The lead single from Popular Problems finds Cohen reacting to political disasters, death, destruction and bad reviews by noting that they are "almost like the blues."
Popular Problems was produced by and co-written with Patrick Leonard, who is best known for his work with Madonna from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. "It was a very agreeable collaboration because of an absence of ego and an abundance of musical ideas on Patrick's part," Cohen explained during an interview with Bob Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum, after an album playback.
"I would have a rhythm in mind and a position" on tempo and accompaniment," Cohen added. "I had the function of the veto. Most of the musical ideas were Patrick's, with a bit of modifications. Whether there were horns or violin, all of those things were decided mutually."
"St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" was not written for the movie, but for Rick Hanson, a wheelchair athlete whose 1985 "Man In Motion" tour logged 24,856 miles on his wheelchair in 34 countries while raising $26 million for spinal cord research.