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325px-leonard_cohen_1988_01LUMPENPROLETARIATI’m your man…  [1]

Messina

Pennyroyal Tea” (1994) by Nirvana

“Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld/So, I can sigh eternally…”

Words fail to describe that mysterious sense of loss, driving home from work to hear someone say on KPFA that Leonard Cohen “passed away earlier this evening”.  The world has lost a voice of tender humanity and brutal honesty.  Leonard Cohen, the poet and singer-songwriter, leaves us prophetic and profound music, writing, and artwork. For the ’90s generation, it was Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, who also painted, who introduced most of us to Leonard Cohen by citing him in Nirvana‘s ultimate album, In Utero (1993).  Then, Trent Reznor included Leonard Cohen in his curated soundtrack for Oliver Stone‘s Natural Born Killers (1994).  After hearing “The Future” and “Waiting For The Miracle“, invoking Kurt’s lyrics about sighing eternally, we wanted to hear more from Leonard Cohen.  New generations would discover, experience, enjoy, and learn from Leonard Cohen’s impressive treasure trove of artistic, musical, and literary work.  Indeed, Leonard Cohen’s influence continues to be felt today, as many people continue to sing his songs.

Waiting For the Miracle” (1992) by Leonard Cohen

Like David Bowie with his final album, Blackstar (2016), Leonard Cohen fully confronted his mortality in his final album, You Want It Darker (2016).  Hineni, hineni.  I am ready my lord.

You Want It Darker” (2016) by Leonard Cohen

The Future” (1992) by Leonard Cohen

Hallelujah” interpreted (in 1994) by Jeff Buckley [3]

Hallelujah” (1984) by Leonard Cohen

Hallelujah” (performed live) by Leonard Cohen

Hallelujah” interpreted (c. 2004) by K.D. Lang

Hallelujah” interpreted (c. 2008) by Alexandra Burke

Hallelujah” interpreted (in 2010) by Susan Boyle

I’m Your Man” (1988) by Leonard Cohen

Everybody Knows” (1988) by Leonard Cohen

Democracy” (1992) by Leonard Cohen

First We Take Manhattan” (1987) by Leonard Cohen

Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” (January 1976) by Judy Collins & Leonard Cohen [3]

***

[1]  Leonard Norman Cohen, CC GOQ (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, and painter.  His work mostly explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships.[2] Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor.  In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.

Cohen pursued a career as a poet and novelist during the 1950s and early 1960s, and did not launch a music career until 1967, at the age of 33.  His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), was followed by three more albums of folk music: Songs from a Room (1969), Songs of Love and Hate (1971) and New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974).  His 1977 record Death of a Ladies’ Man was co-written and produced by Phil Spector, which was a move away from Cohen’s previous minimalist sound.  In 1979, Cohen returned with the more traditional Recent Songs, which blended his acoustic style with jazz and Oriental and Mediterranean influences.  “Hallelujah” was first released on Cohen’s studio album Various Positions in 1984.  I’m Your Man in 1988 marked Cohen’s turn to synthesized productions and remains his most popular album. In 1992, Cohen released its follow-up, The Future, which had dark lyrics and references to political and social unrest.

Cohen returned to music in 2001 with the release of Ten New Songs, which was a major hit in Canada and Europe. His eleventh album, Dear Heather, followed in 2004.  After a successful string of tours between 2008 and 2010, Cohen released three albums in the final four years of his life: Old Ideas (2012), Popular Problems (2014) and You Want It Darker (2016), the last of which was released three weeks before his death.

[2]

[3]  Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen were videotaped (to Beta-HiFi) performing the folk song “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodby” in Chicago, January 1976, for the PBS TV programme Soundstage.

***

[Image entitled “The singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in Venice” by Gorupdebesanez – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

[29 NOV 2016]

[Last modified at 14:48 PST on 30 NOV 2016]

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