Leonard Cohen (1934-2016): Godfather of gloom

Updated: Nov 15, 2016, 10:21 IST | The Hitlist Team

Leonard Cohen, the influential singer-songwriter whose work spanned five decades, passed away at the age of 82

Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, the influential singer-songwriter whose work spanned five decades, passed away at the age of 82. His label confirmed his death on his Facebook page. “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries,” the statement read.

Cohen’s son, Adam said in a statement, “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the
knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humour.”

Cohen’s haunting bass voice, nylon-stringed guitar patterns and Greek-chorus backing vocals shaped evocative songs. He is best known for tracks like Suzanne, Hallelujah and Bird On The Wire. He was also the rare artiste of his generation to enjoy artistic success into his Eighties, releasing his final album, You Want It Darker, last month. “I don’t think I’ll be able to finish those songs. Maybe, who knows? And maybe I’ll get a second wind. I’ve got some work to do. Take care of business. I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable,” he had said.

He’s the man

Born on September 21, 1934, in Quebec, Cohen learned the guitar as a teen and formed a folk group called the Buckskin Boys. Exposure to Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca turned him toward poetry. After graduating from McGill University, Cohen moved to the Greek island of Hydra where he published the poetry collection — Flowers For Hitler (1964) and novels, The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966).

Frustrated by poor book sales, and tired of working in Montreal’s garment industry, he visited New York in 1966 to explore the city’s folk-rock scene. He met folk singer Judy Collins, who later that year included two of his songs. Cohen became the songwriter of choice for artistes like Collins, James Taylor and Willie Nelson. His next two albums, Songs From A Room and Songs Of Love And Hate, were huge hits.

Cohen’s top 20
Suzanne, Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye, Master Song, Sisters Of Mercy, So Long, Marianne, Bird On The Wire, Joan Of Arc, Avalanche, Famous Blue Raincoat, Chelsea Hotel #2, Came So Far For Beauty, Hallelujah, First We Take Manhattan, Tower Of Song, A Thousand Kisses, Everybody Knows, Democracy, Going Home, Slow, You Want It Darker

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