Leonard Cohen R.I.P.

Written by  //  November 12, 2016  //  Absent Friends  //  No comments

Here’s Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ To Listen To 100 Times Today

Andrew Cohen: After a feverish life, it’s closing time and my cousin Leonard is home
Leonard Cohen lived so long and so lyrically that it seemed he would be with us forever. He wore darkness and depression like a well-cut suit. If death ever draped itself on his restless soul, it would come as something between relief and redundancy.
“If it be your will/that I speak no more,” he sang. “who by fire? Who by water?” he asked.
So much to him was broken — broken hearts, broken spirits, broken offerings. Through that anguish, he created a tableau of word and song for the ages. Angst did not still him: it drove him. “You don’t write like this is you’re not in a lot of trouble,” he allowed.
Leonard left Montreal to become who he was. But he always returned to his spare apartment off the Main, and to my father’s embrace. When my father died in 2006, Leonard came every night of Shiva, in a worn cloth cap, intoning the mourning prayers
In his last album, he enlisted the cantor and choir of Shaar Hashomayim, where our family has worshipped for five generations. He has a plot in the synagogue’s cemetery, near my father’s.
After a feverish life, it’s closing time, and Cousin Leonard is home.

Fans hold sing-along vigil for Leonard Cohen outside his Montreal home (with Video)
Condolence book for Leonard Cohen opened at Grande Bibliothèque
(CBC) Hundreds of Leonard Cohen fans held a musical vigil this evening outside the legendary singer-songwriter’s home in Montreal’s Plateau–Mont-Royal borough.
The steps of the three-storey duplex de Vallières Street, which Cohen bought in the 1970s, have been covered with wreaths, candles and messages since news of his death emerged Thursday night.

The crowd stood for hours at Parc du Portugal, across the street from Cohen’s home, and joined in renditions of some of the poet and songwriter’s classics, including Hallelujah. It was an emotional tribute, and many said it was a powerful way of paying their respects.

Josh Freed: In the Plateau, Cohen was just another guy

Leonard Cohen obituary
(The Guardian) Canadian singer, songwriter, novelist and poet revered for works including the song Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen Dead at 82
Hugely influential singer and songwriter’s work spanned nearly 50 years
(Rolling Stone) Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential singer and songwriter whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died Monday at the age of 82. Cohen’s label, Sony Music Canada, confirmed his death on the singer’s Facebook page Thursday evening.
“Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed,” his manager Robert Kory wrote in a statement. “I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand, was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come.”
Cohen was the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties and early Seventies. Only Bob Dylan exerted a more profound influence upon his generation, and perhaps only Paul Simon and fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell equaled him as a song poet.
Cohen’s haunting bass voice, nylon-stringed guitar patterns and Greek-chorus backing vocals shaped evocative songs that dealt with love and hate, sex and spirituality, war and peace, ecstasy and depression. He was also the rare artist of his generation to enjoy artistic success into his Eighties, releasing his final album, You Want It Darker, earlier this year.

Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ pop’s ‘most sacred text,’ almost went unheard by the masses
(WaPost via National Post) he wrote many gorgeous songs, which he sang in his smooth, smoky basso. But, as every obituary written about the man has led with, he attained fame with the song he was attempting to write in that hotel room, the song for which he wrote more than 80 verses before trimming down to five, the song whose third line reads, ironically, “You don’t really care for music, do you?”
The song is “Hallelujah,” which appeared on his 1985 record “Various Positions.”
According to his biography “I’m Your Man,” the song eventually took Cohen five years to write, a fact that embarrassed him so much he later obscured the duration in a conversation with Bob Dylan.
Finally, all that was left to do was decide between two endings. In typical Cohen tradition, one was light, the other bleak.
The light:
“Even though it all went wrong
“I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
“With nothing on my tongue but
“Hallelujah”

The dark:
“Maybe there’s a God above
“But all I’ve ever learned from love
“Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
“And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
“It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
“It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah”

Songs for solace, from Leonard Cohen. Though the bard who died this week was known as the “godfather of gloom,” Georgia Frances King collected a Spotify playlist and lyrics of his most uplifting songs, which seem eerily and soothingly well-suited to the pain and uncertainty of a tumultuous world. And Cassie Werber on the story behind “Anthem,” his song that promises redemption in “the brokenness of things.”

leonard-cohen-new-yorkerDavid Remnick: Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker
At eighty-two, the troubadour has another album coming. Like him, it is obsessed with mortality, God-infused, and funny.
(The New Yorker) When Leonard Cohen was twenty-five, he was living in London, sitting in cold rooms writing sad poems. He got by on a three-thousand-dollar grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. This was 1960, long before he played the festival at the Isle of Wight in front of six hundred thousand people. In those days, he was a Jamesian Jew, the provincial abroad, a refugee from the Montreal literary scene. Cohen, whose family was both prominent and cultivated, had an ironical view of himself. He was a bohemian with a cushion whose first purchases in London were an Olivetti typewriter and a blue raincoat at Burberry. Even before he had much of an audience, he had a distinct idea of the audience he wanted. In a letter to his publisher, he said that he was out to reach “inner-directed adolescents, lovers in all degrees of anguish, disappointed Platonists, pornography-peepers, hair-handed monks and Popists.” – a delightful long profile

Review: Leonard Cohen’s ‘You Want It Darker’ Possibly His Darkest LP Yet
Octogenarian lady’s man seduces the eternal with grim, spiritual beauty
(Rolling Stone) Following a string of records that have each felt like a swan song, You Want It Darker may be Cohen’s most haunting LP. At 82, it might also be his last.
“I’m angry and I’m tired all the time,” he sings on “Treaty,” a stately parlor march to piano and strings that blooms from breakup lament into meditations on the fool’s errand of religion. The Brylcreem-scented slow dance “Leaving the Table” similarly flickers between romantic and spiritual resignation, Bill Bottrell’s electric guitar and steel fills flickering like mirror-ball beams as the famous rake ruefully insists, “I don’t need a lover/The wretched beast is tame” – as sure a sign of the End Times as Arctic melt.
As on Cohen’s 2014 Popular Problems, blues define the vibe. But other colors deepen the narrative. The Congregation Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, who billow across the title track, recall Cohen’s Jewish upbringing in Montreal; “Traveling Light” conjures his halcyon years in Greece in the early Sixties with his late muse Marianne Ihlen, the subject of “So Long, Marianne,” who died in late July. “Goodnight, my fallen star …” Cohen sings in a near-whisper amid bouzouki notes, like a man dancing in an empty taverna after closing time.
Like Bowie’s Blackstar and Dylan’s long goodbye, You Want It Darker is the sound of a master soundtracking his exit, with advice for those left behind. “Steer your way through the ruins of the Altar and the Mall,” he sings near the album’s end, against a gently bouncing bluegrass fiddle, his son Adam’s subtle guitar and Alison Krauss’ angelic backing vocals. It’s what he’s always done, helping the rest of us do the same, as best we can.

21 September 2016
Leonard Cohen’s third act

Leonard Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. Cohen quietly announced to fans a long-anticipated concert tour. The tour, Cohen's first in 15 years, began in May 2008 and encompassed Canada and Europe and included performing at The Big Chill (music festival) and headlined the 2008 Glastonbury Festival on 29 June 2008. (Michael Donald/eyevine/Redux)

Leonard Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. Cohen quietly announced to fans a long-anticipated concert tour. The tour, Cohen’s first in 15 years, began in May 2008 and encompassed Canada and Europe and included performing at The Big Chill (music festival) and headlined the 2008 Glastonbury Festival on 29 June 2008. (Michael Donald/eyevine/Redux)

At 82, Leonard Cohen released a poignant album, ‘You Want It Darker.’ He thought that it could well be his last.
Brian D. Johnson
Update, Nov. 10, 2016: Leonard Cohen has passed away at the age of 82, as his label Sony Music Canada has confirmed. Here is Maclean’s final profile of the Canadian visionary, discussing an album that grappled with his mortality. Share your stories of your life and Leonard Cohen here.
By now Leonard Cohen is such a national treasure that we take him for granted. As if he’s always been with us. In a sense he has. His confidential baritone, which gets immeasurably deeper as the years go by, echoes between the bedroom and the Bible like some pre-Cambrian catacomb of the soul. It’s a voice that sounds older than Canada, older than time—and the voice of an artist who now seems acutely aware that his days are numbered.
On Sept. 21, Leonard Cohen—poet, singer-songwriter, Zen Buddhist monk, rabbinical joker, and ladies’ man emeritus—turned 82. One month later, he will release his 14th studio album, a bone-chilling yet passionate contemplation of mortality called You Want It Darker. It’s a deft title, reminding us that the artist who once dubbed himself “the grocer of despair” has always liked to deflect solemnity with the backhanded wit of a gravedigger trapped in a gold mine.
And what’s especially poignant is that it was produced by the artist’s son, singer-songwriter Adam Cohen, who captures his father’s voice with unprecedented intimacy. …
“There were fits of laughter woven throughout what was a very serious endeavour. There were episodes where I saw an incapacitated old man stand up and dance in front of the speakers. There were hilarious, esoteric arguments fuelled by medical marijuana. There were episodes of blissful joy that sometimes lasted hours, where we’d listen to one song on repeat like teenagers. There were smiles and an inner glow that I can actually hear on the record.”

 

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