INTERNATIONAL

Leonard Cohen, the troubadour for troubled souls, dead

So Long, Leonard:In a recent interview with the New Yorker , Cohen spoke about the prospect of death with calmness and clarity, saying he was ready to die.— File Photo: AFP

So Long, Leonard:In a recent interview with the New Yorker , Cohen spoke about the prospect of death with calmness and clarity, saying he was ready to die.— File Photo: AFP  

Leonard Cohen, the legendary singer-songwriter whose work inspired generations, has died at the age of 82.

A post to his official Facebook page announced the musician’s passing in Los Angeles on Thursday.

“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 post said. “A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.” According to the Leonard Cohen forum , often well informed on the singer, he died on Monday 7 November and has already been buried in a private ceremony in Montreal.

In a recent interview with the New Yorker , Cohen spoke about the prospect of death with calmness and clarity: “I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.” Tributes poured in across social media for the Canadian musician, who had just released his 14th album, You Want It Darker , in October, to great acclaim.

The Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said the “world will miss him” while, actors Rob Lowe and Russell Crowe, musicians Ben Folds, Peter Hook, Slash, Carole King, Lily Allen and Bette Midler all heaped praise on the star.

Cohen, who was born in Montreal, came to prominence in the 1960s as a poet, novelist and singer—songwriter. Originally focusing on literary pursuits, he shifted his attention to music in the late 60s when he moved to New York. His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen , was released in 1967 and became a cult hit. Cohen’s influence on the music industry has been likened to that of his contemporaries Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and is perhaps best known for his song Hallelujah . Only a modest hit on its release in 1984, it found a much wider audience after it was covered by John Cale in 1991 and by Jeff Buckley in 1994.

After the song was taken to No. 1 in the U.K. by X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke in 2008, Cohen said : “I think it’s a good song, but I think too many people sing it.”

Despite his immense popularity, Cohen often appeared to be shy of the stage. Judy Collins, who had success with his song Suzanne , once described how she had to coax him back on stage after he left halfway through a performance. He came out of retirement in his late 70s to embark what would end up being a five—year, worldwide tour, after his former manager, Kelley Lynch, was found guilty of stealing millions of dollars from him.

Letter to a muse

Cohen recently wrote a letter to his longtime muse, Marianne Ihlen, who was the subject of his songs So Long, Marianne , and Bird on the Wire , saying: “You know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

For much of the 1960s, he lived with Ihlen on the Greek island of Hydra, during which time he wrote numerous books of poetry, including his experimental novel Beautiful Losers , and his first album. In the 1970s, after his relationship with Ihlen dissolved, Cohen began a relationship with the artist Suzanne Elrod. The couple had two children, Adam and Lorca. You Want It Darker was co-produced by Adam Cohen. In a recent interview, he talked about working with his father on the album that many believed would be his last. “This old man, who was truly in pain and discomfort, would at some intervals get out of his medical chair and dance in front of his speakers. And sometimes, we would put on a song and listen to it on repeat just like teenagers, with the help of medical marijuana. I think in states of pain and discomfort, what do you seek with more energy and more clarity than joy and jubilance?”

Adam described his father as “the last of his kind.” — Guardian News & Media Ltd., 2016



Recommended for you