Thursday, June 17, 2010


Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen turned to songwriting after establishing himself as an acclaimed novelist and poet. His resultant songs have earned him an adoring following of music fans and fellow artists, including Judy Collins, who expanded his audience in 1966 when she recorded his song "Suzanne" (actor/singer Noel Harrison also had a hit with it) and Jennifer Warnes, who had been a backup singer for Leonard Cohen before releasing her own acclaimed album of his material, "Famous Blue Raincoat," in 1987. His uniquely intelligent output was celebrated in 2006 with the documentary "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man." Key songs in the Leonard Cohen catalog include "Bird on the Wire," "Hallelujah," "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye," "So Long, Marianne" and "Suzanne."

Born in 1934, Leonard Cohen was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist, and his work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Leonard Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1991) and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2006) as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2008) for his outstanding work.

Leonard Cohen always had an interest in music, but it wasn't until 1966 that his focus turned to songwriting after gaining international recognition for his poetry. Before he released a single song, Leonard Cohen sold the highly successful "Suzanne" to Judy Collins, which later was included on his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967 along with "Sisters Of Mercy," and "So Long, Marianne." His next two albums, Songs from a Room (1969) and Songs of Love and Hate (1971) solidified Leonard Cohen's iconic status with the often recorded "Bird on the Wire" and "Famous Blue Raincoat."

His 1977 record Death of a Ladies’ Man was co-written and produced by 1997 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee Phil Spector, which was a move away from Leonard Cohen’s previous minimalist sound. In 1979 Leonard 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 Leonard Cohen’s studio album Various Positions in 1984. I’m Your Man in 1988 marked Leonard Cohen’s turn to synthesized productions and remains his most popular album.

In 1992 Leonard Cohen released its follow-up, The Future, which had dark lyrics and references to political and social unrest. Leonard Cohen returned to music in 2001 with the release of Ten New Songs, which was a major hit in Canada and Europe. In 2006 Leonard Cohen produced and co-wrote Blue Alert, a collaboration with jazz chanteuse Anjani Thomas.

Leonard Cohen's multidimensional lyrics have captured fans spanning generations and nationalities for decades. Leonard Cohen received the Grammy 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of his legendary career of artistic accomplishments in songwriting and performing. Over 2,000 covers of Leonard Cohen's songs have been recorded by artists such as R.E.M., Bob Dylan, Elton John, Judy Collins, Willie Nelson and most recently, Justin Timberlake.

Leonard Cohen's world tour, which inaugurated in May 2008, played to sold-out crowds. After the success of his 2008–2013 world tours, Leonard Cohen released the highest charting album in his entire career, Old Ideas, to positive reviews. On September 22, 2014, one day after his 80th birthday, Leonard Cohen released his 13th studio album, Popular Problems, again to positive reviews. Leonard Cohen’s fourteenth and final album, You Want It Darker, was released on October 21, 2016, a few weeks before he died.