Leonard Cohen Dies
Cohen maintained a high level of excellence throughout his influential five-decade long recording career, which began with 1967’s Songs of Leonard Cohen and ended on an incredibly hot streak. In the past decade alone, Cohen released three acclaimed albums, most recently 2016’s You Want It Darker.
Leonard Cohen was born in 1934 the Montreal suburb of Westmount, where he began writing poetry and playing folk guitar. After graduating college, he moved to Greece and published poems and novels. However, they didn’t sell well and he moved to New York, where he was a part of both the folk scene and Andy Warhol’s Factory.
He quickly established a reputation in the former, with Judy Collins recording “Suzanne” in 1966, which led to a contract with Columbia Records. Despite his reputation as a “songwriter’s songwriter” on the same level as Bob Dylan, his records never sold in the same quantities, possibly because of his deep voice. But his songs were frequently covered throughout the decades. In addition to numerous interpretations of “Suzanne,” another of his songs, “Hallelujah,” was given high-profile recordings by John Cale, Rufus Wainwright and, perhaps most famously, Jeff Buckley, who made it the centerpiece of his lone album, Grace.
He continued to record throughout 1992, but shortly thereafter retreated from public life, living for the second half of the decade in a Zen monastery near Los Angeles and being ordained as a Buddhist monk. He returned in 2001 with Ten New Songs and, in 2008, after it was discovered that his manager had stolen more than $5 million of his money, embarked on a series of lengthy tours over the next five years.
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