Leonard Cohen: Some of his greatest songs

By Jo Phillips

Yesterday, Canada’s cultural icon Leonard Cohen died at the age of 82. He was a singer, poet and novelist and his works explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and relationships. He blended folk music with a darker, sexual edge and he had fans all around the world, including musicians such as Bob Dylan and R.E.M.. His hugely influential work spanned nearly 50 years and he is included in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Furthermore, he was a Companion of the Order of Canada, which is the nation’s highest civilian honour. He released 14 albums in total and just last month, he released a new album called “You Want it Darker” and he also toured earlier this year. The record label Sony posted a statement on Facebook saying that the world has lost “one of music’s most revered on prolific visionaries”.

In honour of Leonard Cohen, here are some of his greatest songs:

  •  Hallelujah: This song is originally released on his album “Various Positions” (1984) and achieved little initial success. It became more popular when John Cale covered the song and inspired a recording by Jeff Buckley, which is now the most popular version of the song. Hallelujah is one of the most-covered songs in history with more than 300 artists
    recording their own version and it is without a doubt, his most beloved song of all time.

  • Suzanne: This song was written in the 1960s and was first published as a poem in 1966. Cohen performed it as his debut single from his album “Songs of Leonard Cohen”.

  • So Long Marianne: This song was also featured on his debut album “Song of Leonard Cohen” and it was inspired by Marianna Ihlen, which he said was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. Marianne died this year at the age of 81 and after her death, Cohen wrote a letter saying  “Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine”. 

  • Dance Me To The End of Love: This is a 1984 song and was first performed on his album “Various Positions”. It is structured as a love song, but is actually inspired by the Holocaust.

  • Everybody Knows: It was first released on Cohen’s album “I’m Your Man” in 1988 and is known for it sober tone and the repetition of the title at the beginning of most verses. The song features references to AIDS, social problems, and relationship  and religion issues.

His son Adam, who is also featured in one of our previous articles, told the Rolling Stone magazine “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 “.

This year is called a disaster by a lot of music fans, as three of the greatest musicians of all time passed away, including David Bowie, Prince, and now Leonard Cohen. If you are interested in reading more about Bowie or Prince check out our articles on them.

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