Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

Westmount, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada
Death 7 Nov 2016 (aged 82)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Montreal, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada
Memorial ID 172555591 · View Source
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Rock Musician. He has received international acclaim for writing the song “Hallelujah,” as well as other artistic achievements over a 50-year span. Although released initially in 1984, the song did not become popular until 1994 when sung by Jeff Buckley. Since then, the song has been recorded in several languages, often in A Capella, featured as soundtracks for films and television shows, and through the years, performed or recorded by hundreds of artist. With at least three artists covering the song and reaching above #40 on the charts, Justin Timberlake's version reached #13 on the Hot 100 Songs Billboard in February 2010 . “Hallelujah” was named one of the top ten greatest tracks of all time in a poll of songwriter conducted by a British music magazine, the “Q.” It charted in the United Kingdom in 2008 reaching #36. and “Rolling Stone” magazine ranked it #264 of the top 500 songs of all-time. Cohen was of East European Orthodox Jewish heritage, who could easily speak Hebrew, French, and English. He started to play the guitar as a teenager forming a folk group called the Buckskin Boys. A Spanish guitar instructor coerced him to trade his steel strings for nylon. He also learned to play the keyboard. Being inspired by Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, he began writing poetry. His first book of poems, “Let Us Compare Mythologies” was published in 1956. After graduating from McGill University, he moved to the Greek island of Hydra, getting a house with the trust fund established by his father who had died when he was nine. While in Hydra, he published two novels, “The Favorite Game” in 1963 and “Beautiful Losers” in 1966 in addition to a collection of poetry, “Flowers for Hitler” in 1964. He moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in the mid-1960's and began publishing his poems to music. In 1967 he started to perform in public, including at the New Port Folk Festival in Rhode Island. The same year, singer Judy Collins, recorded two of his songs, “Suzanne” and “Dress Rehearsal Rag.” He began to be the songwriter for Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Charlie Daniels, and other current performers. During the 1970s, he toured frequently while continuing to write songs and performing with his unique baritone voice that has a dry, flat delivery and of course, wearing his iconic hat. He received commercial success with “Leonard Cohen: Live Songs” in 1973 and “New Skin for the Old Ceremony” in 1974. He did have a 1977 disappointment with “Death of Ladies' Man.” By the early 1980's, his style was not as popular but in 1988 he introduced to a new generation his album “I'm Your Man” included the hits “First We Take Manhattan” and “Everybody Knows”. In 1991, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In 1995, he retired from music and entered the Mr. Baldy Zen Center in California, became an ordained Buddhist monk, and took the Dharma name of Jikan, which means “Silence,” yet did not abandon practicing his Jewish faith. Leaving retirement in 1999, he produced two collections,“Ten New Songs” in 2001 and “Dear Heather” in 2004. A testimony of talent was the documentary film of this legendary singer-songwriter, “Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man,” in 2005. It had performances of his songs by many different singers and archived footage of Cohen singing and being interviewed. Financial ruins happened when his business manager embezzled $5 million from his retirement fund in 2005. After taking the manager to court the next year, he was awarded repayment of the money plus interest but did not recover any, thus as a performer of 73 years old, he embarked on a concert tour. His performance, “Live in London” in 2009 was recorded for a double-set of CD's and with successful sales proved he was still a great performer. His 2012 “Old Ideas” was a bluesy collection. In 2016 his masterpiece, according to critics, was released,“You Want it Darker.” Besides writing and music, he was a talented artist. From his early days in Montreal and Hydra, his drawing have been about things, places, and people, especially women, that he captured in his direct, steady hand. His dry humor quotes were often added to his drawings along with a splash of bright watercolors. Producing several drawings of himself, one has his quote, “Just one little guy, with an old tweed cap, against the whole stinking universe.” Later, his drawings found their way onto the front of CD covers. Most recently, his drawings were included in his book of poetry, “Book of Longing,” which sold 1,500 copies online with a hour of it being released. He had a 2015 solo exhibit called “Leonard Cohen: Hey, that's a way to say goodbye” at the Galley Poulsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, which consisted of about 50 different digital prints on three hundred pounds of archival watercolor paper. His death was sudden. After a hard fall earlier in the day, he died peacefully in his sleep during the night. Within weeks after his death, “Hallelujah” had a revival at #59 on the Hot 100 Songs Billboard. Admitting that he was a “coward” and “fearful” of the commitment, he never married but had a son and a daughter. He was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honor. Posthumously he received a Grammy Award for best rock performance, in 2008 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2010 he was award a Grammy for a lifetime achievement. Published in October 2018, his final book was “The Flame.”

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Paxton Stewart
  • Added: 10 Nov 2016
  • Find a Grave Memorial 172555591
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Leonard Cohen (21 Sep 1934–7 Nov 2016), Find a Grave Memorial no. 172555591, citing Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery, Montreal, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada ; Maintained by Find A Grave .