Cohen, Leonard Norman
Suzanne.Cohen recorded 13 more studio albums, typical of his painstakingly slow art of song. A dapper and darkly witty troubador, he wrote and sang of love and loss, of war and protest, of the earthy and the spiritual, and, particularly in his last album, You Want It Darker (2016), of mortality. His lyrics are matched by shifting chords and elegantly simple melodies; he often accompanied his gravelly, compelling voice on guitar or keyboard.
Among his most famous songs are
Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye (1967),
So Long Marianne (1967),
Bird on a Wire (1969),
Famous Blue Raincoat (1971),
I'm Your Man (1988), and his best-known work, the anthem
Hallelujah (1984), which mingles the biblical with the sensual. His songs have been covered by many artists from a wide variety of musical genres. Grounded in Judaism but also drawn to Zen Buddhism, he halted his musical career in the 1990s to become a Buddhist monk. He returned to music with the album Ten New Songs in 2001, and late in life his touring career was reinvigorated in part by a need to work again after losing millions to his manager's embezzling. Cohen also published two novels in the 1960s and a collection of drawings and poems, Book of Longing (2006). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010, and was awarded a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 2010.
See J. Burger, ed., Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters (2015); biographies by I. B. Nadel (1996), D. Sheppard (2000), A. Reynolds (2011), S. Simmons (2012), and L. Leibovitz (2015); A. Light, The Holy or the Broken (2012), H. Kubernik, Everybody Knows (2014), and S. Robinson, On Tour with Leonard Cohen (2014); L. Lunson, dir., Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (documentary, 2006).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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