Top Ten Reasons We Love Leonard Cohen (9-21-34 to -11-7-16)
The written words of Leonard Cohen came from the pen of a man who considered himself a poet and novelist. His writings began in the 1950’s and kept Leonard behind a typewriter until Folk music became the vehicle for his art. Leonard Cohen moved to NYC to work as a musician, playing live at the urging of Judy Collins, who had a hit with “Suzanne” from his first recording, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967). The words of Leonard Cohen chipped away at religion, politics, and relationships on both sides of love. His early Folk work began to take a backseat with Phil Spector sat in the producer’s chair for Death of a Ladies Man (1977). Leonard Cohen mixed Folk with his affinity for Jazz, blending in world beats and sounds for Recent Songs (1979). His album Various Positions (1984) debuted his much recorded tune, “Hallelujah”, and as the 1980’s progressed his music took on darker textures as the music found itself falling heavier into studio sounds. As Leonard Cohen dug deeper into the human psyche with his musical observations his own quest for spirit took him into a five-year seclusion in 1994 at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center. His return to music came in 2001 and Leonard Cohen once again began the album and touring cycle for his music. His last non-themed studio album Popular Problems (2014), followed by songs that focused on his own mortality and imminent death, You Want It Darker (2016).
01 Suzanne (from the album Songs of Leonard Cohen)
Leonard Cohen released “Suzanne” as a poem in 1966. Just Collins turned the words into song as did Leonard on his debut album, Songs from Leonard Cohen. The Folk tune was a staple for the early FM radio format that started taking over radio waves in the late 1960’s.
02 Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye (from the album Songs of Leonard Cohen)
The lovelight of Leonard Cohen never died with the ending of relationships. He tenderly sings as heart separate and love exits the building. He keeps the memories alive in the song as the two lovers go in different directions his words remind them they can always come back to special moments in time.
03 Ain’t No Cure for Love (from the album I’m Your Man)
Matters of the heart spent a lot of time in the words of Leonard Cohen. I’m Your Man became his most important album release, taking him from Folk days and steering Leonard in the right direction after a few years of missteps into Pop and Rock.
04 Everybody Knows (from the album I’m Your Man)
The lesson of “Everybody Knows” is repeated frequently in a tune that found its way to a new audience through its success in the film, Pump Up the Volume. Vocally, Leonard Cohen tongue wags like a finger-pointing its judgments.
05 First We Take Manhattan (from the album I’m Your Man)
Leonard Cohen steps on a dance groove that spins dark disco on a black mirrored ball that reflects his views of terrorism. The violent acts associated with terrorists do now receive attention in the tune as Leonard’s pen scribes the effects of Psychic Terrorism.
06 Waiting for the Miracle (from the album The Future)
Dark rolling clouds of rhythm cascade underneath the somber delivery of Leonard Cohen as he sits alone patiently looking for some light to come down the track in “Waiting for the Miracle”. His characters file by outside his window as Leonard sits sentinel.
07 Hallelujah (from the album Various Positions)
Probably his most covered song, “Hallelujah” trudges and drags its feet as his chorus of angels sing praise. The subject of the song is elusive though the words seem to come from a savior who has fallen out of favor and speaks from a lonely throne.
08 Joan of Arc – Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen (from the album Famous Blue Raincoat, the Songs of Leonard Cohen)
The version of “Joan of Arc” from a tribute album by Jennifer Warnes puts the duet between Jan and the fire that takes her life. The two become lovers with Jennifer as the Joan and Leonard as the smoke and flames.
09 Closing Time (from the album The Future)
Rubbery rhythms follow the wayward footsteps of late night carousers as they drink a toast to another night with “Closing Time”. As the wee hours approach the crown gets crazier as the attempt to plug twice as much into half the time.
10 Almost Like the Blues (from the album Popular Problems)
Pattering percussion backs a late-in-life release from Leonard Cohen. His observations mirror today’s headlines as his character turns away from a world that is suffering. A gravelly whisper shakes paper-thin with the understanding that life becomes “Almost Like the Blues”.