Why We’ll Miss: Leonard Cohen

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This year the default setting of the music industry was mourning, as we witnessed the passing of many great performing artists and songwriters.

Joining Prince, Bowie and Glenn Frey was Leonard Cohen, The Godfather of Gloom, who passed away at 82-years-old. Fans across the world lamented the loss of one of the greatest poets of our time.

Cohen was unmatched in his creativity, insight into the human condition and his crippling candour.

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His haunting voice graced fourteen studio albums and eight live albums along with dozens of singles spanning his fifty year career. Just like Bowie, Leonard Cohen made music until the bitter end and leaves us with his 2016 album You Want It Darker, which captures Cohen perfecting the art of the farewell.

But from hundreds of songs, none touched more people than Hallelujah. Hallelujah has been covered over 200 times, perhaps most famously by John Cale and then Jeff Buckley (and most disappointingly by Alexandra Burke), making it a truly timeless tune with a longevity that has been enjoyed across generations.

Here, Cohen performs the song he wrote and recorded in 1984 at the prestigious Montreal Jazz Festival nearly thirty years after its original release, with Neil Dawson accompanying. The rendition boasts the dulcet, heart-wrenching tones with which Cohen became synonymous throughout his career, spanning half a century.

Cohen was a complex character and a raw perfectionist. In 1972, the Jewish singer-songwriter performed to a crowd in Israel but walked off stage to take LSD when he realised the show was not living up to his high standards. When he heard the audience clamouring for more in Hebrew he returned to finish the show under the influence.

Cohen is widely considered one of the most successful and enigmatic voices of the 60s, perhaps second only to Bob Dylan. Through his music, he was able to tackle the duality of humanity with his words. War, peace, love, hate; these were the puppets Cohen used to construct his poetic tragedies.

When he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was decreed:

For six decades, Leonard Cohen revealed his soul to the world through poetry and song—his deep and timeless humanity touching our very core. Simply brilliant. His music and words will resonate forever.

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Kurt Cobain put in well in Pennyroyal Tea, when he said, ‘Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld, so I can sigh eternally’.

You wanted it darker? The world is undeniably a little bleaker after the loss of Leonard Cohen, but he will be remembered by his fans worldwide, because He’s Our Man.


Francesca Donovan

Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.