So Long, Leonard Cohen. Rest in Peace.
Multitalented poet, singer, songwriter and novelist, Leonard Cohen, has passed away at the age of 82. A statement on his official Facebook page and official website made this announcement: “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.”
Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 in Montreal, Quebec to a well-to-do clothier and a rabbi’s daughter. As a teenager he developed interests in music and poetry. After earning a B.A. in English at McGill University in 1955, he began post-graduate studies at McGill’s law school and Columbia U. in New York, but left the country and, by 1960, settled on the Greek isle of Hydra. There he wrote several volumes of poetry and two novels, “The Favorite Game” (1963) and “Beautiful Losers” (1966). He fell in love with Marianne Ihlen (then Jensen). He wrote the song “So Long, Marianne” for her.
Cohen moved to New York where his song “Suzanne” came to the attention of folk singer, Judy Collins. Through her help, he soon was signed to Columbia Records. Some of his songs, like “Suzanne,” “Bird on the Wire” and “Tower of Song” have been covered many times. “Hallelujah” is without a doubt his most well-known tune. It has been recorded over 200 times.
Upon learning of the imminent death of Marianne Ihlen last July, Cohen wrote her a most touching letter that said in part “Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.” In October, he released his final album, “You Want It Darker,” with a focus on mortality. These actions led his fans to believe that he thought his own death was at hand. He did attempt to dispel the notion by saying he would “live forever.” No one really does physically, but certainly, he will live forever through his songs.
Read more details about Montreal’s most celebrated son on the Montreal Gazette.