Friday, November 11, 2016

Leonard Cohen, R.I.P.

I have two friends who saw him perform within the past year. Both said the concerts were amazing. Even at 82, his emotional performances were three hours in length, and left no one unmoved.

I was introduced to his music in 1970, my first year at Ohio U., by a close friend who had been to Woodstock. When we listened to "Avalanche" together I was floored. This was no ordinary songwriter. Like Dylan, even before he'd become "famous" Cohen was massively influential amongst his peers. His transcendent lyrics found expression in others' mouths in ways that Dylan's song flowed through the hallways and corridors of our age even before we knew him. Check in and see how many different versions of his "Hallelujah" have been performed by other artists.  And then, of course, there is "Suzanne."

The old man had style. You could see it in the fierce angle at which he cocked his fedora, the manner in which he wielded his walking stick, the way he wore his face... and the grit in his voice.

Cohen was a Canadian who became part of the New York music scene -- like Neil Young, like the Hawks (who became Dylan's backing band when he went electric), like Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and other familiar names and voices of the era, songwriters all. Must be something in the water, or perhaps the bitter winters.

This obit begins by citing a pair of labels he's been called: "the high priest of pathos" and the "godfather of gloom" today lists no less than 25 links to obituaries and articles by publications and writers offering last respects, acknowledging his influence and significance. Perhaps anticipating his departure this, his latest album release, received a career-honoring overview from The New Yorker: Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker.

This is but a brief acknowledgement that another bird has flown.

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Read the Rolling Stone obituary: Leonard Cohen Deat At 82.

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Photo source: Wikipedia

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