R.I.P. Leonard Cohen – Another day in 2016 and another Legend leaves us

An Editorial by: Slim Jim Keller

I was introduced to Leonard Cohen in a round about way in 1990 when the Christian Slater movie Pump Up The Volume was released. Throughout the movie Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows would be played when he’d take the airwaves via his pirate radio station. And the ending credits had the Concrete Blonde cover playing which was recorded and added to the soundtrack instead of Leonard’s version. But I tracked down Cohen’s version and was introduced to the I’m Your Man album. With such recognizable songs as the title track, First We Take Manhattan, and Everybody Knows, it was probably his biggest album and most popular.

As I did with all artists I would find speaking to me a on deeper level than just a good tune coming out of my stereo I went backwards and began to explore his back catalog and found so much more about him. A poet first, and songwriter second, Leonard Cohen’s body of work was impressive and influential to so many artists and fans alike.

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It was the previous album, Various Positions, that held the song that would end up being covered and recorded over 300 times… Hallelujah. A beautiful song full of melancholy, longing and betrayal. Arguably the most popular version of the song may be performed by Jeff Buckley who turned it into more of a love song or a hallelujah of the orgasm as he explained.

Whenever I was feeling melancholy, or needed reassurance that there was more pain and loss than I had been feeling, it was Cohen’s voice I would seek out and wrap myself in like a favorite blanket. Where I would find myself safe, warm, and with no doubts any longer.

Like David Bowie earlier this year, Leonard Cohen must have known time was short as he wrote, recorded, and released his last and final album, You Want It Darker just three short weeks before he passed away today.

His songwriting would wander between a kind of synth-pop and folk music. But it was always Leonard’s lyrics and vocals that anchored the music. Songs about politics, social unrest, and love and lust lost. Leonard’s deep resonant voice always lays somewhere between a smoky dark back room in adive bar singer to a Tibetan Monk chanting. His voice was something that would draw you in, wrap around you while it whispered the secrets of the world or the curves and valleys of the fine female body laying before him. But you always trusted what he said and sang because his voice commanded you too with its smoother than a fine scotch tones.

The year 2016 has been tough on our musical legends. And November has been no different. The loss of Leonard Cohen is a tough one to swallow. We are left with multiple albums and books of poetry, but the voice… we’ll never have another voice like the cantor of synth-pop again.