Songwriter, performer and poet Leonard Cohen has passed away at the age of 82.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of the legendary Leonard Cohen. He will be fondly remembered for his gruff vocals, his self-deprecating humour and the haunting lyrics that made his songs the perennial favourite of so many generations.”
Born in 1934 in Westmount, Quebec into a middle-class Jewish family, Cohen soon developed an admiration for the poetry of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca and a fondness for American country music.
He moved to New York in 1966 at the age of 31 to break into the music business. His first album ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen’ was released in 1967.
Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
In 2007 American composer Philip Glass put Cohen’s collection of poems ‘Book of Longing’ to music.
Glass spoke of the ease with which Cohen’s words can be put to music: “He is both a songwriter and a poet so he brings a special combination and it makes his works very comfortable to set to music.”
Many were distracted by Cohen’s nasal voice and deep-bass, conversational vocals, but his admirers saw his work as suffused with irony and self-deprecating humour, often touching on his relationship with fame and his reputation as a womaniser.
That was something Cohen mocked, saying: “My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke that caused me to laugh bitterly through the 10,000 nights I spent alone.’‘