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Leonard Cohen



Leonard Cohen (Westmount, Montreal, September 21, 1934 - Los Angeles, California, November 7, 2016) was a Canadian folk singer-songwriter, poet and writer. He had hits with Suzanne, Hallelujah and So Long, Marianne, among others.


Cohen was born to a middle-class Jewish family in an English-speaking part of Montreal. As a teenager, he learned to play guitar and formed a country / folk group called The Buckskin Boys. He studied arts at McGill University with the aim of becoming a poet and made his debut in 1956 with Let Us Compare Mythologies. As early as 1961 he was a well-known name in Canadian poetry circles. He received a scholarship that enabled him to retire to the Greek island of Hydra, where he also met Marianne Ihlen (for whom So Long, Marianne and many other of his songs were written). Then came the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964), his only two novels The Favorite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966) that received mixed reviews and few readers, and another collection of poems Parasites of Heaven (1966). His most recent collection of poetry Book of Longing was published in 2006.

Love for folk music led him to take up the guitar himself. After 1966 he concentrated mainly on writing pop songs. Judy Collins recorded one of his songs and it became an instant hit: Suzanne. In 1967 Cohen moved to the United States. In the same year his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, was released. He established a reputation as a singer-songwriter with songs such as Suzanne, Everybody Knows, The Tower of Song, Famous Blue Raincoat and First We Take Manhattan. He incorporated spirituality and sexuality into his songs. His songs are characterized by his monotonous, melancholic voice.



Cohen studied different religions. His grandfather was a rabbi and he knew the Jewish scriptures. In the 1960s he became a member of the Church of Scientology. He later converted to Buddhism and spent some time as a monk in a Zen monastery in the mountains north of Los Angeles. This helped him with his depression and tendency to "endless self-analysis". But he was also sensitive to worldly temptations, such as women, drugs and alcohol.

For example, the song Chelsea Hotel # 2 was written after a short affair with Janis Joplin .


Cohen had a son and a daughter with his ex-partner Suzanne Elrod. He never married. His daughter Lorca is the biological mother of Rufus Wainwright's daughter.

His son Adam Cohen followed in his footsteps and also became a singer-songwriter.

Leonard Cohen died in 2016 at the age of 82 from a fall in his sleep.



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