Well-known as a singer-songwriter from the late 60’s, Leonard Cohen was born in on September 21st, 1934 in Westmount, Canada. From that time until his death this November, Leonard had reached thousands of people through his music. His most popular songs such as ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Suzanna’, and ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’, all relay the same passion and love Leonard approached his work with. Primarily a Rock/Folk artist, Leonard was not afraid to explore topics of politics, religion, sexuality, and even personal relationships. Perhaps most recognized for his way with words, Leonard once brilliantly said, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
After gaining popularity from his musical and lyrical abilities, Cohen got to know photographer Suzanne Elrod and fell in love. Their relationship lasted through the 70’s and eventually produced two children, Adam and Lorca. Leonard’s children fortunately caught his artistic gene, with Adam forming a pop-rock band “Low Millions” and Lorca becoming a well-known photographer and videographer. In fact, Lorca shot the music video for her father’s song “Because Of”, and was the photographer for one of his last world tours starting in 2010.
Although Leonard was extremely passionate about his music, he had other well-established interests as well. For one, Leonard enjoyed writing both novels and poetry, which explain the brilliant lyrics scattered throughout his music. In fact, Leonard was first an established author and poet before becoming well-known for his music. It wasn’t until he became frustrated with his lack of financial success as a writer did he move from Canada to the United States to pursue a career in music. Some of Leonard’s most well-known pieces of literature include, “Flowers for Hitler”, “The Favourite Game”, and “Beautiful Losers”.
Amongst other interests, Leonard became in-tune with his spiritual self in 90’s during the time he went to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center, a Buddhist retreat in California. During his time at the retreat center, Leonard produced many new songs and poems, inspired by the spiritual awakening within himself. After re-emerging in 1999 as a Buddhist monk, Leonard returned to his musical stage, releasing an album simply titled, Ten New Songs.
Although Leonard Cohen grew older as he reached the 2000s, he continued producing music his fans loved. This is proven by his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and his Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2012, at almost 80 years old, Leonard released yet another album, Old Ideas, which reached the #3 spot in the U.S. and #1 spot in Canada on the album-charts. Just three weeks before his death earlier this month, Leonard released one last album, You Want It Darker, produced with the help of his son Adam.
Just three days after his death, the following message was posted on Leonard Cohen’s website:
“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.”
As seen by his various interests and resulting accomplishments, students of NJIT should know that it is not necessary to stick to one specific interest or field of knowledge. Explore different facets of life and learn about things unknown. Cohen’s passion for songwriting and his additional love for producing poetry both prove that it is passion, at the end of the day, which keeps us going.
Rest in Peace, Leonard Cohen: 1934-2016