11-11-2016 08:25 AM
My introduction to the music of Leonard Cohen was via my car radio in 1992. I had just pulled up outside my home and a song came on the radio that pinned me to my seat for six more minutes. It was melodically beautiful, lyrically hilarious, and utterly captivating. I soon after discovered the song was called "Closing Time," but it was not Chris Rea as I had thought. Rather, it was someone I'd never heard of called Leonard Cohen. His album, from which "Closing Time" was taken, The Future, was brilliant in every way, one of the finest records I'd ever heard. And then I discovered that I was joining his career already in progress for 25 years.
Since then my ears have been delighted by dozens of songs on many different topics: love unrequited, love celebrated, aging, the mysteries of living, and late night philosophizing at the end of a long night of drinking. His lyrics are literature, his melodies catchy, his voice a profoundly growly, world-weary bass. His singing is treacle for the ears, almost sickeningly sweet, but delicious in every way.
His final studio album, You Want It Darker, was released on October 21 and is yet another spectacular collection of songs ruminating on love, loss, and life in all of its wild twists and turns. It is as good a listen as anything to come along since his first collection of songs in in 1967 when he was already an almost ancient 33 years old. Seventeen years later he would release arguably his most famous song, "Hallelujah." You've heard it, undoubtedly, but if you don't think you have, you can find it by almost any popular artist since it was released. It's one of the most covered songs in popular music.
Mr. Leonard Cohen, a companion of mine for the last 24 years, passed away at the age of 82. Like those other mighty luminaries gone before him this year, he leaves an unfillable vacuum in the universe of popular music. It was my joy to be cast adrift in his songs, and now my sorrow to go on in a world without more.
I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
~Leonard Cohen, "Hallelujah"