In releasing his latest record, `You Want It Darker’, which dropped October 21st, The “godfather of gloom”, Leonard Cohen revealed to New Yorker magazine that he was preparing for the end of his life – “I am ready to die, I hope it’s not too uncomfortable.”
How prophetic that statement proved to be as on Monday November 7th, as 82-year old Leonard Cohen did indeed pass away in Los Angeles after a lengthy battle with leukemia.
Cohen later made a u-turn on that statement claiming he was exaggerating. “One is given to self-dramatisation from time to time. I intend to live for ever.” But even the title of his new release, co-produced with Madonna producer Patrick Leonard has a sense of foreboding and he said in the same New Yorker interview that he had a body of unfinished poems and songs that he didn’t think he would have time to finish in the coming years.
In announcing his death, which was delayed until Thursday November 11th, Cohen’s son Adam stated “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records (`You Want It Darker’). He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humour.”
Born in Montreal September 21st 1934, Cohen was a singer-songwriter-author-poet laureate who’s best material was covered by other artists. “Suzanne” and “Bird On The Wire” were successfully covered by Judy Collins while his “Hallelujah” song, featured on his 1984 studio album, `Various Positions’ became a big hit for Jeff Buckley.
Even though his distinctive spoken-style vocals were not exactly mainstream chart fodder, Cohen did record 14 studio albums from his 1967 debut `Songs of Leonard Cohen’ to his `You Want It Darker’ finale, and despite being in failing health, continued to tour through 2012-2013 with a full slate of dates in North America and Europe finishing with what proved to be Cohen’s final concert performance at the Vector Arena in Auckland New Zealand in December 2013.
Cohen is a winner of numerous awards including five Juno Awards (three in 2013 alone!), induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1991), Officer of the Order of Canada (1991) and a Companion of the Order of Canada (2003), Induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (2008) and a Grammy as a featured artist on Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters release in (2007) plus a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
Sadly, Leonard Cohen joins a litany of star musical performers who have passed away in 2016 including David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey and Keith Emerson.