–by Quincy Tejani, Music Connoisseur–
There is no doubt, 2016 will go down as one of the saddest years in music history. Yesterday Leonard Cohen passed away at 82, leaving a back catalogue of work that 100 artists combined couldn’t have dreamed of writing. His death marks the loss of one of the greatest poets and most successful musicians Canada has ever offered the world. Beginning in 1967 with his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen and continuing until his last release You Want It Darker, Cohen has always been a master at bleeding emotion into his songs. Today, I want to pay tribute to Cohen by listing a few of his many incredible tracks.
10. You Want It Darker
The title track of his latest album and his final masterpiece, “You Want It Darker” embodies the soul and emotion that made Cohen so brilliant for so many years. And damn it if that bass line isn’t one of the funkiest I’ve heard.
9. Bird On the Wire
Legend has it that Cohen wrote this song after his then-girlfriend Marianne handed him his guitar to help relieve his depression. Included on his oft’ overlooked Lp Song From a Room, this is one of Cohen’s signature songs. See him perform it live here:
8. Dance Me to the End Of Love
Inspired by the Holocaust, Cohen said about the song, “‘Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin,’ meant the beauty of being the consummation of life, the end of this existence and of the passionate element in that consummation.”
7. So Long, Marianne
The first track included from Cohen’s masterful debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen “So Long, Marianne” was written for Cohen’s girlfriend back in the 1960’s. Marianne died this past July and in a letter Cohen wrote to her, “Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine… Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”
6. Ain’t No Cure For Love
Cohen’s 1988 release I’m Your Man shows Cohen trying his hand at electro-pop. Incredibly, the folk artist was able to master the heavy snares and synths of the 80s, unlike so many of his contemporaries. For me, this proves Cohen’s ability to produce fantastic work regardless of the era.
Usually cited as Cohen’s second best Lp, Songs of Love and Hate opens with this track which puts on display Cohen’s unmatched poetry but also his ability to freakin’ shred a guitar. Love it.
4. Famous Blue Raincoat
Ron Cornelius, bandleader during Leonard Cohen’s live performances has called this his favorite Cohen penned song. It is not difficult to see why. It is definitely one of the man’s most hauntingly beautiful compositions.
3. Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye
The beauty of this song coupled with the news of Cohen’s passing nearly brought me to tears. This song will always strike a chord with me.
As with many, this track was my introduction to the singer/songwriter. I remember lying on my bed in my university dorm room with this song on repeat, marveling at Cohen’s storytelling ability and the feelings he evoked within me, proving his incredible poetic gift.
If somebody asked me what the greatest song ever written was, I would most likely reply “‘Hallelujah,’ by Leonard Cohen” (and my mom agrees). I’ll post a couple of covers below as well, because the versions by KD Lang and Jeff Buckley are freaking incredible too.
Rest in peace Leonard. And thank you for the wonderful music.
K.D Lang was born to sing this song.
Quincy Tejani is the co-founder of The Violet Wave and is also editor of music. When he’s not listening to or writing about music you can probably find him walking through the forests of Ontario or questioning the inner workings of the universe. He also never turns down a cold Pabst… never.
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