I was shocked on Thursday when I heard that Leonard Cohen had died, at 82. Sure, I had read a recent interview where he said “I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.” I knew that he suffered severe back pain and was unable to get around much anymore. However, he just released his newest album, You Want It Darker. So it was hard to believe that this wonderfully talented man was gone.
Wind the clock back to the 70’s. My good friends and I are in high school and then university/college/working. You could have found us babysitting at least one night of the weekend, at one particular home. The parents who employed us were young and cool; they were fine with us having friends visit while we babysat. They had Songs of Leonard Cohen and we played it over and over again. In fact, that’s the only album I remember us playing.
Leonard Cohen’s music has been a constant companion since that introduction, more than 40 years ago. I have other favourite artists – Elton John, Stones, Michael Jackson, Dixie Chicks and Elvis, to mention a few. The difference for me is that I need to be in a certain mood to play their music. I don’t always want rock or twang or oldies. But, I can always listen to Leonard Cohen. Sometimes I focus on the lyrics; other times the music’s just there, in the background. Constant and reliable, soothing.
In concert, Leonard Cohen was funny, humble and tireless. I’ve seen him twice recently and he and his intimate band played over three hours. No flash, no fireworks or fancy clothes, just stories and wonderful music.
It’s sad to think that this era has ended. Thank you Leonard, for the gift of your music. You will be missed.