Leonard Cohen 's legacy goes beyond the numerous covers of his songs, and the seemingly endless soundtrack appearances. Those things helped afford him some small measure of fame, but they never gave a full accounting of his genius. For that, as this list of Top 10 Leonard Cohen Songs shows, you've got to dig into the albums — places where the singer-songwriter challenged himself as much as he ever challenged the listener. Singing with a foundation-rattling voice that could be remarkably pitiless, winkingly acerbic and unfathomably sad, Cohen continued pushing toward the far creative horizon over 14 studio albums before his death — bringing in elements of jazz, gospel, cabaret and pop to augment his foundational sound as a folk-poet. Often, Cohen discussed things that others couldn't or at the very least wouldn't like politics, sexuality and religion. But he never pulled a punch when it came to his own frailties and, as you'll see in this list of the Top 10 Leonard Cohen songs, he always approached things with a sharp, writerly eye. Even non-fans might remember Leonard Cohen reading the lyrics from this witheringly self-aware, yet somehow delightfully funny song upon his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"Tower of Song"
Leonard Cohen, pictured in , passed away at the age of Poetry, fiction and songwriting were more or less equal forms of expression to Leonard Cohen — although one paid a hell of a lot better than the others. After mastering the mystical power of melody, Cohen went on to enjoy a long, fruitful career marked by spiritual hiatuses, reinvention and a surprising late-career second act unprecedented in American entertainment. Cohen was the sexy, late-blooming gloom-monger among a small, elite coterie of singer-songwriters who came to define the Sixties and early Seventies. His rumbling voice, Spanish-y guitar lines and deeply poetic lyrics transubstantiated the sacred into the profane and vice versa. While early songs like "Suzanne," "Sisters of Mercy" and "Bird on a Wire" made him a college-dorm fixture, later masterpieces like "Everybody Knows," "I'm Your Man" and "The Future" introduced him to a new generation of post-punks and fellow travelers. And then, in his 70s, he had to do it all over again, thanks to a larcenous manager. But touring rejuvenated our hero, not to mention his reputation. Cohen's songs, both old and new, sounded deeper, richer, and more important than ever, as this sampling demonstrates.
EW celebrates the incredible life and work of one of the finest songwriters of all time. Cohen wrote his first single, featured on his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen , as a tribute to a friend and muse named Suzanne Verdal, with whom Cohen struck up a relationship in Montreal in No song ever accepted — or, perhaps, initiated? Cohen reportedly wrote this song in a single sitting — one of the few times he completed a tune so quickly. The story goes that he had invited two stranded female hitchhikers to stay in a hotel room with him; as the two slept, he penned this delicate ode to how inspiration can strike with the most random encounters.
His work explored religion, politics, isolation, depression, sexuality, loss, death and romantic relationships. He was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada , the nation's highest civilian honour. Cohen pursued a career as a poet and novelist during the s and early s, and did not begin a music career until at the age of His record Death of a Ladies' Man , co-written and produced by Phil Spector , was a move away from Cohen's previous minimalist sound. In , Cohen returned with the more traditional Recent Songs , which blended his acoustic style with jazz, East Asian, and Mediterranean influences. Perhaps Cohen's most famous song, " Hallelujah ", was first released on his studio album Various Positions in I'm Your Man in marked Cohen's turn to synthesized productions.