Leonard Cohen, 1934-2016
To close out what has been a difficult, unprecedented, sometimes other-worldly week here in the United States, we learned yesterday that the legendary singer/songwriter/poet/novelist Leonard Cohen died at the age of 82.
Cohen’s story is long and fascinating, and I encourage you to read David Remnick’s profile for the New Yorker from last month. There is one story in particular that is too good not to share. In 2004, Cohen discovered that his business manager of seventeen years Kelley Lynch had emptied out all of his accounts. While he promptly fired Lynch, took her to court, and was awarded a multi-million dollar settlement, he was never able to actually collect those funds.
So how did Cohen respond? He went back to work. In 2007 a tour was conceived utilizing a full band and requiring months of rehearsals.
The tour started in Canada, and then went everywhere during the next five years—three hundred and eighty shows, from New York to Nice, Moscow to Sydney. Cohen began every performance saying that he and the band would give “everything we’ve got,” and they did. “I think he was competing with Springsteen,” Sharon Robinson, a singer and frequent co-writer, joked about the length of the shows. “They were close to four hours some nights.”
Cohen’s legacy is stronger today than it was yesterday, and will continue to grow. His song “Hallelujah” has been covered and recorded and released so many times it may as well be a rite of passage for those contributing to the American songbook.
In remembering Cohen, and honoring his legacy, here are two of my favorites: Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris, and Jason Castro – whose rendition I saw in person a few years ago, and still gives me goosebumps to this day.