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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Cohen was one of a kind

By Don Farmer

[email protected]

The world lost one of its star turns last Friday with the death of the hugely talented singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.

At first glance the Canadian looked to be the most unlikely man to capture an audience but with his abundant talent and charisma he did just that, and a worldwide one to boot.

With most people hearing the name Leonard Cohen immediately brings to mind the magnificent Hallelujah, a chart topper of his own creation and magnificent it is indeed.

But there was a lot more to Cohen whose ability to write, and sing, songs that go straight to the soul and get the minding working was a rare art.

Take for example First We Take Manhattan, a track which is capable of individual interpretation or In My Secret Life which causes all of us to reflect.

It was somewhat ironic that Cohen should die at around the time Donald Trump was to be elected president of the United States as one of his best tracks is Democracy with its leading line “ democracy is coming to the USA”.

We are yet to see what role democracy will play in a Trump administration.

There are a host of other great recordings from Cohen with Sisters of Mercy and A Thousand Kisses Deep being among them.

I believe it is true Cohen didn’t sing his songs as much as he spoke them but with his amazing resonance, great backing vocals and the power of his written words he was able to carry that off.

To some degree the immortal Johnny Cash did the same, and of course Oscar winning actor Walter Brennan who doubled as a recording artist relied entirely on speaking his lines in tracks like Old Shep and Old Rivers.

Cohen started life as a poet and novelist moving into song writing and singing in 1957 when he was aged 33.

He was also an accomplished guitarist and keyboard player and it is somewhat comforting to know that his last live performance was here in New Zealand, at the Vector Arena, Auckland, in late 2013.

It will be a long time indeed before the world has another Leonard Cohen but likewise his music will live on forever.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great tribute for one of the truly greats – as another great artist, Bob Dylan,humbly said to Cohen ‘you are number one , I am a zero’

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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