ENTERTAINMENT

Legendary Musician Leonard Cohen Dead At 82

The Canadian singer-songwriter's death comes just weeks after the release of his new album, "You Want It Darker.”

11/11/2016 12:56 PM AEDT | Updated 11/11/2016 2:18 PM AEDT
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
Eloy Alonso / Reuters

Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, whose voice was as golden as his lyrics were moving, has died, Sony Music confirmed on his Facebook page Thursday. He was 82.

Cohen’s death comes just weeks after the release of his 14th studio album, “You Want It Darker” ― a befitting final farewell on which he sings plainly and beautifully about death knocking at his door. 

Hineni, hineni, I’m ready my Lord,” Cohen laments on the album’s self-titled track. (“Hineni” is Hebrew for “here I am,” which is how Abraham answered when God commanded that he sacrifice his son Isaac in the Bible’s Old Testament.)

I’m leaving the table. I’m out of the game,” Cohen sings on another new track.

In his review late October, National Public Radio Rock Critic Ken Tucker declares the album is “less a summing up than a living will, complete with gifts for how to negotiate a life for maximum passion.”

Frank Lennon via Getty Images
TORONTO, ON: Poet-singer Leonard Cohen performing at Massey Hall. Photo taken by Frank Lennon Dec. 7, 1970. (Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Throughout his career, Cohen wore his heart on his sleeve, never shying away from talking, writing or singing about life, sexuality, spirituality or death.

Cohen spoke candidly to The New Yorker last month about his “proximity to death.”

“I’ve got some work to do,” he told David Remnick. “Take care of business. I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”

During a listening party last month in Los Angeles, however, Cohen backpedaled on those comments. 

“I said I was ready to die recently, and I think that was exaggerating,” he said, drawing laughs. “One is given to self-dramatization from time to time. I intend to live forever.”

Born in 1934 in Montreal, Cohen’s first book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies, was published in 1956). He became a folk singer in the 1960s and released his first album, “Songs Of Leonard Cohen,” in 1967.

Among Cohen’s most famous songs are the ballad “Hallelujah,” “So Long Marianne,””First We Take Manhattan” and “Tower of Song.”

In his home country of Canada, Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, Cohen recited the lyrics of his “Tower of Song.”

In 2010, The Recording Academy honored Cohen with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Although Cohen brought comfort to many, he dealt with depression since his adolescence. He spent several years in the 1990s living at a mountaintop Zen Buddhist monastery outside of Los Angeles, he told The New Yorker.

“Moving into some periods, which were debilitating, when I found it hard to get off the couch, to periods when I was fully operative but the background noise of anguish still prevailed.” he told the magazine.

Eventually, Cohen left the monastery and returned to music. 

In 2004, however, he discovered that his long-time manager, Kelley Lynch, had stolen millions from his retirement fund. Lynch was ordered to pay $9.5 million, and she was later sentenced to 18 months in jail for harassment, according to The Guardian. 

Cohen went back on tour to offset his financial difficulties, a move that proved to be a major success. He went on to play nearly 400 shows around the globe between 2008 and 2013, before his physical health began to deteriorate, Rolling Stone reports.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Despite being “confined to barracks,” as he described his own situation to The New Yorker, Cohen managed to find the energy for not one, but two more albums. “Popular Problems” was released in 2014. 

“At times I was very worried about his health, and the only thing that buoyed his spirits was the work itself,” Cohen’s son Adam told Rolling Stone about the recent album project. “And given the incredible and acute discomfort he was suffering from in his largely immobilized state, [creating this album] was a great distraction.”  

In July, Cohen learned that his former girlfriend Marianne Ihlen, the inspiration behind his famous song “So Long, Marianne,” was dying of leukemia. In an emotional and touching letter that was read to Ihlen just before she died, Cohen wished his old friend farewell.

“Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon,” Cohen wrote. “Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

The musician is survived by his son, Adam Cohen, and daughter, Lorca Cohen. 

  • Brian Rasic via Getty Images
    Leonard Cohen In Concert At Wembley Arena, London, Britain, Sept. 9, 2012.
  • Graham Denholm via Getty Images
    Leonard Cohen performs live for fans at Rod Laver Arena on Nov. 20, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.
  • JAVIER SORIANO via Getty Images
    Canadian singer Leonard Cohen acknowledges applauses before the concert "A Tribute to Leonard Cohen" at the Jovellanos Theatre in Gijon, on Oct. 19, 2011. Cohen will receive the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters from Spain's Crown Prince Felipe during a ceremony on Oct. 21, 2011 in Oviedo. 
  • JAVIER SORIANO via Getty Images
    Canadian singer Leonard Cohen acknowledges applauses at the Jovellanos Theatre before the concert "A Tribute to Leonard Cohen" in Gijon, on Oct. 19, 2011. Cohen will receive the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters from Spain's Crown Prince Felipe during a ceremony on Oct. 21, 2011 in Oviedo. 
  • Stephen J. Cohen via Getty Images
    Leonard Cohen performs in concert at the Louisville Palace on March 30, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. 
  • Tim Mosenfelder via Getty Images
    Leonard Cohen performs in support of his Live in London release at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. 
  • VALERY HACHE via Getty Images
    Canadian singer Leonard Cohen performs during the Nice Jazz Festival, on July 22, 2008, in Nice, southern France. 
  • Marc Andrew Deley via Getty Images
    Honoree Leonard Cohen during the 2012 Awards for Lyrics of Literary Excellence at The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library And Museum on Feb. 26, 2012, in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • GNA via Getty Images
    UNITED STATES - MARCH 10: WALDORF ASTORIA HOTEL Photo of Leonard COHEN, Portrait of Leonard Cohen in the press room after his induction in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Photo by GNA/Redferns)
  • Vince Bucci via Getty Images
    Singer/songwriter/poet Leonard Cohen attends the Los Angeles premiere of the film "Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man" on June 24, 2006 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre during the LA Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. 
  • Kerstin Rodgers via Getty Images
    UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 29: GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL Photo of Leonard COHEN, Leonard Cohen performing on the Pyramid stage (Photo by Kerstin Rodgers/Redferns)
  • Photoshot via Getty Images
    Portraits of Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen photographed in London. Job: 55670 Ref: BMN - Exclusive (Photo by Photoshot/Getty Images)
  • John Sciulli via Getty Images
    Leonard Cohen (Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage for LIONSGATE)
  • Andrew Stawicki via Getty Images
    CANADA - OCTOBER 06: Leonard Cohen (Photo by Andrew Stawicki/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
  • Eamonn McCabe via Getty Images
    UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Photo of Leonard COHEN; posed (Photo by Eamonn McCabe/Redferns)
  • Eamonn McCabe via Getty Images
    Portrait of Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, London, 2001. (Photo by Eamonn McCabe/Redferns)
  • Brian Rasic via Getty Images
    Leonard Cohen Performing At Royal Albert Hall, London, Britain - May 1993, Leonard Cohen (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
  • Ron Bull via Getty Images
    CANADA - MAY 20: Hopping and headstands: Leonard Cohen was recently in Granada to film a video for Small Viennese Waltz, his offering on Poets in New York, an alburm celebrating Federico Garcia Lorca. (Photo by Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
  • Waring Abbott via Getty Images
    NEW YORK - JULY 18: Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist Leonard Cohen at a photo shoot on July 18, 1988 in New York City. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)
  • ullstein bild via Getty Images
    (GERMANY OUT) Cohen, Leonard *21.09.1934-Musiker, Schriftsteller, Kanada- Portrait im Eisenbahnabteil- undatiert (Photo by CBS/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
  • Thierry Orban via Getty Images
    Canadian singer and composer Leonard Cohen performing on stage at Salle Pleyel in Paris, France. (Photo by THIERRY ORBAN/Sygma via Getty Images)
  • Reg Innell via Getty Images
    CANADA - JANUARY 21: His hair combed back, Greek-style, from his tanned forehead, with a black open-necked shirt under a plain gray suit, Leonard Cohen yesterday talked with Star book editor Roy MacSkimming about Greece, mutual friends and writing. (Photo by Reg Innell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
  • Jorgen Angel via Getty Images
    DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 01: Photo of Leonard COHEN; posed (Photo by Jorgen Angel/Redferns)
  • Ellen Poppinga - K & K via Getty Images
    HAMBURG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 26: Leonard Cohen performs live on stage at the Musikhalle in Hamburg, Germany on September 26 1974 (Photo by Ellen Poppinga - K & K/Redferns)
  • Michael Putland via Getty Images
    Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, London, June 1974. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
  • Michael Putland via Getty Images
    Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, London, June 1974. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
  • Gijsbert Hanekroot via Getty Images
    Leonard Cohen poses for a portrait in April 1972 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
  • Graham Bezant via Getty Images
    CANADA - JUNE 27: Leonard Cohen. Went south to make his fortune. (Photo by Graham Bezant/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
  • ullstein bild via Getty Images
    (GERMANY OUT) Cohen, Leonard *21.09.1934-, Musiker, Schriftsteller, Kanada, - bei einem Auftritt , - 1972 (Photo by Lövenich/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
  • GAB Archive via Getty Images
    UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen posed in 1972. (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
  • Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
    UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Leonard Cohen Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  • Tony Russell via Getty Images
    ISLE OF WIGHT, UK - AUGUST 30: Canadian singer Leonard Cohen performs on stage at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 30 1970. (Photo by Tony Russell/Redferns)
  • ullstein bild via Getty Images
    (GERMANY OUT) Cohen, Leonard *21.09.1934-Musiker, Schriftsteller, Kanada- waehrend eines Auftritts- 1974 (Photo by Will/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Also on HuffPost
Musicians We've Lost In 2016

More On This Topic

Advertisement
Advertisement