Tribute: Leonard Cohen the Smoky Prince of Prose and Poetry (1934-2016)

Tribute: Leonard Cohen the Smoky Prince of Prose and Poetry (1934-2016)

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Leonard Norma Cohen, the dark sultry singer responsible for the most chillingly melancholy lyrics of all time quietly passed away last night in his Los Angeles home at the age of 82.

The cause of death has not yet been released, but the musician’s Facebook page released a statement declaring his passing shortly after.

“It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away,” the statement read. “We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.”

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Cohen’s 50 year career included 14 studio albums, 14 books of poetry, and two novels: The Favorite Game and Beautiful Losers. His most recent album You Want It Darker was released three weeks before his death to profound commercial success.

“My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records,” Cohen’s son Adam wrote in a statement to Rolling Stone. “He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”

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The Jewish-Canadian singer born in Montreal is perhaps the most well-known for his legendary ballad “Hallelujah” released in 1984. The song has been covered by almost 200 artists in multiple languages, the most well-known of which include John Cale and Jeff Buckley.

He originally started playing guitar in high school where he studied poetry and literature and formed a folk group called the Buckskin Boys. He didn’t continue fully pursuing music, however, until after he had published his poetry and moved to New York to explore the blossoming art scene of the 60s and 70s.

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Though he dabbled in Buddhism and Scientology alongside his Jewish upbringing, it’s not hard to see that he had a firm handle on spirituality. His passing can best be described in his own words from I Have Not Lingered in European Monosteries:

“I have not held my breath
so that I might hear the breathing of God
or tamed my heartbeat with an exercise,
or starved for visions.
Although I have watched him often
I have not become the heron,
leaving my body on the shore,
and I have not become the luminous trout,
leaving my body in the air.

I have not worshipped wounds and relics,
or combs of iron,
or bodies wrapped and burnt in scrolls.

I have not been unhappy for ten thousands years.
During the day I laugh and during the night I sleep.
My favorite cooks prepare my meals,
my body cleans and repairs itself,
and all my work goes well.”

Rest in peace, prince of poetry.

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