Leonard Cohen, a legendary talent known as the ‘songwriter’s songwriter,’ died at 82. His death was announced Thursday and no cause was given.
Cohen was an enigmatic man who didn’t set out to be a songwriter, though he grew up loving Hank Williams and country music. He had an eclectic youth in Montreal, working in jobs at a foundry and even a clothing factory. He’d go on to study at McGill and even Columbia. Still, he’d imagined he’d become an author, not a musician.
That dream changed with the guitar and a handful of lessons in his 20s. His teacher never showed up to their fifth lesson — Cohen would learn later that man had taken his life sometime after their fourth class. But those chance sessions with a man he barely knew inadvertently formed the basis for his remaining life and legacy.
He would publish works of poetry and fiction, but would be most known as an influential songwriter whose haunting works would span nearly five decades. He’d record 14 studio albums with songs covered by everyone from Judy Collins to Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake and Bono. Hallelujah, one of his most well-known songs, has been covered so many times and by so many people, Newsweek ranked 60 versions of just that song on the tune’s 30th anniversary last year.
Remarkably, Cohen remained a working musician until nearly the end. He toured often during 2008 to 2013 — while he was in his 70s — and released a new album just month.
His lyrics were so iconic, on hearing the news of his passing, fans took to Twitter Thursday instantly sharing their favorite lyrics in tribute. Some of these fans included heads of state, actors and actresses and Tony winners.
— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) November 11, 2016
“He sank beneath your wisdom