“I’d love to speak with Leonard
He’s a sportsman, he’s shepherd
He’s a lazy bastard
Living in a suit
But he does say what I tell him
Even though it isn’t welcome
He just doesn’t have the freedom
Five months ago, we said goodbye to one of the truest gentlemen of songwriting. Leonard Cohen was living proof that one does not need a great voice. He did not have one. Just like Bob Dylan, his songs were more than just a few instruments playing or a man singing. Into every one of his creations, he’d put his very soul, and allying to that his deep, resonant and rumbling baritone, once an imperfection and unreliable instrument, he achieved true masterpieces that will endure forever in the hearts of music lovers.
He was a poet-troubadour, a songwriter and a musician, a novelist and a painter. He was an ordained Buddhist monk and he was a heroic ladies’ man. He explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships in his work. He spent many years perfecting his act and, if anything, his work aged as well as he did, charming as ever and audaciously humble.
But as I said before, Leonard Cohen’s work transcends that of a normal musician. It is as a poet and a songwriter that we will remember him. And that is not because his songs as a whole aren’t very good. His œuvre features some of the most emblematic songs of the 20th century, but his lyrics alone are masterpieces, in which we can sense the passion that he’d put into everything he created. He truly is among the most exhilarating creative writers of the past century.
For those with the time to spare, I would advice Leonard Cohen’s Live in London, his first full concert show release as well as his first released DVD. The album was recorded in July 17, 2008 at London’s O2 Arena, and is an example of how Cohen, age 73 at the time, was a sublime and inspiring entertainer that could still pull off a two and a half hour show. Always humble, kneeling before his audience in devotion, with a self-deprecating sense of humour that would muster cheers from the crowd whenever he poked fun at his own age.
“If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will”
We will never see his kind again on a stage, but we have his songs to remember him by, and as he himself sang on his final record “It’s over now, the water and the wine, we were broken then, but now we’re borderline”.
For those who are still not acquainted with his work, I would like to suggest the following Leonard Cohen songs, apart from Hallelujah, which is arguably one his most renowned and covered songs:
João is a Management student at NOVA School of Business & Economics and the current Editor-in-Chief of NOVA Press. He is part of the Peer Tutoring program as a tutor, as well as a member of NOVA Students’ Union and NOVA Debate Club. His interests go from music to politics and hopes to follow a career in teaching.
Last modified: 01/10/2017