Leonard Cohen

Hallelujah: Listening to Leonard Cohen Again

I first found Leonard Cohen’s music when I was a girl trying to figure out what life meant to me. First he was a poet and novelist, and those creative pursuits carried through the songs he wrote and sang. Naturally, I enjoyed his earlier works like Suzanne, The Partisan, and Bird on a Wire. He was one of the people who provided my musical soundtrack with that ever-so-recognizable voice, one that was unadorned and to some, too even-toned.

Then, I stopped seeking out Cohen. After all, there are so many more people producing interesting music. The one exception was his song, Hallelujah, which has been sung as well by others although I believe Cohen does it best, which is not surprising since he felt what he intended when he wrote it.

But my interest returned big time when I recently watched the documentary, “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song” on Netflix. Here’s a trailer to get you interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63t3ah4XB0c

The documentary focuses on that powerful song, certainly, but it also explores the complexities of Cohen, who died in 2016 at age 82. He was a man who explored the many aspects of life — love, loss, spirituality, sex etc. He was even betrayed by a trusted manager who stole from him, forcing him later in life to go on the road.

So, I started listening to Leonard Cohen again. Luckily, it was easy to do on Spotify. I began with the early albums. Okay, I remember many of those. They’re okay. Ah, there’s Hallelujah. But it wasn’t until I got to his later albums that his music resonated deeply in me once again. (Plus he has those amazing backup singers and musicians.)

So late in the afternoon, while I do a little more writing, this time at the kitchen table instead of at my desk, and while dinner is cooking, I listen to Leonard Cohen, the later Leonard Cohen. I begin with Tower of Song, a song he wrote in 1988 for the album I’m Your Man, with its opening line ” Well, my friends are gone and my hair is grey/ I ache in the places where I used to play/ And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on” and just let his music roll through the years as he sings in that golden voice of his about what he’s learned from his experiences and observations. I’ve been doing this for weeks now, a few days each, but I haven’t gotten tired of listening to Cohen sing.

This is the mature Leonard Cohen, and these days, his music largely forms the soundtrack of my life.

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: That’s the cover to Leonard Cohen’s album, I’m Your Man.

LINK TO A BLOG POST: Miriam Drori invited me onto her website to share my thoughts on writing and working with an international publisher. You can read it here:  https://miriamdrori.com/2023/03/03/an-interview-with-joan-livingston/