On the outset, Leonard Cohen’s music doesn’t seem metal in the least. He came up with the 60’s hippies in the Village with peers like Dylan, Joplin, and Van Ronk but even to them he was an outsider. While they grew their hair long and dressed as vagabonds, Cohen kept well barbered hair and consistently wore tailored suits. Cohen’s haunting gravel dry baritone was the complete juxtaposition to the jazzy vocals of his folk contemporaries.
Cohen passed away last night at the age of 82. His Facebook page stating, “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.”
Like any good metal song, Cohen’s music is dark, angry, dirty, and sexy. It is filled with unanswerable existential angst and cage-rattling political manifestos. But he found understanding in the darkness – optimism within the pessimism, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” He is the sensei to Nick Cave, Swans, Tom Waits, and so many others. His songs have been covered by so many artists there is a chance, if you think you don’t know his music, that you’ve loved one of his songs. The ironically titled “Hallelujah” being his most famous track (with 60+ covers), diving deep into the twisted connection between religion and sex.
He even released an album only months before his death called You Want It Darker where he sings, “Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name. Vilified, crucified, in the human frame. A million candles burning for the help that never came. You want it darker” Cohen considered You Want It Darker to be one of his greatest records. I strongly recommend you take some time out today to listen to his work.