Thursday, November 10, 2016


I'm very sad to hear the news that Leonard Cohen died today.

He was always a strange, enigmatic figure;  spiritual, yet earthly;  musical yet discordant in so many aspects of his life.  From his very first album, he caught my attention.  I didn't enjoy a lot of his music, but some of his songs captivated me.  Try this one:  from his third album, 'Songs of Love and Hate' in 1971, here's 'Avalanche'.

Earlier this year a lady with whom he'd had a ten-year relationship, Marianne Ihlen, died in Sweden.  I mentioned in August his poignant, moving farewell letter to her.

Mollestad, a documentary filmmaker, read the letter to Ihlen before she died.

He recalled: "It said, 'Well Marianne, it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.

"And you know that I've always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom, but I don't need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey."

Mollestad told host Rosemary Barton that when he read the line "stretch out your hand", Ihlen had stretched out her hand.

Here's the song that he wrote about her, one of his earliest and most famous melodies.

Leonard Cohen released his final album less than a month ago.  The music makes it clear that he knew he didn't have much time left.  To illustrate, listen to the title track.

Thanks for the music, Leonard.  May the earth lie lightly upon you, and may your soul soar into the light that you seemed to experience so seldom, and portrayed so fleetingly in your music.


EDITED TO ADD:  The New Yorker published an extended interview with Leonard Cohen last month.  It's very interesting reading.  Also, the Telegraph's music critic ranks his 14 albums 'from (relatively) worst to best'.


Anonymous said...

A sad day indeed. "Closing Time' is my favourite. "Johnny Walker wisdom" is the sort of phrase I wish I could come up with.


Gail said...

I'm impressed. I'm sorry I found him late but thanks for the introduction.

Three songs, I'm interested, hear the fingers fly and then the voice. Mystical. The pain is clear, the exodus is alive.

Thank you.

Timbo said...


Chris said...

A truly talented man. It is sad to see him go, but at least he had a good long life.