One of the most highly regarded and influential songwriters, Leonard Cohen is a living legend in music. He has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Cohen, originally from Canada, began his career as a poet, publishing his first book in ... More
One of the most highly regarded and influential songwriters, Leonard Cohen is a living legend in music. He has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Cohen, originally from Canada, began his career as a poet, publishing his first book in 1956. It wasn’t until 1967, when he was disappointed with the financial success he was having as a writer that he moved to the United States to pursue a career in the folk music scene. His first album, “Songs of Leonard Cohen”, quickly became a cult favorite with such artists as James Taylor and Judy Collins covering songs from it. He followed up with “Songs from a Room” in 1969 and “Songs of Love and Hate” in 1970.
Cohen went on tour for the first time in 1970, traveling throughout the United States, Canada and Europe including an appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival, which was later released as a live album in 2009. In 1971, while Cohen was living in Nashville, director Robert Altman called to ask Cohen’s permission to use some of his songs for his movie “McCabe & Mrs. Miller”. To support his album “New Skin for the Old Ceremony”, Cohen went on tour with pianist John Lissauer, which brought a live sound that critics loved. 1975 saw the release of a “Best Of” compilation and in 1976 he went on a European tour with a new band, resulting in shifts in his songs sounds and arrangements as well as his first appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Once again attempting a change in style and arrangements, “Death of a Ladies Man”, released in 1977, was co-written and produced by Phil Spector. Cohen was not happy with the difficulties that were occurring in the studio as well as the finished product. He took no part in the promotion of the album and has rarely performed songs off this album. “Recent Songs” (1979), saw him return to his more traditional sound, blending acoustic guitar with Jazz and Oriental and Mediterranean influences (in 2001, Cohen said this album was his favorite). Bringing in these influences as well as an Austin-based jazz-fusion band brought a new sound to the recordings. The tour in support of this album was later made into the movie “The Song of Leonard Cohen” broadcast on television in 1980.
1984 saw Cohen reunite with John Lissauer to produce his album “Various Positions”. This included such songs as “Dance Me to the End of Love” and the often covered “Hallelujah”. His label, Columbia declined to release the album, but this didn’t stop Cohen from embarking on his biggest tour to date. He traveled to Europe and Australia and it marked his first tour in Canada and the United States since 1975. They also performed a series of politically controversial concerts in Poland, who at the time was under Martial Law. His song “The Partisan” was regarded as the hymn of the Polish Solidarity movement. The increasing popularity in the use of Synthesizers would find its way onto 1988’s “I’m Your Man” resulting in the single “Everybody Knows”. Cohen again went an extensive tour and appeared for his first time on Austin City Limits. Many of the shows from this tour were broadcast on European and US television and radio stations. A selection of these performances was later released in 1994 as “Cohen Live”.
In 1992, the release of “The Future” and some of its songs being featured in the movie “Natural Born Killers”, helped him reach a younger audience in the US. He published a book of selected poems and music titled “Stranger Music” and released another “Best Of”. In 1994 Cohen moved into the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in Los Angeles for what became a five year seclusion. Around this time it was speculated if Cohen would ever return to recording or publishing.
Eventually in 2001 Cohen came out with new music, first with the release of “Ten New Songs” and then in 2004 with “Dear Heather”. 2005 saw him publically battle financial issues with his longtime former manager who misappropriated over $5 million from his retirement fund. He finally released his book of poetry and drawings, “Book of Longing” in 2006 and it quickly became a bestseller. He made his first public appearance in thirteen years at an in store event in a Toronto bookstore, resulting in 3000 people showing up and forcing them to close the surrounding streets. In 2008 he went on his first world tour in 15 years, with a highlighting performance at the Glastonbury Festival in June. “Live in London” was released in 2009 and features a recording of his July 17, 2008 concert at London’s O2 Arena. He continued to tour the remainder of the world in 2009, resulting in his most financially successful tour to date, earning a reported $9.5 million. He continued to tour throughout 2010 and in January 2012 he released the studio album “Old Ideas”, which received positive reviews. Leonard Cohen is currently on tour in support of his newest album.