Arts & Entertainment

Singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen dies at 82

File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images
File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
File: Poet/recording artist Leonard Cohen attends the 52nd annual Grammy Awards-Special Merit Awards at the Wilshire Ebell Theater on Jan. 30, 2010 in Los Angeles.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
File: Musician Leonard Cohen (L) performs with guitarist Javier Mas at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 18, 2012 in New York City.
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
File: Musician Leonard Cohen performs at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 18, 2012 in New York City.
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
File: (L-R) Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins and Taylor Swift meet at the 41st Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Ceremony at The New York Marriott Marquis on June 17, 2010 in New York City.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Songwriter's Ha
File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
File: Canadian singer Leonard Cohen attends "Principe de Asturias" awards 2011 ceremony at the Campoamor Theatre on Oct. 21, 2011 in Oviedo, Spain.
Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
File: Musician Leonard Cohen performs at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 18, 2012 in New York City.
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
File: Singer/musician Leonard Cohen performs at Radio City Music Hall on April 6, 2013 in New York City.
File: Canadian singer Leonard Cohen attends "Principe de Asturias" awards 2011 ceremony at the Campoamor Theatre on Oct. 21, 2011 in Oviedo, Spain.
Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images


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Singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, best known for the poetic epic song "Hallelujah," has died, according to his official Facebook page. He was 82 years old, according to the Associated Press.

"It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away," the post reads. "We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries."

The post also notes that there will be a memorial for Cohen in Los Angeles at a date to be announced.

"Cohen was the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties and early Seventies," Rolling Stone wrote in its obituary of Cohen. "Only Bob Dylan exerted a more profound influence upon his generation, and perhaps only Paul Simon and fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell equaled him as a song poet. Cohen's haunting bass voice, nylon-stringed guitar patterns, Greek-chorus backing vocals shaped evocative songs that dealt with love and hate, sex and spirituality, war and peace, ecstasy and depression."

Cohen lived in the Mid-Wilshire area of L.A., according to the New Yorker. In the interview, the magazine printed a letter Cohen had sent earlier this year to his one-time girlfriend Marianne Ihlen after he found out in July that she was dying of cancer:

"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 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. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road."

Ihlen died shortly thereafter.

The Rolling Stone article also notes that Cohen continued to enjoy success into his eighties. His final album, "You Want It Darker," being released earlier this year.

"I never had the sense that there was an end," Cohen said in 1992, according to the Rolling Stone obituary. "That there was a retirement or that there was a jackpot."

Cohen's family requested privacy at this time, according to the Facebook post.

Watch Cohen perform his signature song, "Hallelujah," which became a cult hit after Jeff Buckley covered it in 1994:

Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah

Listen to a much younger Cohen perform another of his iconic songs, "Suzanne":

Suzanne video

Fellow musicians and other celebrities posted about Cohen's death on social media, including Sean Lennon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bette Midler, Moby, William Gibson and more. Many put Cohen's death in the context of a number of other high-profile deaths in 2016, including David Bowie and Prince.

Bette Midler tweet

 

Dear God, no. The darkness just got so much darker. Such a beautiful man, such a beautiful soul. Please rest in peace, Leonard.

A photo posted by moby XⓋX (@moby) on

Line-Manuel Miranda tweet

To help us remember a man whose musical work spanned nearly half a century, Take Two's Alex Cohen spoke with Nic Harcourt, whose morning music program can be heard on KCSN here in L.A.

Nic: "He came from a reasonably privileged upbringing in Montreal but he was exposed very early to country music and to blues music and that was something that resonated with him. But clearly, he was also very much a literary person and he started off as a poet, as a writer, writing short stories and novels. His voice really just came about, I think because he didn't know how to sing at the beginning but he found his voice through the words..."

Leonard Cohen was not only a brilliant poet and musician. He was also a Buddhist monk.  For decades, he practiced with a Japanese Zen master named Joshu Sasaki Roshi. 

In 1996, he was officially ordained here in Southern California at the Mount Baldy Zen Center. To better understand the role Buddhism played in his life and work, Alex Cohen also spoke with Hal Roth, Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Contemplative Studies Program at Brown University. 

Roth recalled the first time he met the musician, Buddhism in Cohen's music and he shared one of the last emails he received from Cohen:

"Dear Hal,

Always so good to hear your voice. Thank you for all you've done out of love for our ever present Roshi and for the righteous man in this landscape of thickening shadows. I have deeply cherished our friendship, you know that. This old body seems to linger on against my will. Nothing to do at last, I know that you are among the few who will understand when I say, I have never felt better. Countless bows to the immutable kindness of our teachers. Much love to you old friend. See you down the road."

This story has been updated.

To hear the full segment remembering Leonard Cohen, click the blue play button above.