Monday, December 1, 2014

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

Leonard Cohen, born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1936, is one of the most enduring of the folk music heroes that emerged during the Sixties. As a songwriter, he is only rivaled by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and few others in the folk/rock universe. Cohen is noted for his quirky takes on the traditional love song and his use of religious imagery to paint portraits of regret and heartbreak.

Cohen’s debut album was the stark, “Songs of Leonard Cohen” (1967), which features his spare guitar playing and solemn, almost spoken vocals. The album contains the superb songs, “Suzanne,” “Master Song,” “The Strange Song,” and “So Long, Marianne.” Cohen’s guitar and vocals are tastefully supported by the occasional restrained electric guitar, string, reed, horn or woodwind.

Cohen’s debut may well be his masterpiece, but several other contenders were yet to come, including, “Songs of Love and Hate” from 1971. This album is sonically quite similar to his debut and contains somewhat less familiar, although just as memorable songs such as, “Avalanche” and “Dress Rehearsal Rag.” In 1974, Cohen recorded the fine album, “New Skin for the Old Ceremony,” the first of his albums in several years to rival his earliest work. The music here is somewhat sunnier than that on his earlier classics with a somewhat countryish flavor.

Cohen has disappeared from the music scene for long periods during his career to pursue other artistic endeavours such as writing books or poetry, but he has always managed to return with his faculties intact. After a long hiatus, Cohen returned to music in 1988, and recorded another classic with the synth-pop album, “I’m Your Man,” featuring the classic songs, “First We Take Manhattan” and “Take This Waltz.”

Cohen is still active in music today, now well into his seventies. 

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