MONTREAL, CANADA November 1, 2017 – If we believe in the poet, we believe that in death we will find those that we loved and that left before us. Leonard Cohen died just about a year ago, on November 7, 2017.
Posting to Facebook, the family of Leonard Cohen invites fans from around the world to join them, along with renowned musicians, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec in celebrating Cohen’s legacy for Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Nov. 6, 2017.
Participating artists include Elvis Costello, Lana Del Rey, Feist, Philip Glass, k.d. lang, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers, Damien Rice, Sting, Patrick Watson, and Adam Cohen.
“My father left me with a list of instructions before he passed: ‘Put me in a pine box next to my mother and father. Have a small memorial for close friends and family in Los Angeles…and if you want a public event do it in Montreal,’” said singer-songwriter Adam Cohen “I see this concert as a fulfillment of my duties to my father that we gather in Montreal to ring the bells that still can ring.”
Leonard Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016)
Born in Montreal, the Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, and painter pursued a career as a poet and novelist during the 1950s and early 1960s, setting his writing to music in 1967, at the age of 33.
Abandoning his promising literary career, Leonard Cohen became one of the foremost songwriters of the contemporary era. His writings explored love, religion, politics, sexuality and his personal relationships.
In their biography of Cohen, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says:
His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), was followed by three more folk music albums: Songs from a Room (1969), Songs of Love and Hate(1971) and New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974).
Death of a Ladies’ Man (1977) was co-written by Phil Spector who was also producer, moving away from Cohen’s minimalist sound. In 1979, Cohen’s more traditional Recent Songs returned to his unique acoustic style with jazz, Oriental and Mediterranean influences.
Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah!
Perhaps Cohen’s most famous song, “Hallelujah” was first released on his studio album Various Positions in 1984.
I’m Your Man in 1988 remains his most popular album. In 1992, Cohen released its follow-up, The Future, which had dark lyrics and references to political and social unrest.
Cohen returned to music in 2001 with the release of Ten New Songs, followed by his eleventh album, Dear Heather in 2004.
After a successful string of tours between 2008 and 2010, Cohen released three albums in the final four years of his life: Old Ideas (2012), Popular Problems (2014) and You Want It Darker (2016). You Want It Darker was released just three weeks before his death.
A song reflective of Mr. Cohen deep religious beliefs, in the title track of his final album “You Want It Darker,” he sings, “I’m ready, my Lord.”
The artist is an inductee to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Leonard Cohen: Canada’s most favored son
A favored son of Canada, Cohen was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.
After his final tour, the singer fell into poor health. A fall in his home led to his death.
“My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records,” Cohen’s son Adam wrote in a statement to Rolling Stone. “He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”
Before his death, the songwriter made it known that he wished his burial “in a traditional Jewish rite beside his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.”
His rabbi Adam Scheier wrote in a statement:
“Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed,” his manager Robert Kory wrote in a statement. “I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand, was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration, and healing for generations to come.”
Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen
Mr. Cohen, as all great artists, had a muse by the name of Marianne Ihlen. Ihlen inspired Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne.” Ms. Ihlen died of leukemia in July of 2016, just three months before Cohen’s death.
Prior to her passing, Cohen wrote her a letter that anticipated his own death:
“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.”
“Do not weep at my grave – I am not there
I am in the sun’s reflection in the sea
I am in the wind’s play above the grain fields
I am in the autumn’s gentle rain
I am in the Milky Way’s string of stars
And when on an early morning you are awaked by bird’s song
It is my voice that you are hearing
So do not weep at my grave – we shall meet again.”