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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Who is Leonard Cohen?

Who is Leonard Norman Cohen? The entertainment and music world know him as Leonard Cohen, he is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality and interpersonal relationships.[1] Famously reclusive,[2] having once spent several years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, and possessing a persona frequently associated with mystique,[3][4] he is extremely well regarded by critics for his literary accomplishments, for the richness of his lyrics, and for producing an output of work of high artistic quality over a five-decade career.
Musically, Cohen's earliest songs (many of which appeared on the 1967 album, Songs of Leonard Cohen) were rooted in European folk music.[8] In the 1970s, his material encompassed pop, cabaret and world music. Since the 1980s, his high baritone voice has evolved into lower registers (bass baritone and bass), with accompaniment from a wide variety of instruments and female backup singers.
Over 2,000 renditions of Cohen's songs have been recorded. Cohen has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. While giving the speech at Cohen's induction into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 10 March 2008, Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the "highest and most influential echelon of songwriters."[9]
From May 2008 to December 2010, Cohen was on the major comeback world tour, the biggest in his musical career, giving 246 shows in Europe, Australia, Canada, Israel and United States. The highly successful tour was followed with two live albums, Live in London and Songs from the Road in both audio and DVD versions, and with many reissues, unauthorised releases of album compilations, DVDs, biographies and books reprints, and as well many international translations of his books and international awards and nominations (such as Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Meteor Music Awards in Ireland, Porin Award in Croatia, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Polaris Music Prize, and Mojo Honours Lists). In 2011 he received two highest award: Glenn Gould Prize and Spain's high award for literature, Prince de Asturias. Currently he is working on a new album which will possibly be released in late 2011.[10]

Early life

Cohen was born on  September 21, 1934 in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, into a middle-class Jewish family. His mother, of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry, emigrated from Lithuania while his great-grandfather emigrated from Poland.[11] Cohen's father was Polish.[12] He grew up in Westmount on the Island of Montreal. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial Montreal clothing store, died when Cohen was nine years old. On the topic of being a Kohen, Cohen has said that, "I had a very Messianic childhood." He told Richard Goldstein in 1967. "I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest."[13] Cohen attended Herzliah High School, where he studied with poet Irving Layton. As a teenager, he learned to play the guitar, and formed a country-folk group called the Buckskin Boys. His father's will provided him with a modest trust income, sufficient to allow him to pursue his literary ambitions, without having to worry about where his rent would come from.

Poetry and novels

In 1951, Cohen enrolled at McGill University, where he became president of the McGill Debating Union. His literary influences during this time included Yeats, Irving Layton, Whitman, Federico Garcia Lorca and Henry Miller.[14] His first published book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), was published under Louis Dudek as the first book in the McGill Poetry Series while Cohen was still an undergraduate student. Cohen's book, The Spice-Box of Earth (1961) made him well known in poetry circles, especially in his native Canada. After completing an undergraduate degree, Cohen spent a term in McGill's law school and then a year (1956-7) at Columbia University.
Cohen wrote poetry and fiction throughout much of the 1960s. He preferred to live in quasi-reclusive circumstances, at the time. After moving to Hydra, a Greek island, Cohen published the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964), and the novels The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966). His novel The Favourite Game is an autobiographical bildungsroman about a young man who discovers his identity through writing.
Subsequently, Cohen published less, with major gaps, concentrating more on recording the songs. In 1978 he published his major book of poetry and prose Death of a Lady's Man, and in 1984 Book of Mercy, which won him Canadian Author's Association Literary Award for Poetry. The book contains 50 pieces of poetic prose, influenced by the Bible, Torah, and Zen-Buddhist writings. Although cited as "contemporary psalms", Cohen himself referred to the pieces as "prayers".
In 1993, Cohen published Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs, and in 2006, after 10 years of delays, additions and rewritings, Book of Longing. During late 1990s and 2000s, many of his poems were first published on his fan website The Leonard Cohen Files [15] [16]
Cohen's writing process, as he told an interviewer in 1998, is " a bear stumbling into a beehive or a honey cache: I'm stumbling right into it and getting stuck, and it's delicious and it's horrible and I'm in it and it's not very graceful and it's very awkward and it's very painful and yet there's something inevitable about it."[17]
In 2011 Cohen was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for literature.

Recording career

1960s and 1970s

In 1967, Cohen moved to the United States to pursue a career as a folk music singer-songwriter. During the 1960s, he was a fringe figure in Andy Warhol's "Factory" crowd. Warhol speculated that Cohen had spent time listening to Nico in clubs and that this had influenced his musical style.[18] His song "Suzanne" became a hit for Judy Collins and was for many years his most covered song.

After performing at a few folk festivals, he came to the attention of Columbia Records representative John H. Hammond. At this time, Cohen recorded at least one demo acetate (for Asylum Records or some subsidiary of Polygram[19]), supported by his close companion at the time, Joni Mitchell.
Cohen's first album was Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967). He became a cult name in the U.S., as well as in the UK, where the album spent over a year on the album charts.[20] Several of the songs on that first album were covered by other popular folk artists, including James Taylor, and Judy Collins. Cohen followed up that first album with Songs from a Room (1969) (featuring the often-recorded "Bird on the Wire"), Songs of Love and Hate (1971), Live Songs (1973) and New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974), but already with the first album started his misunderstanding with the producers and label. John Hammond's sessions were released only on 2007 reissue of Songs of Leonard Cohen, in sound which differs from Cohen's now recognisable early style. John Simon, producer of Songs of Leonard Cohen, withdrew from the album's final sessions, leaving Cohen to mix the album so Cohen himself could hide the strings and piano arrangements he has objected. After that experience, Cohen worked with David Crosby; the first attempts at songs from the second album were released on the 2007 reissue of Songs from a Room. The second and third album were in the end produced in Nashville by famed producer Bob Johnston, who played major role in achieving Cohen's ideal early sound and also joined Cohen on two subsequent live tours (playing organ and piano). Johnston, then famed in the music business for his work for Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, arguably lost his momentum in the music industry as he left Nashville for two years (soon he left Columbia as well), and according to his 2007 interview, Dylan did not receive well his leaving for Cohen.[21]
In 1970, Cohen toured for the first time, with dates in the United States, Canada and Europe, and appearing at the Isle of Wight Festival. He toured with basically same band (including Charlie Daniels, and his producer Bob Johnston on the organ and piano) in 1972, but in Europe in Israel. Both tour were presented on Live Songs LP, while Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 was released only in 2009. The 1972 tour was filmed by Tony Palmer; the film Bird on a Wire (with which Cohen was unhappy) was shown re-cut under Cohen's guidance in 1974, but released only in 2010, reconstructed according to Palmer's original version.
In 1971, Cohen's music was used in the soundtrack to Robert Altman's film McCabe & Mrs. Miller. When Cohen was on a stay in Nashville, Altman phoned to ask permission to use some tracks off Songs of Leonard Cohen. Coincidentally, earlier that same day, Cohen had seen Altman's then-current film Brewster McCloud in a local theater. He hadn't paid attention to the credits so when Altman asked permission to use Cohen's songs in his new film, Cohen had to ask him who he was. Altman mentioned his hit film MASH, but Cohen had never heard of it. When Altman mentioned his lesser-known Brewster McCloud, Cohen replied, "Listen, I just came out of the theater. I saw it twice. You can have anything of mine you want!"[22]
Beginning around 1974, Cohen's collaboration with pianist and arranger John Lissauer created a live sound praised by the critics. They toured together in 1974 in Europe, and in US and Canada in late 1974 and early 1975, in support of their record New Skin for the Old Ceremony. In late 1975 Cohen performed short series of show in the US and Canada with new band, in support of his Best Of release, and also trying out the new songs from his and Lissauer's follow-up to New Skin for the Old Ceremony, an abandoned album entitled "Songs for Rebecca". Songs from that project were later reworked for Death of a Ladies' Man and Recent Songs albums. None of the recordings from the three live tours with John Lissauer were released officially.
In 1976 Cohen, now without Lissauer, embarked on the new major European tour, with brand new band and major change in sound and arrangements, in support of his The Best of Leonard Cohen release, in Europe retitled as Greatest Hits. One of the band member was Laura Branigan, and the setlist included unreleased songs "Everybody's Child" (a.k.a. "Blessed Is the Memory") and "Storeroom" (both released as bonus tracks to 2007 reissue of Songs of Leonard Cohen), and new song "Do I Have to Dance All Night?", which remains unreleased. From April to July, Cohen gave 55 shows, including his first appearance at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival. Nothing from the shows was officially released to this day.
After the European tour of 1976, Cohen again attempted the new change in his style and arrangements - his new 1977 record, Death of a Ladies' Man (one year later, in 1978, Cohen released a volume of poetry with the coyly revised title, Death of a Lady's Man), was co-written and produced by Phil Spector, known as the inventor of the "wall of sound" technique, which backs up pop music with many layers of instrumentation, an approach very different from Cohen's usually minimalist instrumentation. The recording of the album was fraught with difficulty—Spector reportedly mixed the album in secret studio sessions, and Cohen said Spector once threatened him with a crossbow. Cohen thought the end result "grotesque,"[23] but also "semi-virtuous."[24] The record was released by Spector's label, Warner, and was returned to Columbia's Cohen catalogue in late 1980s. Cohen did not take part in the album's promotion, but in his tours of 1979, 1980 and 1985 performed two songs from the album, "Memories" and "Iodine", while he did not include any of the album's songs on his later compilations More Best of Leonard Cohen and The Essential Leonard Cohen.
In 1979, Cohen returned with the more traditional Recent Songs, which blended his acoustic style with jazz and Oriental and Mediterranean influences. The record, praised in 2001 by Cohen as his favourite, embarked the appearance of ensured Cohen - from this album on, he will co-produce every of his song and have the final word over album's sound. Produced by Cohen himself and Henry Lewy (Joni Mitchell's sound engineer) Recent Songs included performances by Austin-based jazz-fusion band Passenger introduced to Cohen by Mitchell and oriental instruments (oud, Gypsy violin and mandolin). The album was supported by Cohen's major tour with the new band, and Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson on the backing vocals, in Europe in late 1979, and again in Australia, Israel and Europe in 1980. The tour was filmed by Harry Rasky as The Song of Leonard Cohen; film was broadcast on television in 1980, while Cohen gave couple of major TV appearances in 1979, including German's ZDF television. In 2000 Columbia released an album of live recordings of songs from the 1979 tour, entitled Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979; the album (with different track list) was originally rejected by the label in 1980. Some of the band members will stay with Cohen in subsequent tours up to 2010.
During 1970s, Cohen toured twice with Jennifer Warnes as a back-up singer (in 1972 and 1979). Warnes would become a fixture on Cohen's future albums, receiving full co-vocals credit on Cohen's 1985 album Various Positions (record was released under Cohen's name, but inside credits say "Vocals by Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes"). In 1987, she recorded an album of Cohen songs, Famous Blue Raincoat.[25]


In early 1980s, Cohen co-wrote the rock musical film Night Magic with Lewis Furey, starring Carole Laure and Nick Mancuso (voice-over by Furey); the LP was released in 1985. At that time, Cohen also worked on an unfinished album of his poetry recitations with producer Henry Lewy, before turning back to John Lissauer. Lissauer produced Cohen's next record Various Positions, which was released in late 1984. The LP included "Dance Me to the End of Love", which was promoted by Cohen's first video clip, directed by French photographer Dominique Issermann, and the frequently covered "Hallelujah".

 Columbia declined to release the album in the United States. Cohen supported the release of the album with his biggest tour to date, in Europe and Australia, and with his first tour in Canada and United States since 1975. Anjani Thomas, who would become Cohen's partner, and a regular member of Cohen's recording team, joined his tourning band. The band performanced at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and the Roskilde Festival. They also gave a series of highly emotional and politically controversial concerts in Poland, which was under the martial law and Cohen's song "The Partisan" regarded as the hymn of Solidarity movement and Lech Wałęsa's favourite Cohen song.[26] During the 80s, almost all Cohen's songs were performed in Polish language by Maciej Zembaty.[27]
In 1986, Cohen appeared in the episode "French Twist" of the TV series Miami Vice. In 1987, Jennifer Warnes's tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat helped restore Cohen's career in the U.S. The following year he released I'm Your Man, which marked a drastic change in his music. Synthesizers ruled the album and Cohen's lyrics included more social commentary and dark humour. The album, self-produced by Cohen, remains one of Cohen's most acclaimed albums, and was promoted by iconic black and white video shot by Dominique Issermann at the beach of Normandy. Cohen supported the record with series of television interviews, and an extensive tour of Europe, Canada and US. Many shows were broadcast on European and US television and radio stations, while Cohen performed for the first time in his career on PBS's Austin City Limits show; he also performed at the Roskilde Festival again, among other dates.[28] The tour gave the basic structure to typical Cohen's concert which he used in his tours in 1993, 2008–09 and 2010. The selection of performances from the late 1980s was released in 1994 on Cohen Live. No performances were released in their entirity, although some were bootlegged. Parts of one of three Royal Albert Hall concerts were used in BBC documentary The Songs from the Life of Leonard Cohen, which was released on laser disc and video tape.


The use of the album track "Everybody Knows" (co-written by Sharon Robinson) in the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume helped expose Cohen's music to a younger audience. The song also featured prominently in fellow Canadian Atom Egoyan's 1994 film, Exotica.

 In 1992, Cohen released The Future, which urges (often in terms of biblical prophecy) perseverance, reformation, and hope in the face of grim prospects. Three tracks from the album - "Waiting for the Miracle", "The Future" and "Anthem" - were featured in the movie Natural Born Killers, which helped Cohen to reach new US audience.
As with I'm Your Man, the lyrics on the The Future were dark, and made references to political and social unrest. The title track is reportedly a response to the L.A. unrest of 1992. Cohen promoted the album with two music videos, for "Closing Time" and "The Future", and supported the release with the major tour through Europe, United States and Canada, with the same band as in his 1988 tour, including a second appearance at the PBS's Austin City Limits. Some of the Scandinavian shows were broadcast live on the radio. The selection of performances, mostly recorded on the Canadian leg of the tour, was released on 1994 Cohen Live album, but none of new songs from the album itself was included in the live album.
In 1993, Cohen also published his book of selected poems and songs, Stranger Music, on which he had worked since 1989; it includes a number of new poems from the late 1980s and early 90s.
In 1997, Cohen oversaw the selection and release of More Best of Leonard Cohen album, which included a previously unreleased track, "Never Any Good", and an experimental piece "The Great Event". The first was left-over from Cohen's unfinished mid-90s album, which was announced to include songs like "In My Secret Life" (already recited as song-in-progress in 1988) and "A Thousand Kisses Deep",[29] both later re-worked with Sharon Robinson for 2001 album Ten New Songs.
In 1994, Cohen retreated to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles, beginning what became five years of seclusion at the center.[25] In 1996, Cohen was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk and took the Dharma name Jikan, meaning "silence". He served as personal assistant to Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi. Japanese songwriter and poet Masato Tomobe stated he admires Cohen and this made him better recognized in Japan around this time.
Although around 2000 there was a public impression that Cohen would not resume recording or publishing, he returned to Los Angeles in May 1999. He began to contribute regularly to The Leonard Cohen Files fan website, emailing new poems and drawings from Book of Longing and early versions of new songs, like "A Thousand Kisses Deep" in September 1998[30] and Anjani Thomas's story sent on May 6, 1999, the day they were recording "Villanelle for our Time"[31] (released on 2004 Dear Heather album). The section of The Leonard Cohen Files with Cohen's online writings has been titled "The Blackening Pages".[32]


Post-monastery records: Ten New Songs, Dear Heather and Anjani's Blue Alert

In 2001, Cohen returned to music with Ten New Songs, featuring a heavy influence from producer and co-composer Sharon Robinson. The album includes the song "Alexandra Leaving", a transformation of the poem "The God Abandons Antony", by the Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy. The album was major hit for Cohen in Canada and Europe, and he supported it with hit single "In My Secret Life" and accompanying video shot by Floria Sigismondi.
In October 2004, Cohen released Dear Heather, largely a musical collaboration with jazz chanteuse (and current romantic partner) Anjani Thomas, although Sharon Robinson returned to collaborate on three tracks (including a duet). As light as the previous album was dark, Dear Heather reflects Cohen's own change of mood - he has said in a number of interviews that his depression has lifted in recent years, which he attributed to Zen Buddhism. In an interview following his induction into the Canadian Songwriters' Hall of Fame, Cohen explained that the album was intended to be a kind of notebook or scrapbook of themes, and that a more formal record had been planned for release shortly afterwards, but that this was put on ice by his legal battles with his ex-manager. He decided not to promote the album at all, but in 2005 he released a home video accompanying the song "Because Of", shot by his daughter Lorca Cohen, while there was no official album singles.
Blue Alert, an album of songs co-written by Anjani and Cohen, was released on 23 May 2006 to positive reviews. Sung by Anjani, who according to one reviewer "...sounds like Cohen reincarnated as woman...though Cohen doesn't sing a note on the album, his voice permeates it like smoke."[33] The album include a recent musical setting of Cohen's "As the mist leaves no scar", a poem originally published in The Spice-Box of Earth in 1961 and adapted by Phil Spector as "True Love Leaves No Traces" on Death of a Ladies' Man album. Blue Alert also included Anjani's own version of "Nightingale", performed by her and Cohen on his Dear Heather, as well the country song "Never Got to Love You", apparently made after early demo version of Cohen's own 1992 song "Closing Time". In his 2010 shows, Cohen closed the performances with performances of "Closing Time" which included the recitation of verses from "Never Got to Love You". The title song, "Blue Alert", and "Half the Perfect World" were covered by Madeleine Peyroux on her 2006 album Half the Perfect World, while the third covered song, "Crazy To Love You", was included in album's Japanese edition.
Before embarking on his 2008-2010 world tour, and without finishing the new album which has been in work since 2006 (new song, "The Street", was recited by Cohen in 2006 on KCRW radio, and he also played two new songs from demo tape, "Book of Longing" and "Puppets"[34]), Cohen contributed few tracks to other artists' albums - new version of his own "Tower of Song" was performed by him, Anjani Thomas and U2 in 2006 tribute film Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man (the video and track were included on the film's soundtrack and released as B-side of U2's single "Window in the Skies", reaching No 1 in Canadian Singles Chart), in 2007 he recited "The Sound of Silence" on album Tribute to Paul Simon: Take Me to the Mardi Gras and "The Jungle Line" by Joni Mitchell, accompanied by Herbie Hancock on piano, on Hancock's Grammy-winning album River: The Joni Letters, while in 2008 he recited the poem "Since You've Asked" on album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins.

2005 bankruptcy

Kelly Lynch and Leonard Cohen
On 8 October 2005, Cohen alleged that his longtime former manager, Kelley Lynch, misappropriated over US $5 million from Cohen's retirement fund leaving only $150,000.[35] Cohen was sued in turn by other former business associates.[35] These events placed him in the public spotlight, including a cover feature on him with the headline "Devastated!" in Canada's Maclean's magazine.[36] In March 2006, Cohen won the civil suit and was awarded US $9 million by a Los Angeles County superior court. Lynch, however, ignored the suit and did not respond to a subpoena issued for her financial records.[37] As a result it has been widely reported that Cohen may never be able to collect the awarded amount.[38] In 2007, U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock dismissed a claim by Cohen for more than US $4.5 million against Colorado investment firm Agile Group, and in 2008 he dismissed a defamation suit that Agile Group filed against Cohen.[39] Cohen has been under new management since April 2005.

Book of Longing

Cohen's book of poetry and drawings, Book of Longing, was published in May 2006; in March a Toronto-based retailer offered signed copies to the first 1500 orders placed online. All 1500 sold within hours. The book quickly topped bestseller lists in Canada. On 13 May 2006, Cohen made his first public appearance in thirteen years, at an in-store event at a bookstore in Toronto. Approximately 3000 people turned up for the event, causing the streets surrounding the bookstore to be closed. He sang two of his earliest and best-known songs: "So Long, Marianne" and "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye", accompanied by the Barenaked Ladies and Ron Sexsmith. Also appearing with him was Anjani, the two promoting her new CD, along with his book.[40]
In 2006, Philip Glass composed music to Cohen's 2006 book of poetry Book of Longing. Following the series of live performances which included Glass on keyboards, Cohen's recorded spoken text, four voices (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and bass-baritone), and other instruments, and as well the screenings of Cohen's artworks and drawings, Glass' label Orange Mountain Music released double CD with the recording of the work, entitled Book of Longing. A Song Cycle based on the Poetry and Artwork of Leonard Cohen.[41]

2008-2010 World Tour

2008 tour

13 January 2008, Cohen quietly announced a long-anticipated concert tour.[42] The tour, Cohen's first in 15 years, began 11 May in Fredericton, NB to wide critical acclaim, and was prolonged until Winter of 2010.[43] The schedule of first leg in Summer of 2008 encompassed Canada and Europe, including performances at The Big Chill,[44] the Montreal Jazz Festival, and on the Pyramid Stage at the 2008 Glastonbury Festival on 29 June 2008.[45] His performance at Glastonbury was hailed by many as the highlight of the festival,[46] and his performance of "Hallelujah" as the sun went down received a rapturous reception and a lengthy ovation from a packed Pyramid Stage field.[47] He also played two shows in London's O2 Arena, and in Dublin he gave a "milestone concert", while in Dublin he was the first performer to play an open air concert at IMMA (Royal Hospital Kilmainham) ground, performing there on June 13, 14, and 15 2008. In 2009, the performances were awarded with Ireland's Meteor Music Award as the best international performance of the year.
In September, October and November 2008, Cohen gave a marathon tour through Europe, including stops in Austria, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Italy, Germany, and Scandinavia. In London, he played two more shows in O2 Arena and two additional shows at the Royal Albert Hall.

Live in London

On 21 March 2009, Cohen released Live in London, recorded on 17 July 2008 at London's O2 Arena and released on DVD and as a two-CD set. The album contains 25 songs and is over two-and-a-half hours long. It was the first official DVD in Cohen's recording career. The quotation on the album referred to one hundred five-star reviews the tour gained in the international press in 2008.

2009 tour

The third leg of Cohen's World Tour 2008-2009 encompassed New Zealand and Australia from 20 January to 10 February 2009.[48] In January 2009, The Pacific Tour first came to New Zealand. Simon Sweetman in The Dominion Post (Wellington) of 21 January wrote "It is hard work having to put this concert in to words so I'll just say something I have never said in a review before and will never say again: this was the best show I have ever seen." The Sydney Entertainment Centre show on 28 January sold out rapidly, which motivated promoters to announce a second show at the venue. The first performance was well-received, and the audience of 12,000 responded with five standing ovations. In response to hearing about the devastation to the Yarra Valley region of Victoria in Australia, Cohen donated $200,000 to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal in support of those affected by the extensive Black Saturday bushfires that razed the area just weeks after his performance at the Rochford Winery in the A Day on the Green concert.[49] Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper reported: "Tour promoter Frontier Touring said $200,000 would be donated on behalf of Cohen, fellow performer Paul Kelly and Frontier to aid victims of the bushfires."[50]
On 19 February 2009, Cohen played his first American concert in fifteen years at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.[51] The show, showcased as the special performance for fans, Leonard Cohen Forum members and press, was the only show in the whole three-year tour which was broadcast on the radio (NPR) and available as the free podcast.
The North American Tour of 2009 opened on 1 April and included the performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday, 17 April 2009, in front of one of the largest outdoor theatre crowds in the history of the festival. His performance of Hallelujah was widely regarded as one of the highlights of the festival, thus repeating the major success of the 2008 Glastonbury appearance. The performance has been included on 2010 Songs from the Road live release. During this leg, Cohen regularly performed new song, "Lullaby".
On 1 July 2009, Cohen started his marathon European tour, his third in two years. The itinerary mostly included sport arenas and open air Summer festivals in Germany, UK, France, Spain, Ireland (the show at O2 in Dublin won him the second Meteor Music Award in a row), but also performances in Serbia in the Belgrade Arena, in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, and again in Romania. On 3 August, Cohen gave an open air show at the Piazza San Marco in Venice.
On 18 September 2009, on the stage at a concert in Valencia, Spain, Cohen suddenly fainted halfway through performing his song "Bird on the Wire", the fourth in the two-act set list; Cohen was brought down backstage by his band members and then admitted to local hospital, while the concert was suspended.[52] It was reported that Cohen had stomach problems, and possibly food poisoning.[53] Three days later, on September 21, on his 75th birthday, he performed in Barcelona. The show, last in Europe in 2009 and rumoured to be the last European concert ever, attracted many international fans, who lighted the green candles honouring Cohen's birthday, leading Cohen to give a special speech of thanks for the fans and Leonard Cohen Forum.
The most controversial concert during the whole tour was the last concert of this leg, held in Tel Aviv, Israel, on September 24, three days after Cohen's 75th birthday, at Ramat Gan Stadium. The event was surrounded by public discussion due to a cultural boycott of Israel proposed by a small number of musicians.[54] Nevertheless, tickets for the Tel Aviv concert, Cohen's first performance in Israel since 1980, sold out in less than 24 hours.[55] It was announced that the proceeds from the sale of the 47,000 tickets would go into a charitable fund in partnership with Amnesty International and would be used by Israeli and Palestinian peace groups for projects providing health services to children and bringing together Israeli veterans and former Palestinian fighters and the families of those killed in the conflict.[56] However, on 17 August 2009, Amnesty International released a statement saying they were withdrawing from any involvement with the concert and its proceeds.[57] Amnesty International later stated that its withdrawal was not due to the boycott but "the lack of support from Israeli and Palestinian NGOs."[58] The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a fringe political group, led the call for the boycott, claiming that Cohen was "intent on whitewashing Israel's colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel."[59] On 24 September at the Ramat Gan concert, Cohen was highly emotional about the Israeli-Palestinian NGO Bereaved Families for Peace. He mentioned the organization twice, saying "It was a while ago that I first heard of the work of the 'Bereaved Parents for Peace'. That there was this coalition of Palestinian and Israeli families who had lost so much in the conflict and whose depth of suffering had compelled them to reach across the border into the houses of the enemy. Into the houses of those, to locate them who had suffered as much as they had, and then to stand with them in aching confraternity, a witness to an understanding that is beyond peace and that is beyond confrontation. So, this is not about forgiving and forgetting, this is not about laying down one's arms in a time of war, this is not even about peace, although, God willing, it could be a beginning. This is about a response to human grief. A radical, unique and holy, holy, holy response to human suffering. Baruch Hashem, thank God, I bow my head in respect to the nobility of this enterprise."[60] At the end of the show he blessed the crowd by the Priestly Blessing, a Jewish blessing offered by Kohanim. Cohen's surname derives from this Hebrew word for priest, thus identifying him as a Levite — a descendant of the ancient priestly tribe of Levi.[61]
The sixth leg of the 2008-2009 world tour went again to US, with fifteen shows in October and November, with the "final" show in San Jose. The final leg included two new songs, "Feels So Good" and "The Darkness". But at that point, Cohen's "World Tour 2010" was already announced with the European dates in March.
The 2009 world tour earned a reported $9.5 million, putting Cohen at number 39 on Billboard magazine's list of the year's top musical "money makers."[62]

Live releases

On 14 September 2010, Sony Music released a live CD/DVD album, Songs from the Road, showcasing Cohen's 2008 and 2009 live performances. The previous year, Cohen's performance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Music Festival was released as a CD/DVD combo. The DVD version included interviews with Kris Kristofferson and others.

2010 tour

Cohen's 2008-2009 world tour was prolonged into 2010. Originally scheduled to start in March, the first dozen of the original European dates were postponed to September and October due to Cohen's lower-back injury.[63] Officially billed as the "World Tour 2010", the tour started on 25 July 2010 in Arena Zagreb, Croatia, where in the week of the show 16 of Cohen's albums simultaneously entered the Croatian Top 40,[64] while Cohen's work was presented by the translation of Book of Mercy, two of Cohen's biographies, and with selection of poems in major literary magazine Quorum, while there was also the translation of Linda Hutcheon's work on Cohen's literary output. In December 2010, the national daily newspaper Vjesnik ranked Cohen's show among the five most important cultural event in Croatia in 2010, in the poll among dozen of intellectuals and writers; it was the only event ranked which was not actually Croatian.[65] The tour continued through August, with stops in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia, and Ireland, where on 31 July 2010 Cohen performed at Lissadell House in County Sligo. It was Cohen’s eighth Irish concert in just two years after a hiatus of more than 20 years.[66] On 12 August, Cohen played the 200th show of the tour in Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden, where he had already played in October 2008; the show was four hours long.
The Fall leg of the European tour started in early September with an open-air show in Florence, Italy, and continued through Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and Austria, where Cohen performed at the famous open-air opera stage of Römersteinbruch bei St. Margarethen im Burgenland, and then continued with dates in France, Poland, Russia (Moscow's State Kremlin Palace), Slovenia and Slovakia.[67] In Slovenia's brand new Arena Stožice, Cohen accepted Croatia's Porin music award for best foreign live video programme, which he won for his Live in London DVD.[68] Cohen's last European show was held in Sibamac Arena, in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The third leg of the 2010 tour started on 28 October in New Zealand and continued in Australia, including an open-air concert at Hanging Rock near Melbourne. It was the first show ever organised at the site. The tour finished with seven special dates added in Vancouver, Portland, Victoria and Oakland, with two final shows in Las Vegas' The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on 10 and 11 December. The very last concert on 11 December was the 246th show on the world tour which started on 11 May 2008.
The world tour 2010 was covered daily on the Flickr photo blog which was edited by Cohen's road manager, entitled Notes from the Road].


Currently Cohen is recording a new studio album with his touring band and his producer Ed Sanders.[69] The album is expected in 2011 and is supposed to feature four songs performed during the 2009 and 2010 shows, "The Darkness", "Lullaby", "Born in Chains" , and "Feels So Good", and also "Amen" and "The Street", some of them co-written (and co-produced) with Sharon Robinson and also with Anjani Thomas.[70] At least one more song has been tried out at the daily soundchecks ("My Oh My"). The first new songs were presented back in 2006, on KCRW radio, where Cohen played two demo tracks, "Book of Longing" and "Puppets".[34]


In 1991, John Cale's cover of this song first appeared on the Leonard Cohen tribute album I'm Your Fan. In 1996, that version also appeared in the independent film Basquiat. John Cale also performed this song in the 2001 Dreamworks movie Shrek. The cover when watching the actual movie was by John Cale, but the original soundtrack for the movie had a Rufus Wainwright version. John Cale's version was also featured on the television series Scrubs.
In 2004, fellow Canadian k.d. lang released the album Hymns of the 49th Parallel which featured Leonard's song Hallelujah. The critically acclaimed album rose to the number 2 position on the Canadian Albums Chart. She subsequently performed the song live, on 12 February 2010, at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.
Jeff Buckley recorded one of the best-known versions of "Hallelujah" for his debut album Grace in 1994, to critical acclaim. It was used during the final minutes of The West Wing episode "Posse Comitatus," the last episode of season 3. On 7 March 2008, Jeff Buckley's version of Cohen's "Hallelujah", went to number 1 on the iTunes chart after Jason Castro performed the song on the seventh season of the television series American Idol.[71] Another major boost for Cohen's song exposure came when singer-songwriter Kate Voegele released her version of "Hallelujah" from her 2007 album Don't Look Away and appeared as a regular character named Mia on season five of the teenage television show One Tree Hill.
In December 2008, two versions of "Hallelujah" placed No. 1 and 2 in the UK Christmas singles chart, with X Factor winner Alexandra Burke at No. 1 and Jeff Buckley at No. 2, following a campaign by Buckley fans to get his version to no. 1 rather than the X Factor version. As a result, online downloads of Cohen's original version placed it at No. 36, 24 years after its initial release.


Recurring themes in Cohen's work include love, sex, religion, depression, and music itself. He has also engaged with certain political themes, though sometimes ambiguously so. "Suzanne" mixes a wistful type of love song with a religious meditation, themes that are also mixed in "Joan of Arc". "Famous Blue Raincoat" is from the point of view of a man whose marriage has been broken by his wife's infidelity with his close friend, and is written in the form of a letter to that friend. "Everybody Knows" starts off with social inequality ("the poor stay poor/ And the rich get rich"), but this is just the laying of the foundation that leads up to the real issue: Infidelity and betrayal.
"Sisters of Mercy" [72] depicts his encounter with two women in a hotel room in Edmonton, Canada. Claims that "Chelsea Hotel #2" treats his affair with Janis Joplin without sentimentality are countered by claims that the song reveals a more complicated set of feelings than straightforward love. Cohen [73] confirmed, with some embarrassment, that the subject is Janis. "She wouldn't mind," he declares, "but my mother would be appalled." "Don't Go Home with Your Hard-On" also deals with sexual themes.
Cohen is Jewish, and he has drawn from Jewish religious and cultural imagry throughout his career. Examples include "Story of Isaac", and "Who by Fire", the words and melody of which echo the Unetaneh Tokef, an 11th-century liturgical poem recited on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Broader Jewish themes sound throughout the album Various Positions. "Hallelujah," which has music as a secondary theme, begins by evoking the biblical King David composing a song that "pleased the Lord" and continues with references to Bathsheba and Samson. The lyrics of "Whither Thou Goest", performed by him and released in his album Live in London, are adapted from the Bible (Ruth 1:16-17, King James Version). "If It Be Your Will" also has a strong air of religious resignation. In his concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, on 24 September 2009, Cohen spoke Jewish prayers and blessings to the audience in Hebrew. He opened the show with the first sentence of Ma Tovu. At the middle he used Baruch Hashem, and he ended the concert reciting the blessing of Birkat Cohanim.[74]
In his early career as a novelist, Beautiful Losers grappled with the mysticism of the Mohawk Catholic saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Cohen has also been involved with Buddhism since the 1970s and was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1996; however he is still religiously Jewish: "I'm not looking for a new religion. I'm quite happy with the old one, with Judaism."[75]
He is described as an observant Jew in an article in The New York Times:
Mr. Cohen is an observant Jew who keeps the Sabbath even while on tour and performed for Israeli troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. So how does he square that faith with his continued practice of Zen?
"Allen Ginsberg asked me the same question many years ago," he said. "Well, for one thing, in the tradition of Zen that I've practiced, there is no prayerful worship and there is no affirmation of a deity. So theologically there is no challenge to any Jewish belief."[76]
Having suffered from depression during much of his life (although less so recently), Cohen has written much (especially in his early work) about depression and suicide. "Beautiful Losers" and "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy" are about suicide; darkly comic "One of Us Cannot Be Wrong" mentions suicide; "Dress Rehearsal Rag" is about a last-minute decision not to commit suicide. An atmosphere of depression pervades "Please Don't Pass Me By" and "Tonight Will Be Fine." As in the aforementioned "Hallelujah," music itself is the subject of "Tower of Song," "A Singer Must Die," and "Jazz Police."
Themes of political and social justice also recur in Cohen's work, especially in later albums. In "Democracy," he laments "the wars against disorder/ the sirens night and day/ the fires of the homeless/ the ashes of the gay." He concludes that the United States is actually not a democracy. He has made the observation in "Tower of Song" that "the rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor/ And there's a mighty judgment coming." In the title track of The Future he recasts this prophecy on a pacifist note: "I've seen the nations rise and fall/ …/ But love's the only engine of survival." In "Anthem", he promises that "the killers in high places [who] say their prayers out loud/ [are] gonna hear from me."
War is an enduring theme of Cohen's work that—in his earlier songs and early life—he approached ambivalently. Challenged in 1974 over his serious demeanor in concerts and the military salutes he ended them with, Cohen remarked, "I sing serious songs, and I'm serious onstage because I couldn't do it any other way...I don't consider myself a civilian. I consider myself a soldier, and that's the way soldiers salute."[77] In "Field Commander Cohen" he imagines himself as a soldier of sorts, socializing with Fidel Castro in Cuba—where he had actually lived at the height of US-Cuba tensions in 1961, allegedly sporting a Che Guevara-style beard and military fatigues. This song was written immediately following Cohen's front-line stint with the Israeli air force, the "fighting in Egypt" documented in a passage of "Night Comes On." In 1973, Cohen, who had traveled to Jerusalem to sign up on the Israeli side in the Yom Kippur War, had instead been assigned to a USO-style entertainer tour of front-line tank emplacements in the Sinai Desert, coming under fire. A poetic mention of then-General Ariel Sharon, delivered in the same mode as his Fidel Castro allusions, has given birth to the story that Cohen and Sharon shared cognac together during Cohen's term in the Sinai.
Deeply moved by encounters with Israeli and Arab soldiers, he left the country to write "Lover Lover Lover." This song has been interpreted as a personal renunciation of armed conflict, and ends with the hope his song will serve a listener as "a shield against the enemy." He would later remark, "'Lover, Lover, Lover' was born over there; the whole world has its eyes riveted on this tragic and complex conflict. Then again, I am faithful to certain ideas, inevitably. I hope that those of which I am in favour will gain."[78] Asked which side he supported in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Cohen responded, "I don't want to speak of wars or sides ... Personal process is one thing, it's blood, it's the identification one feels with their roots and their origins. The militarism I practice as a person and a writer is another thing.... I don't wish to speak about war."[79]
His recent politics continue a lifelong predilection for the underdog, the "beautiful loser." Whether recording "The Partisan", a French Resistance song by Anna Marly and Emmanuel d'Astier, or singing his own "The Old Revolution," written from the point of view of a defeated royalist, he has throughout his career expressed in his music sympathy and support for the oppressed. Although Cohen's fascination with war is often as a metaphor for more general cultural and personal issues, as in "New Skin for the Old Ceremony," by this measure his most militant album.
Cohen blends pessimism about political/cultural issues with humour and, especially in his later work, with gentle acceptance. His wit contends with his stark analysis as his songs are often verbally playful and cheerful. In "Tower of Song" the famously raw-voiced Cohen sings ironically that he was "born with the gift of a golden voice." The generally dark "Is This What You Wanted?" contains playful lines "You were the whore and the beast of Babylon/ I was Rin Tin Tin." In concert he often plays around with his lyrics ("If you want a doctor/ I'll examine every inch of you" from "I'm Your Man" sometimes becomes "If you want a Jewish doctor..."). He may introduce one song by using a phrase from another song or poem—for example, introducing "Leaving Green Sleeves" by paraphrasing his own "Queen Victoria," "This is a song for those who are not nourished by modern love."
Cohen has also recorded such love songs as Irving Berlin's "Always" or the more obscure soul number "Be for Real" (originally sung by Marlena Shaw).

Personal life

Suzanne Elrod with kids Adam and Lorca
Cohen had a relationship with the Los Angeles artist Suzanne Elrod beginning in the 1970s, with whom he has two children: a son, Adam, born in 1972, and a daughter, Lorca, named after poet Federico García Lorca, born in 1974. Adam Cohen began a career as a singer-songwriter in the mid-1990s and fronts a band called Low Millions, while Lorca took the part Cohen's video for the song "Because Of" in 2004, while her "Backstage Sketch" was included on Cohen's 2010 DVD Songs from the Road. She has directed and shot video clips for The Webb Sisters and Kamila Thin her father's tour team during the 2008-2010 world tour as photographer and videographer. She also shot Compson. On February 2, 2011, Lorca gave birth to a daughter, Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen. The father of the child is Rufus Wainwright.[80]
Cohen has downplayed marriage as an important relationship, and has said that "cowardice" and "fear" have prevented him from ever actually marrying Elrod.[81][82] Elrod took the cover photograph on Cohen's Live Songs album and is pictured on the cover of the Death of a Ladies' Man album. She is also the "Dark Lady" of Cohen's 1978 book of poems, prose and diary entries Death of a Lady's Man, the book which deals with the failed marriage (hence the cover, which shows medieval coniunctio spiritual) and which was started as the novel about the spiritual and emotional failure of marriage, invariantly titled The Woman Being Born, and My Life in Art. Cohen and Elrod had split by 1979.
"Suzanne", one of his best-known songs, refers to Suzanne Verdal, the former wife of his friend, the Québécois sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, rather than Elrod.[83] The 1979 song "The Gypsy Wife" is supposedly about Suzanne Elrod.
Dominique Issermann and Leonard Cohen
In the 1980s, Cohen was in a relationship with the French photographer Dominique Issermann, who shot his first two video clips, "Dance Me To The End Of Love" and "First We Take Manhattan." Issermann is today famous for her photo sessions with Carla Bruni[84] and for her fashion photography for magazines like Elle; in 2010 she was the official photographer of Cohen's world tour. Her photographs of Cohen are the canonical in Cohen's merchandise, and some of them were used for the covers of his 1993 book Stranger Music and his album More Best of Leonard Cohen, and inside the booklet of Cohen's 1988 record I'm Your Man, which is dedicated to Issermann with words: "All these songs are for you, D. I.".[85]
Rebecca De Mornay
In the 1990s, Cohen was romantically linked to actress Rebecca De Mornay.[86] De Mornay co-produced Cohen's 1992 album The Future, which is also supposedly dedicated to her with an inscription which quotes Rebecca's coming to the well from Book of Genesis, 24[87] and giving drink to Eliezer's camels, after he prayed for the help; Eliezer ("God is my help" in Hebrew) is Cohen's Hebrew name, and Cohen sometimes referred to himself as "Eliezer Cohen" or even "Jikan Eliezer."[88]
In 2000s, Cohen has been romantically involved with Anjani Thomas. Together they wrote the album Blue Alert in 2006, produced by Cohen. Thomas co-produced and co-wrote some songs on Cohen's 2004 album Dear Heather and is currently involved in recording of Cohen's forthcoming record.
Since late 1970s, Cohen has been associated with Kyozan Joshu Sasaki, regularly visiting him at Mount Baldy Zen Center and serving him as personal assistant during Cohen's own reclusion into Mt. Baldy monastery in the 1990s. Roshi appears as regular motif or addressee in Cohen's poetry, especially in the Book of Longing, and also took part in 1997 documentary about Cohen's monastery years, Leonard Cohen: Spring 1996. Cohen's 2001 album Ten New Songs is dedicated to Joshu Sasaki.

Awards, titles and honours

  • 1964 the Québec Literary Competition Prize (awarded 1923-70 by the Province of Québec) The Favourite Game (Cohen's first novel)
  • 1968 Governor General's Award (English language poetry or drama) for Selected Poems 1956–1968. (Refused)
  • 1970 Honorary degree from Dalhousie University
  • 1984 The Golden Rose, the main award at the international television festival Rose d'Or in Montreux, for I am a Hotel, made-for-TV short musical film written by Cohen and based on his songs.
  • 1985 Canadian Author's Association Literary Award for Poetry for Book of Mercy
  • 1986 Genie Award for Best Original Song for "Angel Eyes" from Night Magic (with Lewis Furey)
  • 1988 Columbia Records Crystal Globe Award from CBS for I'm Your Man. The award is for artists who sell more than five million copies of an album in foreign territories
  • 1989 Nominated for Juno Awards for Canadian Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year
  • 1991 Officer of the Order of Canada
  • 1991 Induction into the Juno/Canadian Music Hall of Fame
  • 1991 Nominated for a Juno Award for Songwriter of the Year.
  • 1992 Honorary degree from McGill University, Montreal.
  • 1993 Juno Award for Male Vocalist of the Year. The video for Closing Time, directed by Curtis Wehrfritz, won for Best Video. He was also nominated as Producer of the Year (with co-producer Leanne Ungar, for "Closing Time").
  • 1993 Governor General's Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.
  • 1994 Juno Award for Songwriter of the Year and was nominated for the Juno Award for Album of the Year (for The Future). The video for The Future, directed by Curtis Wehrfritz, was nominated for Juno Award for Best Video.

Studio albums

Title Release date
Songs of Leonard Cohen 27 December 1967
Songs from a Room April 1969
Songs of Love and Hate March 1971
New Skin for the Old Ceremony August 1974
Death of a Ladies' Man November 1977
Recent Songs September 1979
Various Positions December 1984
I'm Your Man February 1988
The Future 24 November 1992
Ten New Songs 9 October 2001
Dear Heather 26 October 2004

[edit] Poetry

  • Six Montreal Poets. New York: Folkways Records, 1957. [97]

[edit] Tribute albums

Title Release date
I'm Your Fan 1991
Tower of Song 1995
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man 2006
Monsieur Camembert presentz Famous Blue Cheese 2008
Cohen - The Scandinavian Report 2009
Many other cover albums have been recorded by many artists.[98]


Collections: poems and songs

  • Let Us Compare Mythologies. Montreal: Contact Press [McGill Poetry Series], 1956.[99] reissued 2007
  • The Spice-Box of Earth. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1961.[99]
  • Flowers for Hitler. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1964.[99]
  • Parasites of Heaven. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1966.[99]
  • Selected Poems 1956–1968. New York, Toronto: Viking, McClelland & Stewart, 1968.[99]
  • The Energy of Slaves. London,Toronto: Cape, McClelland and Stewart, 1972. ISBN 0771022042 ISBN 0771022034 New York: Viking, 1973.[99]
  • Selected Poetry of Leonard Cohen. Penguin Classics, 1978.[99]
  • Death of a Lady's Man. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1978. ISBN 0771021771 London, New York: Viking, Penguin, 1979.[99] - reissued 2010
  • Book of Mercy.London: Cape, 1984.[99] - reissued 2010
  • The Lyrics of Leonard Cohen. London, Omnibus, 1998.[99] ISBN 0711971412 2nd edition, 2009.
  • God is Alive. Magic is Afoot. Sarah Perkins and Ian Jackson illus. Toronto: Stoddart, 2000.[99] ISBN 0773761802
  • Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs. London, New York, Toronto: Cape, Pantheon, McClelland & Stewart, 2003.[99] ISBN 0771022301
  • Book of Longing. London, New York, Toronto: Penguin, Ecco, McClelland & Stewart, 2006.[99] (poetry, prose, drawings) ISBN 9780771022340
  • Poems and Songs (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets) 2011


Film and television

  • Cohen was the subject of the 1965 documentary Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen, directed by Donald Brittain and Don Owen and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. This film, which pre-dates Cohen's career as a songwriter, explores his career as a well-known Canadian poet.[100] Cohen also appeared in Owen's 1967 film The Ernie Game, which was entered into the 18th Berlin International Film Festival.[101]
  • Cohen's music also appeared the following year in the 1966 NFB animated short Angel.
  • In 1968 Cohen performed on the BBC, both on the Julie Felix Show and in his own special, split into two thirty minute shows. The first clip still exists, while the second is only available as a bootleg CD.[102]
  • Cohen makes a cameo appearance performing "The Stranger Song" in the Canadian film The Ernie Game (1968), which is based on the stories of Bernard Cole Spencer.
  • Cohen's 1970 performance at the Isle of Wight Festival was filmed by Murray Lerner, but remained unreleased until 2009 when it was released as Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970, and included Lerner's 2009 documentary material.
  • Robert Altman's 1971 western McCabe and Mrs. Miller used three Cohen songs on its soundtrack, as well the instrumental parts of The Stranger Song performed by Cohen. Multiple record singles were released during the film's distribution.[103]
  • In 1972, Cohen's European tour was filmed by British director Tony Palmer; the re-edited material appeared in 1974 under the title Bird On a Wire and exists only as a bootleg VHS tape. Palmer's authorised and restored film was released in 2010.[104]
  • In October 1979, Cohen recorded a show for German TV show RockPop Special, available only as a bootleg. The show is often rebroadcast by the German satellite TV channel 3Sat.[105]
  • The Song Of Leonard Cohen, a 1980 documentary by Harry Rasky, featuring Irving Layton, includes highlights from Cohen's 1979 European tour and tracks from the LP Recent Songs.
  • In 1983, Cohen wrote and starred in made-for-TV short musical film I am a Hotel, based on his songs. It won the Golden Rose award at the Rose d'Or television festival in Montreux in 1984.
  • In 1985, Cohen co-wrote and co-composed Night Magic (starring Carole Laure) with fellow Quebecker, Lewis Furey.
  • Cohen is subject of the BBC documentary Songs from the Life of Leonard Cohen, filmed during his 1988 tour.[106]
  • Cohen appeared as villain Francois Zolan in the "French Twist" episode of the American television series Miami Vice (season 2, episode 17), originally broadcast on 21 February 1986.
  • In 1988, Spanish TV station RTE televised the full version of Cohen's show in San Sebastian, 20 May, later aired in number of European countries and still rerun on the Spanish TV. It remains the only completely televised Cohen show.
  • In 1989, Cohen gave his first major performance on US television on Austin City Limits[107] (recorded in November 1988). He performed for the show again in July 1993. Both programs have been often rebroadcast by the PBS.
  • "Everybody Knows" and "If It Be Your Will" play prominent parts in the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume
  • Three of Cohen's songs from his album The Future ("Waiting for the Miracle", "Anthem", and "The Future") are used in Oliver Stone's 1994 film Natural Born Killers. Songs from this album have also appeared in the films Wonder Boys (2000), starring Michael Douglas and The Life of David Gale (2003), starring Kevin Spacey.
  • In 1994, Cohen narrated NFB-produced documentary The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
  • Cohen's years at the Mt. Baldy Zen Centre were the subject of 1997 French documentary Leonard Cohen: Spring 96 by Armelle Brusq, released on DVD in 2009.
  • In 2001, Cohen's song Hallelujah was used on the soundtrack of Shrek, in a version by John Cale.
  • The Favourite Game (Le Jeu de l'ange), based on his novel of the same title, was released in Canada in 2003.
  • Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man was released in 2006. It features a 2005 tribute concert to Cohen, "Came So Far For Beauty", held at the Sydney Opera House and produced by Hal Willner. The film, directed by Lian Lunson, has appearances by Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, and a performance of "Tower of Song" by Cohen and U2. The film also features Cohen recalling significant parts of his life and career.
  • Cohen is the subject of a two-part documentary, Leonard Cohen: Under Review 1934-1977 (2007) and Leonard Cohen: Under Review 1978-2006 (2008), available separately on DVD.


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