Leonard Cohen was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about him!
1.His full name is Leonard Norman Cohen
2. He was born 21 September 1934 in Westmount, Quebec, an English-speaking area of Montreal, into a middle-class Jewish family.
3. His mother, Marsha (Masha) Klonitsky,was the daughter of a Talmudic writer, Rabbi Solomon Klonitsky-Kline, of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry.
4. His paternal grandfather, whose family had emigrated from Poland, was Lyon Cohen, founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress.
5. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial clothing store, died when Cohen was 9 years old.
6. Leonard Cohen attended Roslyn Elementary School and Herzliah High School, where his literary mentor Irving Layton was a teacher , and, from 1948, Westmount High School, where he was involved with the student council and studied music and poetry.
7. He became especially interested in the poetry of Federico García Lorca. As a teenager, he learned to play the guitar and formed a country–folk group called The Buckskin Boys. Although he initially played a regular acoustic guitar, he soon switched to playing a classical guitar after meeting a young Spanish flamenco guitar player who taught him “a few chords and some flamenco.”
8. Leonard Cohen frequented Saint Laurent Boulevard, where he went for fun, and ate at places such as the Main Deli Steak House. According to journalist David Sax, the Main Deli was where Cohen and one of his cousins would go to “watch the gangsters, pimps, and wrestlers dance around the night.”
9. Leonard Cohen also enjoyed visiting the previously raucous bars of Old Montreal as well as Saint Joseph’s Oratory, which had the closest restaurant near Westmount where he and his friend Mort Rosengarten could go for coffee and a smoke.
10. After moving out of Westmount, Cohen purchased a place in the previous working-class neighbourhood of Montreal’s Little Portugal on Saint-Laurent Boulevard where he read his poetry at various surrounding clubs. It is also during his time there in the small neighbourhood that he wrote the lyrics to what would become some of his most famous songs.
11. In 1951 Cohen enrolled at McGill University, where he became president of the McGill Debating Union and won the Chester MacNaghten Literary Competition for the poems “Sparrows” and “Thoughts of a Landsman”.
12. Leonard Cohen published his first poems in March 1954 in the magazine CIV/n. The issue also included poems by Cohen’s poet–professors (who were also on the editorial board), Irving Layton and Louis Dudek.
13. Leonard Cohen graduated from McGill the following year with a B.A. degree.
14. His literary influences during this time included William Butler Yeats, Irving Layton (who taught political science at McGill and became both Cohen’s mentor and friend), Walt Whitman, Federico García Lorca, and Henry Miller.
15. His first published book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), was published by Dudek as the first book in the McGill Poetry Series the year after Cohen’s graduation. The book contained poems written largely when Cohen was between the ages of 15 and 20, and Cohen dedicated the book to his late father. The well-known Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye wrote a review of the book in which he gave Cohen “restrained praise”.
16. After completing his undergraduate degree, Cohen spent a term in McGill’s law school and then a year (1956–57) at the School of General Studies at Columbia University.
17. Consequently, Cohen left New York and returned to Montreal in 1957, working various odd jobs and focusing on the writing of fiction and poetry, including the poems for his next book, The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), which was the first book that Cohen published through the Canadian publishing company McClelland & Stewart.
18. His father’s will provided him with a modest trust income, sufficient to allow him to pursue his literary ambitions for the time, and The Spice-Box of Earth was successful in helping to expand the audience for Cohen’s poetry, helping him reach out to the poetry scene in Canada, outside the confines of McGill University. The book also helped Cohen gain critical recognition as an important new voice in Canadian poetry.
19. Cohen continued to write poetry and fiction throughout much of the 1960s and preferred to live in quasi-reclusive circumstances after he bought a house on Hydra, a Greek island in the Saronic Gulf. While living and writing on Hydra, Cohen published the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964), and the novels The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966).
20. His novel The Favourite Game was an autobiographical bildungsroman about a young man who discovers his identity through writing. Beautiful Losers received a good deal of attention from the Canadian press and stirred up controversy because of a number of sexually graphic passages.
21. In 1966 Cohen also published Parasites of Heaven, a book of poems. Both Beautiful Losers and Parasites of Heaven received mixed reviews and sold few copies.
22. In 1978 he published his first book of poetry in many years, Death of a Lady’s Man (not to be confused with the album he released the previous year with the similar title, Death of a Ladies’ Man).
23. It was not until 1984 that Cohen published his next book of poems, Book of Mercy, which won him the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for Poetry. The book contains 50 prose-poems, influenced by the Hebrew Bible and Zen writings. 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. The Book of Longing is dedicated to the poet Irving Layton. Also, during the late 1990s and 2000s, many of Cohen’s new poems and lyrics were first published on the fan website The Leonard Cohen Files, including the original version of the poem “A Thousand Kisses Deep” (which Cohen later adapted for a song).
34. In the 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. Lissauer produced Cohen’s next record Various Positions, which was released in December 1984 (and in January and February 1985 in various European countries). 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.”
35. 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 the United States since 1975, although Columbia declined to release the album in the United States, where it was pressed in small number of copies by the independent Passport Records. Anjani Thomas, who would become Cohen’s partner, and a regular member of Cohen’s recording team, joined his touring band.
36. The band performed 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 martial law and performed the song “The Partisan,” regarded as the hymn of the Polish Solidarity movement. During the 1980s, almost all of Cohen’s songs were performed in the Polish language by Maciej Zembaty.
37. “Hallelujah” was first released on Cohen’s studio album Various Positions in 1984. The song had limited initial success but found greater popularity through a 1991 cover by John Cale, which formed the basis for a later cover by Jeff Buckley. “Hallelujah” has been performed by almost 200 artists in various languages.
38. Statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); the Canadian Recording Industry Association; the Australian Recording Industry Association; and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry show more than five million copies of the song sold prior to late 2008 in compact-disc format. It has been the subject of a BBC Radio documentary and been featured in the soundtracks of numerous films and television programs
39. The song is the subject of the book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of ‘Hallelujah’ (2012) by Alan Light. In a New York Times review Janet Maslin praised the book and the song, noting that “Cohen spent years struggling with his song ‘Hallelujah’; he wrote perhaps as many as 80 verses before paring the song down and recording it on the 1984 album Various Positions. His label, CBS Records, refused to release Various Positions, not realizing that ‘Hallelujah’ would become one of the most haunting, mutable, and oft-performed songs in American musical history.”
40. The use of the album track “Everybody Knows” from I’m Your Man and “If It Be Your Will” in the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume helped expose Cohen’s music to a younger audience. The song “Everybody Knows” also featured prominently in fellow Canadian Atom Egoyan’s 1994 film, Exotica.
41. 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 also promoted Cohen’s work to a new generation of US listeners.
42. 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.
43. 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 on 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.
44. In 1993, Cohen also published his book of selected poems and songs, Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs, on which he had worked since 1989. It includes a number of new poems from the late 1980s and early 1990s and major revision of his 1978 book Death of a Lady’s Man.
45. In 1994, Cohen retreated to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles, beginning what became five years of seclusion at the center.
46. 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.
47. 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.
48. Cohen had a relationship beginning in the 1970s with the Los Angeles artist Suzanne Elrod, with whom he had two children: a son, Adam, born in 1972, and a daughter, Lorca, born in 1974 and named after poet Federico García Lorca. Adam Cohen began a career as a singer–songwriter in the mid-1990s and fronts a band called Low Millions, while Lorca took part in her father’s tour team during the 2008–10 world tour as photographer and videographer. She also shot 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 Thompson. In 2011 Lorca gave birth to a daughter, with biological father Rufus Wainwright. Lorca is raising the child.
49. “Suzanne,” one of his best-known songs, refers to Suzanne Verdal, the former wife of a friend, the Québécois sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, rather than Elrod.
50. In the 1980s, Cohen was in a relationship with the French photographer Dominique Issermann, who shot his first two music videos for the songs “Dance Me to the End of Love” and “First We Take Manhattan.”
51. In the 1990s, Cohen was romantically linked to actress Rebecca De Mornay. De Mornay co-produced Cohen’s 1992 album The Future, which is also dedicated to her with an inscription that quotes Rebecca’s coming to the well from the Book of Genesis chapter 24 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”.
52. In addition to his two children, Cohen had two grandchildren; grandson Cassius through his son Adam and granddaughter Viva through Lorca
53. Cohen died on 7 November 2016 at the age of 82 at his home in Los Angeles.His death was not announced until 10 November. A memorial is planned to take place in Los Angeles at a future date.
54. Leonard Cohen was survived by his two children and two grandchildren.
55. Leonard Cohen is mentioned in the Nirvana song “Pennyroyal Tea” from the band’s 1993 release, In Utero. Kurt Cobain wrote, “Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld/ So I can sigh eternally.”
56. Cohen, after Cobain’s suicide, was quoted as saying “I’m sorry I couldn’t have spoken to the young man. I see a lot of people at the Zen Centre, who have gone through drugs and found a way out that is not just Sunday school. There are always alternatives, and I might have been able to lay something on him.”
57. He is also mentioned in the lyrics of Marillion’s song “Montréal” from their 2012 release Sounds That Can’t Be Made.
58. In 1991, playwright Bryden MacDonald launched Sincerely, A Friend, a musical revue based on Cohen’s music