Leonard Cohen, Singer and Songwriter, Is Dead at 82

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential Canadian singer and songwriter died on Thursday, November 10 at the age of 82.


The news broke via the singer’s official Facebook page. A message posted by Sony Records Canada reads “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.” No cause of death has been released at this time.

Cohen had a long and prolific career as a poet, songwriter and a singer in his own right. According to Rolling Stone, Cohen started out as a poet after being inspired by the work of Frederico Garcia Lorca. He published a poetry collections, Flowers for Hitler (1964) and two novels –The Favourite Game(1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966)– while living on the Greek island of Hydra.

In the early 1960s, Cohen moved to New York City to explore the burgeoning folk-rock scene and penned many a song for influential artists like Judy Collins, James Taylor and Willie Nelson. While in New York, he also spent time with Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground and Nico.

In 1995, Cohen stopped performing and entered the Mt. Baldy Zen Center and became an ordained Buddhist monk. Rolling Stone notes that he “attributed Buddhism to curbing the depressive episodes that had always plagued him.”

Cohen’s career was prolific and long-ranging, but he is perhaps best known for “Hallelujah,” a song that was originally released on his 1984 album Various Positions. The song was made famous by Jeff Buckley’s 1994 cover, but Cohen’s version is less mournful and more triumphant than Buckley’s dirge. It has been covered by everyone from Regina Spektor to k.d. Lang to Rufus Wainwright to American Idol contestants and was also featured on the soundtrack to Shrek. A 2012 book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah” traces the song’s ascendancy in popular culture, from its inception to its ubiquity and sounds like a fascinating read.

The covers of this song have their place, but Cohen’s version is far superior. Watch a 2009 performance of it below.

Senior Writer, Jezebel



Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah, give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah, when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes —-
Everybody knows.