Skip to content
Home » Remembering Leonard Cohen: 11 Uncommon Facts About Him

Remembering Leonard Cohen: 11 Uncommon Facts About Him

Leonard Cohen singing

Leonard Cohen: Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist, left an indelible mark on the world with his soulful music and profound lyrics. While many are familiar with his iconic songs like “Hallelujah” and “Suzanne,” there are several lesser-known aspects of his life that showcase the depth and complexity of this multifaceted artist. Let’s delve into 11 uncommon facts about Leonard Cohen that add a layer of understanding to the man behind the music.

Leonard Cohen

1. A Late Bloomer in Music

Leonard Cohen’s journey into the world of music began later in life than most artists. He released his debut album, “Songs of Leonard Cohen,” at the age of 33 in 1967. Before venturing into music, Cohen had already established himself as a respected poet and novelist, demonstrating that creativity knows no age limits.

2. Zen Philosophy Influence

Cohen’s deep interest in Zen Buddhism had a profound impact on his work. He spent time at the Mount Baldy Zen Center in California, where he became an ordained Zen Buddhist monk. This spiritual exploration is evident in the meditative and contemplative themes woven throughout his songs and poetry.

3. The Chelsea Hotel Connection

The Chelsea Hotel in New York City was not just a place of residence for Cohen; it also played a significant role in his creative life. He wrote several songs and poems within the walls of this historic hotel, including the famous “Chelsea Hotel #2,” which nostalgically reflects on a past romance.

Leonard Cohen looks good

4. An Accomplished Novelist

Cohen’s talents extended beyond the realm of music and poetry. He was a published novelist, with works such as “Beautiful Losers” (1966) and “The Favourite Game” (1963) receiving critical acclaim. His novels, much like his lyrics, were characterized by their introspective and philosophical nature.

5. Influence on Other Artists

Cohen’s impact on the music industry goes beyond his own discography. Many artists, ranging from folk to rock to pop, have covered his songs, demonstrating the universal appeal of his lyrics. Notable covers include Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah” and John Cale’s version of “Suzanne.”

6. A Voice of Velvet and Smoke

Cohen’s distinctive voice, often described as a blend of velvet and smoke, became an integral part of his signature sound. Despite not possessing a conventionally polished voice, Cohen’s deep and resonant tones conveyed a raw and authentic emotion that captivated audiences worldwide.

7. Multilingual Musician

Cohen’s linguistic prowess extended to multiple languages. He was fluent in English and French, and he often incorporated both languages into his songs. This bilingual ability added a unique dimension to his music, showcasing his versatility as a songwriter.

8. A Poet’s Grammy

In 2010, Cohen’s poetry collection, “Book of Longing,” earned him a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. This recognition reinforced his status as a literary force, emphasizing the enduring impact of his written words beyond the musical realm.

Leonard Cohen singing

9. Cohen the Philanthropist

Beyond his artistic contributions, Cohen was actively involved in philanthropy. He donated the proceeds from his 2008-2009 world tour to various charitable organizations, demonstrating his commitment to making a positive impact on the world.

10. Reclusive Years

In the 1990s, Cohen took a hiatus from the music industry and lived as a recluse in a Buddhist monastery. This period of withdrawal and reflection added a layer of mystery to his persona and contributed to the enigmatic allure that surrounded him.

11. Posthumous Album Release

Even after his passing in 2016, Cohen continued to gift the world with his art. A posthumous album titled “Thanks for the Dance” was released in 2019, featuring unfinished recordings from his final studio sessions. This poignant collection served as a bittersweet farewell from the legendary artist.

As we remember Leonard Cohen, it becomes clear that his legacy extends far beyond the melodies and lyrics that continue to resonate with listeners. His life was a tapestry woven with diverse experiences, creative pursuits, and a profound connection to the human experience. The uncommon facts about Cohen offer a glimpse into the rich and complex tapestry of a true artistic icon.