Canada week continues today with a tribute to my favourite Canadian singer/songwriter, Leonard Cohen.
With his deep, gritty voice and dark songs, Leonard Cohen has carved out his own niche in the landscape of Canadian music. He has accolades upon accolades, being inducted into multiple Halls of Fame (American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame) as well as being a recipient of Canada’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada.
A native of Montreal, Cohen’s unique style is unmistakable. While listening to his songs, I find myself transported to a dark, smoky club filled with a distinctly French, world weariness and an underlying sexual tension.
His songs are often topical. Everybody Knows, for example, is about sexual relationships during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s in which “the naked man and woman are just a shining artifact of the past.”
Cohen’s songs have been covered by many other artists over the years, most efforts falling far short of Cohen’s original, both in style and artistic impact. His song, Hallelujah has been covered by almost 200 different artists in various languages. For me there is only one that can hold a candle to his original. Ironically that cover is by another iconic Canadian artist, k.d. lang, because she is able to make the song entirely her own. Below are versions by both singers.
Leonard Cohen is a gifted artist if he can get an atheistic heathen like me to share not one, but two versions of a song entitled Hallelujah.
All kidding aside, Leonard Cohen truly is a living legend and a national treasure.