Leonard Cohen biography
Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was born on September 21, 1934. An early writer and guitarist, Cohen began to compose and release folk-rock and pop songs by the mid-1960s. One of his most famous compositions is "Hallelujah," a song released on 1984's Various Positions. Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and he received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2010.
Leonard Norman Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As a teenager, Cohen learned to play guitar, and around the same time, he began writing poetry and novels. Not long after graduating from McGill University, in 1955, Cohen decided to move to New York City.
By the mid-1960s, Cohen had become intrigued by the Greenwich Village folk scene and, with his background in music and writing, music composition was a natural step. He soon began to compose and release folk-rock and pop songs, and in 1967, made his musical debut at the Newport Folk Festival. The event spurred Cohen's fame, and he continued to perform publicly, at concerts in New York City, as well as on the television program Camera Three, a cultural affairs program that aired weekly on CBS at the time.
Also in the mid-1960s, Cohen began receiving praise for songs made popular by other singers. In 1966, folk singer Judy Collins released her album In My Life, which included two singles that were written by Cohen: "Suzanne" and "Dress Rehearsal Rag." In 1967, Noel Harrison released his own, pop rendition of Cohen's "Suzanne." By the end of that year, Cohen had released his first album, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, which included his version of the song "Suzanne." The album also included the popular songs "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" and "Master Song," among others.
Two years later, Cohen released Songs from a Room (1969), featuring the now-famous single "Bird on a Wire." That album was followed by 1971's Songs of Love and Hate, which included the singles "Avalanche" and "Famous Blue Raincoat." Cohen produced three other albums before the end of the decade.
After co-writing the soundtrack to the musical film Night Magic, with fellow songwriter Lewis Furey, Cohen released 1984's Various Positions. The album included one of Cohen's most popular songs to date: "Hallelujah." The song has been covered countless times, including by John Cale and Jeff Buckley, whose renditions—both considered to be smoother, vocally, than Cohen's—received wide acclaim.
From the late 1980s to 2012, Cohen released a handful of albums, including I'm Your Man (1988), The Future (1992), Ten New Songs (2001) and Dear Heather (2004). In 2010, Sony Music released Songs from the Road, an album of songs that were performed live by Cohen in 2008 and 2009.
In January 2012, at the age of 77, Cohen released Old Ideas. In his late 70s, Cohen continues to write music and tour, most recently with a 2012 concert series.
Leonard Cohen—whose musical style has been deemed straightforward, prophetic and, at times, seemingly expressionless—has been compared to folk-rock musician Bob Dylan. Though some listeners have strayed away from Cohen's baritone voice and deadpan delivery, he has enjoyed wide critical and commercial acclaim. Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. He received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2010.