Leonard Cohen, “Master of Erotic Despair”

“Suzanne” Live–Watch on YouTube

I have to admit I was never a big fan of Leonard Cohen’s. I found him to be a tad morose, and I (at least at the time) was more drawn to driving, uptempo beats. But I tolerated him to get close to a girl I had a crush on and who would subject me to side after side of Cohen.

I did like “Bird on a Wire,” a song my rock hero Joe Cocker recorded beautifully in spite of his croaky voice. And, of course, Judy Collins had turned the world on to Cohen by recording her own version of “Suzanne.

Over the years, I have warmed to Cohen. One of the most moving performances I’ve ever heard was k.d. lang’s rendition of “Hallelujah,” which she sang at, of all places, the Target National Sales Meeting. At 10 in the morning, in front of thousands of rowdy store managers and caffeinated executives, lang walked out in bare feet and began to softly sing to the accompaniment of a piano. The audience was more accustomed to cheerleader acts like Black Eyed Peas at their annual shindig, and I thought, “Oh God, this is going to bomb.”

But lang, lifted by Cohen’s amazing lyrics, completely captured the crowd. As her voice crescendoed through the verses, the basketball arena where we had gathered grew silent in awe. I could feel the hair on my arm stand on end, and as I looked around me, I sensed others felt the same way.

“Hallelujah” Live Verson by k.d. lang on Spotify

3 thoughts on “Leonard Cohen, “Master of Erotic Despair”

  1. Two songs from the 2nd (or 3rd?) act in Cohen’s career where his aim was eerily prescient:
    Democracy
    The Future

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