This site too slow? Try a mirror  --  Subscribe to the Guide  --  Find artist:
the Ectophiles' Guide: * Guide Home* What's new* * Alphabetical* Genre* Commentator* Location* Random artist* Search* Contact the editors* Credits

Leonard Cohen


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

His early work is folk, his later work, pop.

Status:

Leonard Cohen died in November 2016, just days after his final release, You Want It Darker (2016)

See also:

Leonard Cohen's Official Site

The Leonard Cohen Fan Information Files

Comparisons:

His work is totally individual—I can't think of anyone like him, though he has influenced many, many people. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own material

General comments:

Leonard Cohen has certainly been a huge influence on many other artists mentioned here. Personally, I am really only a fan of Leonard Cohen's early more folkish material. I occasionally listen to the later albums, but not often. Leonard Cohen is an acquired taste anyway, and he can't really sing but that has never stopped him. He's a great songwriter—especially an excellent, evocative lyricist—and his voice is, well, sexy, which is especially apparent on his earlier material with their simpler production. Cohen blasted onto the scene in 1968 and I've been listening to his work ever since. (Neile)

In my humble (and widely contested) opinion, Leonard Cohen is one of those brilliant songwriters who shouldn't be allowed to sing their own songs (Tom Waits and Bob Dylan are others). I just can't *stand* his voice. It sets my teeth on edge and my fingers heading for the volume control. But I know that's just me. (meth@smoe.org)

I'd definitely list Leonard Cohen as a songwriter, but i tend to prefer others singing his songs (though I have had, over time, every one of his albums and books). (jzitt@humansystems.com)

Recommended first album:

One or both of the best of collections would be a good place to start. If you'd rather not start with a compilation, I recommend Songs of Leonard Cohen for those who like folk or The Future for those who like more pop-style music. My personal favourites are Songs of Love and Hate and New Skin for the Old Ceremony because I feel it's there Cohen is at the height of his songwriting powers. (Neile)

Recordings:


Songs of Leonard Cohen

Release info:

1968—Columbia—CK 9533

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for lovers of folk with the caveat that you are interested mostly in interesting lyrics and delivery rather than polish. (Neile)

Produced by:

John Simon

Comments:

I've been listening to this album since I was ten years old, and I still love the songs. The lyrics are wonderful/powerful/mysterious. "Suzanne" is the song that everyone has covered, but no one does it quite like Cohen. Other great songs include "The Sisters of Mercy", "The Master Song", all of the rest. A great album. (Neile)

Songs From a Room

Release info:

1969—Columbia—CK 9767

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended if you like Leonard Cohen's earlier work. (Neile)

Produced by:

Bob Johnston

Comments:

Very like his first album. Great lyrics, with a fairly simple musical accompaniment. (Neile)

Songs of Love and Hate

Release info:

1971—Columbia—WCK 30103

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Must have if you like Cohen at all.

Comments:

This has some of Cohen's absolutely best songwriting, including "Joan of Arc," "Famous Blue Raincoat," "Avalanche" and "Love Calls You By Your Name." Brilliant. (Neile)

New Skin for the Old Ceremony

Release info:

1974—Columbia—CD 32660

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Must have (Neile)

Group members/backing musicians:

Emily Bindiger—vocals
Gerald Chamberlain—trombones
Leonard Cohen—guitar and vocals
Erin Dickins—vocals
Lewis Furey—viola
Ralph Gibson—guitar
Armen Halburian—percussion
Jeff Layton—banjo, mandolin, guitar, trumpet
Barry Lazarowitz—percussion
John Lissaauer—woodwinds, keyboards, vocals
Roy Markowitx—drums
John Miller & Don Payne—bass

Produced by:

Leonard Cohen and John Lissauer

Comments:

Wonderful songs. I could list almost every song on this collection—they're all amazing. Ok, "Is This What You Wanted," "Chelsea Hotel" (which is supposedly about Janis Joplin), "Lover, Lover, Lover," "Field Commander Cohen", "There is a War" "Who By Fire," "Take This Longing" are my favourites here. Hmm. Even listing the songs makes me want to play this one. This is probably my favourite Cohen album. (Neile)

Death of a Ladies Man

Release info:

1977—Columbia

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Only recommended for Cohen completists. (Neile)

Comments:

My least favourite of his recordings. Very pop and overdone. I must confess, though, that some of the songs stick in my head just because of how charmingly bad they are, e.g., "Fingerprints". (Neile)

Most agree that the one to avoid (or at least get last) is Death of a Ladies' Man, his collision, er, collaboration with Phil Spector. Cohen later said of it something along the lines of "The songs gave a party, and the arrangements snubbed them out of spite." (jzitt@humansystems.com)


Recent Songs

Release info:

1979—Columbia

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Cohen fans. (Neile)

Comments:

A good recording of his. A couple of really great songs. Still, I've never replaced my vinyl copy of this one—I just don't play it enough. (Neile)

Various Positions

Release info:

1985—Columbia

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for those who like Cohen's later sound. (Neile)

Group members:

Leonard Cohen—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Jennifer Warnes—vocals
John Crowder—bass, backing vocals
Richard Crooks—bass
Sid McGinnes—guitar
Kenneth Kosek—Fiddle
Ron Getman—harmonica, backing vocals
John Lissauer—piano, keyboard orchestrations, backing vocals
Erin Dickins, Merle Miller, Yvonne Lewis, Anjani Thomas, Crissie Faith, Lani Groves—backing vocals

Produced by:

John Lissauer

Comments:

This has two of my favorites of his songs, "Hallelujah" and "If It Be Thy Will". (jzitt@humansystems.com)

I'm Your Man

Release info:

1988—Columbia—CDANIC 080

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Must have

Group members:

Leonard Cohen—vocals, keyboards, piano

Guest artists:

Jeff Fisher—"played by" (1, 6), arrangements (1, 2, 6), keyboards (2) Anjani Thomas—vocals (1, 2, 4, 6)
Jennifer Warnes—adlib (2); vocals (3, 5, 7, 8)
Richard Baudet—sax (2)
Vinnie Colaiuta—drums (2, 7), additional drums (6)
Peter Kislienko-bass (2)
Bob Stanley—guitar (2)
John Bilezjian—oud (3)
Michel Robidoux—keyboards (3), drum fill (4)
Tom Brechtein—drums (4)
Evelyine Hebey, Mayel Assouly, Elisabeth Valletti—vocals (5)
Raffi Hakopian—violin (5)
Jude Johnstone—vocals (7)
Larry Cohen—keyboards (7)
Snekay Peter Kleinow—steel guitar (7)
Lenny Castro—percussion (7)

Produced by:

Leonard Cohen; Leonard Cohen and Michel Robidoux (4); Leonard Cohen and Jean-Michel Reusser (5)

Comments:

A recent album that immediately precedes The Future both chronologically and in style. If you like The Future you will like this one. (Neile)

The Future

Release info:

1992—Columbia—CK 53226

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for those who like Cohen's later sound. (Neile)

Produced by:

Leonard Cohen, Steve Lindsey, Bill Ginn, Leanne Ungar, Rebecca De Mornay and Yoav Goren

Comments:

I like this, but I'm not wild about the production and prefer the simpler arrangements of the earlier albums. This is pretty representative of his current work and sound. The lyrics are still great. (Neile)

Leonard Cohen Live

Release info:

1994—Columbia

Availability:

Wide

Comments:

Yes! Most of my favorites. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

Ten New Songs

Release info:

2001—Columbia Records—CK 85953

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Cohen fans and fans of soft pop

Group members:

Leonard Cohen—vocals Sharon Robinson—vocals, programming

Guest artists:

Bob Metzger—guitar on 1 track
David Campbell—string arrangement on 1 track

Produced by:

Sharon Robinson

Comments:

Again, I find the production way too smooth and pretty. Cohen is better to me when his rough edges aren't smoothed-over by easy-listening-style production. Still, it's neat to hear more of his wonderful songwriting, and his voice is as sexy as ever. (Neile)

Old Ideas

Release info:

2012—Columbia—88697986712

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

Cohen's last few albums all contained a few very good songs buried between lots of very bland tracks. This album follows along the same path but is a bit less on the bland side. Tuning down the female backing vocal choir might have had something to do with this development. Cohen is also infamous for his sometimes questionable taste in album artwork but this one's actually pretty decent. (raschee@gmail.com)

Popular Problems

Release info:

2014—Columbia—88875014292

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Leonard Cohen—vocals

Guest artists:

Charlean Carmon—backing vocals (1-4, 6-8)
Dana Glover—backing vocals (3, 5, 6, 8, 9)
Donna Delory—backing vocals (4, 7)
Patrick Leonard—keyboards (3-5, 8, 9)
Joe Ayoub—bass (3-5, 8, 9)
Brian Macleod—drums (3-5, 8, 9)
Alexandru Bublitchi—violin (3, 5, 9)
James Harrah—guitar (5, 9)

Produced by:

Patrick Leonard

Comments:

I already liked Cohen's previous release but this is much, much improved; the backing vocals are more confined to the back and it's more musically challenging. Rating: 56/100. Best tracks: "Nevermind," "Almost Like the Blues," "A Street." (raschee@gmail.com)

Further info:

There is a dedicated Usenet group for Cohen: alt.music.leonard-cohen

VIDEOS

VHS releases include

  • Songs From the Life of Leonard Cohen (1993)
DVD releases include

  • Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen (1999)
  • Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2006)
  • Under Review: 1934-1977 (2007)
  • Under Review: 1978-2006 (2008)
  • Live in London (2009)
  • Live at the Isle of Wight, 1970 (2009)
  • Leonard Cohen's Lonesome Heroes (2010)
  • Songs From the Road (2010)
  • The Early Years (2011)
  • After the Goldrush (2012)
  • The Complete Review (2012)
TRIBUTES

Tribute albums include:

  • Io come chiunque by Daiano (1974)
  • Famous Blue Raincoat by Jennifer Warnes (1986)—She does a decent, if pop-y version of his songs. He does backup vox on at least one song.
  • I'm Your Fan (1991)—a rougher-edged compilation
  • More Fans (1991)
  • Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (1995)—mostly pretty awful—the exceptions being Tori Amos's wonderful "Famous Blue Raincoat" and Suzanne Vega's's "Story of Isaac"
  • Songs From a Room by Red (2001)
  • P&oring; danske lœber—16 Leonard Cohen-sange i danske fortolkninger (2004)
  • Democracy: Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen (2004)
  • Vandaag (het morgen van gisteren) by Yasmine (2004)
  • Bird on the Wire: The Songs of Leonard Cohen by Perla Batalla (2005)
  • Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2006)
  • Cohen: The Scandinavian Report (2009)
  • The Songs of Leonard Cohen Covered (2012)
  • Leonard Cohen: The Bard of Montreal (2012)
BOOKS

Leonard Cohen has published two novels and various collections of poetry. He also wrote the foreword to Shozan Jack Haubner's Zen Confidential: Confessions of a Wayward Monk (2013). Cohen is the subject of several books including:

  • Leonard Cohen: A Life in Art by Ira Nadel (1995)
  • Leonard Cohen: Style of Passion by Jim Devlin (1996)
  • Dylan and Cohen: Poets of Rock and Roll by David Boucher (2004)
  • Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira B. Nadel (2007)
  • Leonard Cohen—Hallelujah: A New Biography by Tim Footman (2009)
  • Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life (2011)
  • I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons (2012)
  • Leonard Cohen: The Music and the Mystique by Maurice Ratcliff (2012)
  • The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" by Alan Light (2012)


Thanks to Chris Montville and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

Why the ads?


Artists commented on by
raschee @ gmail.com

1 - 40 of 51 entries

Ai-Sa  Sh-Yo  >>

Click the bullet for speed (drop the menu) or the name for convenience (keep the menu)


>
Lydia Ainsworth

>
Tori Amos

>
Antony and the Johnsons

>
Fiona Apple

>
Austra

>
Bat For Lashes

>
Blondie

>
The Both

>
Mary Chapin Carpenter

>
Rosanne Cash

>
Chloe Charles

>
Neneh Cherry

>
Leonard Cohen

>
The Cranberries

>
Daughter

>
Dido

>
ani difranco

>
Marianne Faithfull

>
Thea Gilmore

>
Goldfrapp

>
Imogen Heap

>
Jewel

>
Norah Jones

>
Angélique Kidjo

>
Gaba Kulka

>
Mélissa Laveaux

>
Lykke Li

>
Aimee Mann

>
Laura Marling

>
Charlotte Martin

>
Sarah McLachlan

>
Natalie Merchant

>
Alanis Morissette

>
Meshell Ndegeocello

>
Stevie Nicks

>
Agnes Obel

>
Sinéad O'Connor

>
Amanda Palmer

>
Pixies

>
Rachael Sage

Ai-Sa  Sh-Yo  >>


Other Commentators...
the Ectophiles' Guide: * Guide Home* What's new* * Alphabetical* Genre* Commentator* Location* Random artist* Search* Contact the editors* Credits

DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2016-11-19 19:04:33.
Please request permission if you wish to
reproduce any of the comments in the
Ectophiles' Guide in any context.

The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music is copyright © 1996-2004 by the editors.
Individual comments are copyright © by their authors.
Web site design and programming copyright © 1998-2004 usrbin design + programming.
All rights reserved.