leonard cohen
Rama / Wikimedia.org
  • Faith: Judaism
  • Career: Musician
  • Birthday:  September 21, 1934
  • Date of Death:  November 07, 2016

Leonard Cohen was a poet, singer-songwriter, and novelist. His work commonly explored themes like isolation and depression, faith, betrayal and redemption, social and political conflict, and romantic love, desire, loss, and regret. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cohen was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2011, he received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.

Cohen pursued a career as a novelist and poet during the 1950s and early 1960s and didn’t start a music career until 1966. His first album, “Songs of Leonard Cohen,” was followed by three more albums of folk music: “Songs from a Room,” “Songs of Love and Hate,” and “New Skin for the Old Ceremony.” His 1977 record “Death of a Ladies’ Man,” co-written and produced by Phil Spector, was a move away from his previous minimalist sound. In 1979, he returned with the more traditional “Recent Songs,” which blended his acoustic style with jazz, Mediterranean, and East Asian influences. Cohen’s most well-known song, “Hallelujah,” was released on his seventh album “Various Positions” in 1984.

In 1988, “I’m Your Man” marked his turn to synthesized productions and in 1992, he released its follow-up, “The Future,” which had dark lyrics and referenced social and political unrest. Cohen returned to music in 2001 with the release of “Ten New Songs,” a major hit in Canada and Europe. His eleventh studio album, “Dear Heather,” followed in 2004. The following year, Cohen discovered that his manager had stolen most of his money and sold his publishing rights, prompting a return to touring to recoup his losses. After a successful string of tours between 2008 and 2013, Cohen released three albums in the final years of his life: “Old Ideas,” “Popular Problems,” and “You Want It Darker,” the last of which was released three weeks before his death.

Cohen died on November 7, 2016, at 82 years old, at his home in Los Angeles. Leukemia was a contributing cause. According to his manager, Cohen’s death was the result of a fall at his home that evening, and he subsequently died in his sleep. His posthumous and final album, “Thanks for the Dance,” was released in November 2019.

What religion was Leonard Cohen?

Cohen got involved with Buddhism in the 1970s and was ordained a Rinzai Buddhist monk in 1996, but he continued to consider himself Jewish. He said, “I’m not looking for a new religion. I’m quite happy with the old one, with Judaism.” Starting in the late 1970s, Cohen was associated with Buddhist monk and rōshi Kyozan Joshu Sasaki, regularly visited him at Mount Baldy Zen Center, and served him as a personal assistant during Cohen’s period of reclusion at Mount Baldy monastery in the 1990s. Cohen also showed an interest in the teachings of Ramesh Balsekar, who taught from the tradition of Advaita Vedanta.

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