Born: October 21, 1934
Leonard Norman Cohen, CC, GOQ (born 21 September 1934) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality, and interpersonal relationships. Cohen has been inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. While giving the speech at Cohen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 10 March 2008, Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the highest and most influential echelon of songwriters. Early life...
Leonard Norman Cohen, CC, GOQ (born 21 September 1934) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality, and interpersonal relationships. Cohen has been inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. While giving the speech at Cohen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 10 March 2008, Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the highest and most influential echelon of songwriters. Early life
Cohen was born on 21 September 1934 in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, into a middle-class Jewish family. His mother, of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry, emigrated from Lithuania while his great-grandfather emigrated from Poland.  He grew up in Westmount on the Island of Montreal. His grandfather was Lyon Cohen, founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial Montreal clothing store, died when Cohen was nine years old. On the topic of being a Kohen, Cohen has said that, I had a very Messianic childhood. He told Richard Goldstein in 1967. I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest. Cohen attended Westmount High School, beginning in 1948 where he was involved with the Student Council and studied music and poetry. He became especially interested in the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca. As a teenager, he learned to play the guitar, and formed a country-folk group called the Buckskin Boys. Although he initially played a regular acoustic guitar as a teenager, he soon switched to playing a classical guitar after meeting a young Spanish flamenco guitar player who taught him a few chords and some flamenco. Poetry and novels
In 1951, Cohen enrolled at McGill University, where he became president of the McGill Debating Union and won the Chester MacNaughton Prize for Creative Writing for a series of four poems titled Thoughts of a Landsman. He graduated in 1955 with a B.A. degree. His literary influences during this time included William Butler Yeats, Irving Layton, Walt Whitman, Federico Garcia Lorca and Henry Miller. His first published book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), was published by Louis Dudek (who taught poetry at McGill and was a mentor to Cohen) as the first book in the McGill Poetry Series while Cohen was still an undergraduate student. The book contained poems written largely when Cohen was between the ages of fifteen and twenty, and Cohen dedicated the book to his late father. The famous and influential Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye wrote a review of the book in which he gave Cohen restrained praise.  After completing an undergraduate degree, Cohen spent a term in McGill's law school and then a year (1956-7) at the School of General Studies at Columbia University. Cohen described his graduate school experience as passion without flesh, love without climax. Consequently, Cohen left New York and returned to Montreal in 1957, working various odd jobs and focusing on the writing of fiction and poetry, including the poems for his next book, The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), which was the first book that Cohen published through the Canadian publishing company McClelland & Stewart. Fortunately, his father's will provided him with a modest trust income, sufficient to allow him to pursue his literary ambitions for the time, and The Spice-Box of Earth was successful in helping to expand the audience for Cohen's poetry, helping him reach out to the poetry scene in Canada, outside the confines of McGill University. The book also helped Cohen gain critical recognition as an important new voice in Canadian poetry. One of Cohen's biographers, Ira Nadel, stated that reaction to the finished book was enthusiastic and admiring. . .[noting that] the critic Robert Weaver found it powerful and declared that Cohen was 'probably the best young poet in English Canada right now.' Cohen continued to write poetry and fiction throughout much of the 1960s and preferred to live in quasi-reclusive circumstances after he bought a house on Hydra, a Greek island in the Saronic Gulf. While living and writing on Hydra, Cohen published the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964), and the novels The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966). His novel The Favourite Game was an autobiographical bildungsroman about a young man who discovers his identity through writing. Beautiful Losers received a good deal of attention from the Canadian press and stirred up controversy because of a number of sexually graphic passages. In 1966 Cohen also published Parasites of Heaven, a book of poems. Both Beautiful Losers and Parasites of Heaven received mixed reviews and sold few copies. Subsequently, Cohen published less, with major gaps, concentrating more on recording songs. In 1978, he published his first book of poetry in many years, Death of a Lady's Man (not to be confused with the album he released the previous year with the similar title, Death of a Ladies' Man). It wasn't until 1984 that Cohen published his next book of poems, Book of Mercy, which won him the Canadian Author's Association Literary Award for Poetry. The book contains 50 prose-poems, influenced by the Bible, Torah, and Zen-Buddhist writings. Cohen himself referred to the pieces as prayers. In 1993, Cohen published Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs, and in 2006, after 10 years of delays, additions and rewritings, Book of Longing. During the late 1990s and 2000s, many of his poems were first published on his fan website The Leonard Cohen Files  Cohen's writing process, as he told an interviewer in 1998, is ...like a bear stumbling into a beehive or a honey cache: I'm stumbling right into it and getting stuck, and it's delicious and it's horrible and I'm in it and it's not very graceful and it's very awkward and it's very painful and yet there's something inevitable about it. In 2011, Cohen was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for literature. Recording career
1960s and 1970s In 1967, disappointed with his lack of financial success as a writer, Cohen moved to the United States to pursue a career as a folk music singer-songwriter. During the 1960s, he was a fringe figure in Andy Warhol's Factory crowd. Warhol speculated that Cohen had spent time listening to Nico in clubs and that this had influenced his musical style. His song Suzanne became a hit for Judy Collins and was for many years his most covered song. After performing at a few folk festivals, he came to the attention of Columbia Records representative John H. Hammond. At this time, Cohen recorded at least one demo acetate (possibly for some subsidiary of Polygram), supported by his close companion at the time, Joni Mitchell. Cohen's first album was Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967). Although Hammond was originally supposed to produce the record, he became sick and was replaced by the producer John Simon. Unfortunately, Simon and Cohen clashed over instrumentation and mixing. Cohen wanted the album to have a spare sound, but Simon felt that the songs could benefit from arrangements that included strings and horns. According to biographer Ira Nadel, although Cohen was able to make changes to the mix, some of Simon's additions couldn't be removed from the four-track master tape. Nevertheless, the album became a cult favorite in the US, as well as in the UK, where it spent over a year on the album charts. Several of the songs on that first album were covered by other popular folk artists, including James Taylor, and Judy Collins. Cohen followed up that first album with Songs from a Room (1969) (featuring the often-recorded Bird on the Wire) and Songs of Love and Hate (1970). Both of these albums were produced in Nashville by famed producer Bob Johnston, who helped Cohen achieve the sparer sound that he'd been after on his first album; Johnston also joined Cohen on two subsequent live tours, playing organ and piano. In 1970, Cohen toured for the first time, with dates in the United States, Canada and Europe, and appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival. He toured again in Europe and Israel in 1972 with some of the same band-mates, including Charlie Daniels and his producer Bob Johnston. Both tours were represented on the Live Songs LP, while Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 was released in 2009. The 1972 tour was also filmed by Tony Palmer; the film Bird on a Wire (with which Cohen was unhappy) was shown re-cut under Cohen's guidance in 1974, but released only in 2010, reconstructed according to Palmer's original version. In 1971, Cohen's music was used in the soundtrack to Robert Altman's film McCabe & Mrs. Miller. When Cohen was on a stay in Nashville, Altman phoned to ask permission to use some tracks off Songs of Leonard Cohen. Coincidentally, earlier that same day, Cohen had seen Altman's then-current film Brewster McCloud in a local theater. He hadn't paid attention to the credits so when Altman asked permission to use Cohen's songs in his new film, Cohen had to ask him who he was. Altman mentioned his hit film MASH, but Cohen had never heard of it. When Altman mentioned his lesser-known Brewster McCloud, Cohen replied, Listen, I just came out of the theater. I saw it twice. You can have anything of mine you want! Beginning around 1974, Cohen's collaboration with pianist and arranger John Lissauer created a live sound praised by the critics. They toured together in 1974 in Europe, and in US and Canada in late 1974 and early 1975, in support of Cohen's record New Skin for the Old Ceremony. In late 1975 Cohen performed a short series of shows in the US and Canada with a new band, in support of his Best Of release. However, none of the recordings from the three live tours with John Lissauer were ever officially released. In 1976 Cohen, now without Lissauer, embarked on a new major European tour, with a new band and major changes in his sound and arrangements, again, in support of his The Best of Leonard Cohen release (in Europe retitled as Greatest Hits). One of the band members was Laura Branigan, and the set- list included unreleased songs Everybody's Child (a.k.a. Blessed Is the Memory) and Storeroom (both released as bonus tracks to 2007 reissue of Songs of Leonard Cohen), and the new song Do I Have to Dance All Night? (which was released as a single with the song The Butcher in a single available in Europe only). From April to July, Cohen gave 55 shows, including his first appearance at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival. After the European tour of 1976, Cohen again attempted a new change in his style and arrangements - his new 1977 record, Death of a Ladies' Man (one year later, in 1978, Cohen also released a volume of poetry with the coyly revised title, Death of a Lady's Man), was co-written and produced by Phil Spector, known as the inventor of the wall of sound technique, which backs up pop music with many layers of instrumentation, an approach very different from Cohen's usually minimalist instrumentation. The recording of the album was fraught with difficulty��Spector reportedly mixed the album in secret studio sessions, and Cohen said Spector once threatened him with a crossbow. Cohen thought the end result grotesque, but also semi-virtuous. The record was released by Spector's label, Warner, and was returned to Columbia's Cohen catalogue in the late 1980s. Cohen did not take part in the album's promotion, but in his tours of 1979, 1980 and 1985, he performed two songs from the album, Memories and Iodine. However, Cohen chose not to include any of the album's songs on his later compilations More Best of Leonard Cohen and The Essential Leonard Cohen. In 1979, Cohen returned with the more traditional Recent Songs, which blended his acoustic style with jazz and Oriental and Mediterranean influences. Beginning with this record, praised in 2001 by Cohen as his favourite, Cohen began to co-produce his albums. Produced by Cohen and Henry Lewy (Joni Mitchell's sound engineer), Recent Songs included performances by Passenger, an Austin-based jazz-fusion band that met Cohen through Mitchell. The band helped Cohen create a new sound by featuring instruments like the oud, the Gypsy violin and the mandolin. The album was supported by Cohen's major tour with the new band, and Jennifer Warnes and Sharon Robinson on the backing vocals, in Europe in late 1979, and again in Australia, Israel and Europe in 1980. The tour was filmed by Harry Rasky as The Song of Leonard Cohen, and the film was broadcast on television in 1980. Cohen also gave a couple of major TV appearances in 1979, including German's ZDF television. In 2000 Columbia released an album of live recordings of songs from the 1979 tour, entitled Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979; the album (with a different track list) was originally rejected by the label in 1980. During 1970s, Cohen toured twice with Jennifer Warnes as a back-up singer (in 1972 and 1979). Warnes would become a fixture on Cohen's future albums, receiving full co-vocals credit on Cohen's 1985 album Various Positions (although the record was released under Cohen's name, the inside credits say Vocals by Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes). In 1987, she recorded an album of Cohen songs, Famous Blue Raincoat. 1980s
Leonard Cohen (1988). In early 1980s, Cohen co-wrote the rock musical film Night Magic with Lewis Furey, starring Carole Laure and Nick Mancuso (voice-over by Furey); the LP was released in 1985. At that time, Cohen also worked on an unfinished album of his poetry recitations with producer Henry Lewy, before turning back to John Lissauer. Lissauer produced Cohen's next record Various Positions, which was released in late 1984. The LP included Dance Me to the End of Love, which was promoted by Cohen's first video clip, directed by French photographer Dominique Issermann, and the frequently covered Hallelujah. Columbia declined to release the album in the United States. Cohen supported the release of the album with his biggest tour to date, in Europe and Australia, and with his first tour in Canada and United States since 1975. Anjani Thomas, who would become Cohen's partner, and a regular member of Cohen's recording team, joined his touring band. The band performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and the Roskilde Festival. They also gave a series of highly emotional and politically controversial concerts in Poland, which was under martial law and performed the song The Partisan, regarded as the hymn of the Polish Solidarity movement. During the 80s, almost all Cohen's songs were performed in Polish language by Maciej Zembaty. In 1986, Cohen appeared in the episode French Twist of the TV series Miami Vice. In 1987, Jennifer Warnes's tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat helped restore Cohen's career in the US. The following year he released I'm Your Man, which marked a drastic change in his music. Synthesizers ruled the album and Cohen's lyrics included more social commentary and dark humor. The album, self-produced by Cohen, remains one of Cohen's most acclaimed albums, and was promoted by iconic black and white video shot by Dominique Issermann at the beach of Normandy. Cohen supported the record with series of television interviews, and an extensive tour of Europe, Canada and US. Many shows were broadcast on European and US television and radio stations, while Cohen performed for the first time in his career on PBS's Austin City Limits show; he also performed at the Roskilde Festival again, among other dates. The tour gave the basic structure to typical Cohen's concert which he used in his tours in 1993, 2008��09 and 2010. The selection of performances from the late 1980s was released in 1994 on Cohen Live. None of the concerts was released in its entirety, although some were bootlegged. Parts of one of three Royal Albert Hall concerts were used in BBC documentary The Songs from the Life of Leonard Cohen, which was released on laser disc and video tape. 1990s The use of the album track Everybody Knows (co-written by Sharon Robinson) in the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume helped expose Cohen's music to a younger audience. The song also featured prominently in fellow Canadian Atom Egoyan's 1994 film, Exotica. In 1992, Cohen released The Future, which urges (often in terms of biblical prophecy) perseverance, reformation, and hope in the face of grim prospects. Three tracks from the album - Waiting for the Miracle, The Future and Anthem - were featured in the movie Natural Born Killers, which helped Cohen reach a younger audience in the United States. As with I'm Your Man, the lyrics on the The Future were dark, and made references to political and social unrest. The title track is reportedly a response to the L.A. unrest of 1992. Cohen promoted the album with two music videos, for Closing Time and The Future, and supported the release with the major tour through Europe, United States and Canada, with the same band as in his 1988 tour, including a second appearance at the PBS's Austin City Limits. Some of the Scandinavian shows were broadcast live on the radio. The selection of performances, mostly recorded on the Canadian leg of the tour, was released on 1994 Cohen Live album, but none of the new songs from the album itself were included in the live album. In 1993 Cohen also published his book of selected poems and songs, Stranger Music, on which he had worked since 1989. It includes a number of new poems from the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1997, Cohen oversaw the selection and release of More Best of Leonard Cohen album, which included a previously unreleased track, Never Any Good, and an experimental piece The Great Event. The first was left over from Cohen's unfinished mid-1990s album, which was announced to include songs like In My Secret Life (already recited as song-in- progress in 1988) and A Thousand Kisses Deep, both later re-worked with Sharon Robinson for 2001 album Ten New Songs. In 1994, Cohen retreated to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles, beginning what became five years of seclusion at the center. In 1996, Cohen was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk and took the Dharma name Jikan, meaning silence. He served as personal assistant to Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi. Japanese songwriter and poet Masato Tomobe stated he admires Cohen and this made him better recognized in Japan around this time. Although around 2000 there was a public impression that Cohen would not resume recording or publishing, he returned to Los Angeles in May 1999. He began to contribute regularly to The Leonard Cohen Files fan website, emailing new poems and drawings from Book of Longing and early versions of new songs, like A Thousand Kisses Deep in September 1998 and Anjani Thomas's story sent on 6 May 1999, the day they were recording Villanelle for our Time (released on 2004 Dear Heather album). The section of The Leonard Cohen Files with Cohen's online writings has been titled The Blackening Pages. Cohen is mentioned in the Nirvana song Pennyroyal Tea from the band's 1993 release, In Utero. Kurt Cobain wrote, Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld/ So I can sigh eternally. Cohen, after Cobain's suicide, was quoted as saying I'm sorry I couldn't have spoken to the young man. I see a lot of people at the Zen Centre, who have gone through drugs and found a way out that is not just Sunday school. There are always alternatives, and I might have been able to lay something on him. 2000s Post-monastery records: Ten New Songs, Dear Heather and Anjani's Blue Alert After two years of production, Cohen returned to music in 2001 with the release of Ten New Songs, featuring a heavy influence from producer and co-composer Sharon Robinson. The album, recorded at Cohen's and Robinson's home studios, includes the song Alexandra Leaving, a transformation of the poem The God Abandons Antony, by the Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy. The album was a major hit for Cohen in Canada and Europe, and he supported it with the hit single In My Secret Life and accompanying video shot by Floria Sigismondi. In October 2004, Cohen released Dear Heather, largely a musical collaboration with jazz chanteuse (and current romantic partner) Anjani Thomas, although Sharon Robinson returned to collaborate on three tracks (including a duet). As light as the previous album was dark, Dear Heather reflects Cohen's own change of mood - he has said in a number of interviews that his depression has lifted in recent years, which he attributed to Zen Buddhism. In an interview following his induction into the Canadian Songwriters' Hall of Fame, Cohen explained that the album was intended to be a kind of notebook or scrapbook of themes, and that a more formal record had been planned for release shortly afterwards, but that this was put on ice by his legal battles with his ex- manager. He decided not to promote the album at all, but in 2005 he released a home video accompanying the song Because Of, shot by his daughter Lorca Cohen, while there were no official album singles. Blue Alert, an album of songs co-written by Anjani and Cohen, was released on 23 May 2006 to positive reviews. Sung by Anjani, who according to one reviewer ...sounds like Cohen reincarnated as woman...though Cohen doesn't sing a note on the album, his voice permeates it like smoke. The album includes a recent musical setting of Cohen's As the mist leaves no scar, a poem originally published in The Spice-Box of Earth in 1961 and adapted by Phil Spector as True Love Leaves No Traces on Death of a Ladies' Man album. Blue Alert also included Anjani's own version of Nightingale, performed by her and Cohen on his Dear Heather, as well the country song Never Got to Love You, apparently made after an early demo version of Cohen's own 1992 song Closing Time. During the 2010 tour, Cohen was closing his live shows with the performance of Closing Time which included the recitation of verses from Never Got to Love You. The title song, Blue Alert, and Half the Perfect World were covered by Madeleine Peyroux on her 2006 album Half the Perfect World, while the third covered song, Crazy To Love You, was included in the albums Japanese edition. Before embarking on his 2008-2010 world tour, and without finishing the new album which has been in work since 2006 (new song, The Street, was recited by Cohen in 2006 on KCRW radio, and he also played two new songs from demo tape, Book of Longing and Puppets), Cohen contributed few tracks to other artists' albums - new version of his own Tower of Song was performed by him, Anjani Thomas and U2 in 2006 tribute film Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man (the video and track were included on the film's soundtrack and released as B-side of U2's single Window in the Skies, reaching No 1 in Canadian Singles Chart), in 2007 he recited The Sound of Silence on album Tribute to Paul Simon: Take Me to the Mardi Gras and The Jungle Line by Joni Mitchell, accompanied by Herbie Hancock on piano, on Hancock's Grammy-winning album River: The Joni Letters, while in 2008 he recited the poem Since You've Asked on album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins. 2005 bankruptcy On 8 October 2005, Cohen alleged that his longtime former manager, Kelley Lynch, misappropriated over US $5 million from Cohen's retirement fund leaving only $150,000. Cohen was sued in turn by other former business associates.  These events placed him in the public spotlight, including a cover feature on him with the headline Devastated! in Canada's Maclean's magazine. In March 2006, Cohen won a civil suit and was awarded US $9 million by a Los Angeles County superior court. Lynch, however, ignored the suit and did not respond to a subpoena issued for her financial records.  As a result it has been widely reported that Cohen may never be able to collect the awarded amount. In 2007, US. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock dismissed a claim by Cohen for more than US $4.5 million against Colorado investment firm Agile Group, and in 2008 he dismissed a defamation suit that Agile Group filed against Cohen. Cohen has been under new management since April 2005. Book of Longing Cohen's book of poetry and drawings, Book of Longing, was published in May 2006; in March a Toronto-based retailer offered signed copies to the first 1500 orders placed online. All 1500 sold within hours. The book quickly topped bestseller lists in Canada. Around the time of the release, RJ Smith wrote an essay about Cohen in Poetry magazine, in which he noted, The pieces in Book of Longing are casual, but never so casual that the old horndog doesn’t have muscle or bite.  On 13 May 2006, Cohen made his first public appearance in thirteen years, at an in-store event at a bookstore in Toronto. Approximately 3000 people turned up for the event, causing the streets surrounding the bookstore to be closed. He sang two of his earliest and best-known songs: So Long, Marianne and Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye, accompanied by the Barenaked Ladies and Ron Sexsmith. Also appearing with him was Anjani, the two promoting her new CD along with his book. In 2006, Philip Glass composed music to Cohen's 2006 book of poetry Book of Longing. Following the series of live performances which included Glass on keyboards, Cohen's recorded spoken text, four voices (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and bass-baritone), and other instruments, and as well the screenings of Cohen's artworks and drawings, Glass' label Orange Mountain Music released a double CD with the recording of the work, entitled Book of Longing. A Song Cycle based on the Poetry and Artwork of Leonard Cohen. 2008-2010 World Tour 2008 tour
2008 concert tour 13 January 2008, Cohen quietly announced a long-anticipated concert tour. The tour, Cohen's first in 15 years, began 11 May in Fredericton, New Brunswick to wide critical acclaim, and was extended until Winter of 2010. The schedule of the first leg in Summer of 2008 encompassed Canada and Europe, including performances at The Big Chill, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and on the Pyramid Stage at the 2008 Glastonbury Festival on 29 June 2008. His performance at Glastonbury was hailed by many as the highlight of the festival, and his performance of Hallelujah as the sun went down received a rapturous reception and a lengthy ovation from a packed Pyramid Stage field. He also played two shows in London's O2 Arena, and in Dublin he gave a milestone concert, while in Dublin he was the first performer to play an open air concert at IMMA (Royal Hospital Kilmainham) ground, performing there on 13, 14 and 15 June 2008. In 2009, the performances were awarded Ireland's Meteor Music Award as the best international performance of the year. In September, October and November 2008, Cohen gave a marathon tour of Europe, including stops in Austria, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Italy, Germany, and Scandinavia. In London, he played two more shows at the O2 Arena and two additional shows at the Royal Albert Hall. Live in London On 21 March 2009, Cohen released Live in London, recorded on 17 July 2008 at London's O2 Arena and released on DVD and as a two-CD set. The album contains 25 songs and is over two-and-a-half hours long. It was the first official DVD in Cohen's recording career. The quotation on the album referred to one hundred five-star reviews the tour gained in the international press in 2008. 2009 tour The third leg of Cohen's World Tour 2008-2009 encompassed New Zealand and Australia from 20 January to 10 February 2009. In January 2009, The Pacific Tour first came to New Zealand. Simon Sweetman in The Dominion Post (Wellington) of 21 January wrote It is hard work having to put this concert in to words so I'll just say something I have never said in a review before and will never say again: this was the best show I have ever seen. The Sydney Entertainment Centre show on 28 January sold out rapidly, which motivated promoters to announce a second show at the venue. The first performance was well-received, and the audience of 12,000 responded with five standing ovations. In response to hearing about the devastation to the Yarra Valley region of Victoria in Australia, Cohen donated $200,000 to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal in support of those affected by the extensive Black Saturday bushfires that razed the area just weeks after his performance at the Rochford Winery in the A Day on the Green concert.  Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper reported: Tour promoter Frontier Touring said $200,000 would be donated on behalf of Cohen, fellow performer Paul Kelly and Frontier to aid victims of the bushfires. On 19 February 2009, Cohen played his first American concert in fifteen years at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. The show, showcased as the special performance for fans, Leonard Cohen Forum members and press, was the only show in the whole three-year tour which was broadcast on the radio (NPR) and available as the free podcast. The North American Tour of 2009 opened on 1 April and included the performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday, 17 April 2009, in front of one of the largest outdoor theatre crowds in the history of the festival. His performance of Hallelujah was widely regarded as one of the highlights of the festival, thus repeating the major success of the 2008 Glastonbury appearance. The performance has been included on 2010 Songs from the Road live release. During this leg, Cohen regularly performed new song, Lullaby. On 1 July 2009, Cohen started his marathon European tour, his third in two years. The itinerary mostly included sport arenas and open air Summer festivals in Germany, UK, France, Spain, Ireland (the show at O2 in Dublin won him the second Meteor Music Award in a row), but also performances in Serbia in the Belgrade Arena, in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, and again in Romania. On 3 August, Cohen gave an open air show at the Piazza San Marco in Venice. On 18 September 2009, on the stage at a concert in Valencia, Spain, Cohen suddenly fainted halfway through performing his song Bird on the Wire, the fourth in the two-act set list; Cohen was brought down backstage by his band members and then admitted to local hospital, while the concert was suspended. It was reported that Cohen had stomach problems, and possibly food poisoning. Three days later, on 21 September, on his 75th birthday, he performed in Barcelona. The show, last in Europe in 2009 and rumoured to be the last European concert ever, attracted many international fans, who lighted the green candles honouring Cohen's birthday, leading Cohen to give a special speech of thanks for the fans and Leonard Cohen Forum. The most controversial concert during the whole tour was the last concert of this leg, held in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 24 September, three days after Cohen's 75th birthday, at Ramat Gan Stadium. The event was surrounded by public discussion due to a cultural boycott of Israel proposed by a number of musicians. Nevertheless, tickets for the Tel Aviv concert, Cohen's first performance in Israel since 1980, sold out in less than 24 hours. It was announced that the proceeds from the sale of the 47,000 tickets would go into a charitable fund in partnership with Amnesty International and would be used by Israeli and Palestinian peace groups for projects providing health services to children and bringing together Israeli veterans and former Palestinian fighters and the families of those killed in the conflict. However, on 17 August 2009, Amnesty International released a statement saying they were withdrawing from any involvement with the concert and its proceeds. Amnesty International later stated that its withdrawal was not due to the boycott but the lack of support from Israeli and Palestinian NGOs. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) led the call for the boycott, claiming that Cohen was intent on whitewashing Israel's colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel. On 24 September at the Ramat Gan concert, Cohen was highly emotional about the Israeli- Palestinian NGO Bereaved Families for Peace. He mentioned the organization twice, saying It was a while ago that I first heard of the work of the 'Bereaved Parents for Peace'. That there was this coalition of Palestinian and Israeli families who had lost so much in the conflict and whose depth of suffering had compelled them to reach across the border into the houses of the enemy. Into the houses of those, to locate them who had suffered as much as they had, and then to stand with them in aching confraternity, a witness to an understanding that is beyond peace and that is beyond confrontation. So, this is not about forgiving and forgetting, this is not about laying down one's arms in a time of war, this is not even about peace, although, God willing, it could be a beginning. This is about a response to human grief. A radical, unique and holy, holy, holy response to human suffering. Baruch Hashem, thank God, I bow my head in respect to the nobility of this enterprise. At the end of the show he blessed the crowd by the Priestly Blessing, a Jewish blessing offered by Kohanim. Cohen's surname derives from this Hebrew word for priest, thus identifying him as a Kohen. The sixth leg of the 2008-2009 world tour went again to US, with fifteen shows in October and November, with the final show in San Jose. The final leg included two new songs, Feels So Good and The Darkness. But at that point, Cohen's World Tour 2010 was already announced with the European dates in March. The 2009 world tour earned a reported $9.5 million, putting Cohen at number 39 on Billboard magazine's list of the year's top musical money makers. Live releases On 14 September 2010, Sony Music released a live CD/DVD album, Songs from the Road, showcasing Cohen's 2008 and 2009 live performances. The previous year, Cohen's performance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Music Festival was released as a CD/DVD combo. The DVD version included interviews with Kris Kristofferson and others. 2010 tour Cohen's 2008-2009 world tour was prolonged into 2010. Originally scheduled to start in March, the first dozen of the original European dates were postponed to September and October due to Cohen's lower-back injury. Officially billed as the World Tour 2010, the tour started on 25 July 2010 in Arena Zagreb, Croatia, where in the week of the show 16 of Cohen's albums simultaneously entered the Croatian Top 40,  while Cohen's work was presented by the translation of Book of Mercy, two of Cohen's biographies, and with selection of poems in major literary magazine Quorum, while there was also the translation of Linda Hutcheon's work on Cohen's literary output. In December 2010, the national daily newspaper Vjesnik ranked Cohen's show among the five most important cultural event in Croatia in 2010, in the poll among dozen of intellectuals and writers; it was the only event ranked which was not actually Croatian. The tour continued through August, with stops in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia, and Ireland, where on 31 July 2010 Cohen performed at Lissadell House in County Sligo. It was Cohen’s eighth Irish concert in just two years after a hiatus of more than 20 years. On 12 August, Cohen played the 200th show of the tour in Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden, where he had already played in October 2008; the show was four hours long. The Fall leg of the European tour started in early September with an open-air show in Florence, Italy, and continued through Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and Austria, where Cohen performed at the famous open-air opera stage of Römersteinbruch bei St. Margarethen im Burgenland, and then continued with dates in France, Poland, Russia (Moscow's State Kremlin Palace), Slovenia and Slovakia. In Slovenia's brand new Arena Stožice, Cohen accepted Croatia's Porin music award for best foreign live video programme, which he won for his Live in London DVD. Cohen's last European show was held in Sibamac Arena, in Bratislava, Slovakia. The shows in late September and October were performed without Sharon Robinson, who left this tour leg due to heavy illness; the setlist omitted songs co- written by her, but old Cohen standards were added instead. The third leg of the 2010 tour started on 28 October in New Zealand and continued in Australia, including an open-air concert at Hanging Rock near Melbourne. It was the first show ever organised at the site. The tour finished with seven special dates added in Vancouver, Portland, Victoria and Oakland, with two final shows in Las Vegas' The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on 10 and 11 December. The very last concert on 11 December was the 246th show on the world tour which started on 11 May 2008. The world tour 2010 was covered daily on the Flickr photo blog which was edited by Cohen's road manager, entitled Notes from the Road. 2010s In August 2011, Cohen completed work on the studio album, Old Ideas, with producer Ed Sanders. The album was released on 27 January 2012. The lyric for the song Going Home was originally published as a poem in The New Yorker magazine in January 2012, prior to the record's release. The album received uniformly positive reviews from publications like Rolling Stone, the Chicago Tribune, and The Guardian. At a record release party for the album in January 2012, Cohen spoke with The New York Times reporter Jon Pareles who states that mortality was very much on his mind and in his songs [on this album]. Pareles goes to characterize the album as an autumnal album, musing on memories and final reckonings, but it also has a gleam in its eye. It grapples once again with topics Mr. Cohen has pondered throughout his career: love, desire, faith, betrayal, redemption. Some of the diction is biblical; some is drily sardonic. Hallelujah Main article: Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen song) Hallelujah was first released on Cohen's studio album Various Positions in 1984. While initially the song had limited success it found greater popular acclaim through a cover by John Cale in 1991, which later formed the basis for a cover by Jeff Buckley. In recent years Hallelujah has been performed by almost 200 artists in various languages. Statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); the Canadian Recording Industry Association; the Australian Recording Industry Association; and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry show that, prior to late 2008, more than five million copies of the song sold in compact-disc format. It has been the subject of a BBC Radio documentary and been featured in the soundtracks of numerous films and television programs. Themes
Recurring themes in Cohen's work include love, sex, religion, depression, and music itself. He has also engaged with certain political themes, though sometimes ambiguously so. Suzanne mixes a wistful type of love song with a religious meditation, themes that are also mixed in Joan of Arc. Famous Blue Raincoat is from the point of view of a man whose marriage has been broken by his wife's infidelity with his close friend, and is written in the form of a letter to that friend. Everybody Knows 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 is Jewish, and he has drawn from Jewish religious and cultural imagery throughout his career. Examples include Story of Isaac, and Who by Fire, the words and melody of which echo the Unetaneh Tokef, an 11th-century liturgical poem recited on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Broader Jewish themes sound throughout the album Various Positions. Hallelujah, which has music as a secondary theme, begins by evoking the biblical King David composing a song that pleased the Lord and continues with references to Bathsheba and Samson. The lyrics of Whither Thou Goest, performed by him and released in his album Live in London, are adapted from the Bible (Ruth 1:16-17, King James Version). If It Be Your Will also has a strong air of religious resignation. Having suffered from depression during much of his life (although less so recently), Cohen has written much (especially in his early work) about depression and suicide. Beautiful Losers and Seems So Long Ago, Nancy are about suicide; darkly comic One of Us Cannot Be Wrong mentions suicide; Dress Rehearsal Rag is about a last-minute decision not to commit suicide. An atmosphere of depression pervades Please Don't Pass Me By and Tonight Will Be Fine. As in the aforementioned Hallelujah, music itself is the subject of Tower of Song, A Singer Must Die, and Jazz Police. Themes of political and social justice also recur in Cohen's work, especially in later albums. In Democracy, he both acknowledges political problems and celebrates the hopes of reformers: from the wars against disorder/ from the sirens night and day/ from the fires of the homeless/ and the ashes of the gay/ Democracy is coming to the USA. He has made the observation in Tower of Song that the rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor/ And there's a mighty judgment coming. In the title track of The Future he recasts this prophecy on a pacifist note: I've seen the nations rise and fall/ …/ But love's the only engine of survival. In Anthem, he promises that the killers in high places [who] say their prayers out loud/ [are] gonna hear from me. War is an enduring theme of Cohen's work that��in his earlier songs and early life��he approached ambivalently. Challenged in 1974 over his serious demeanor in concerts and the military salutes he ended them with, Cohen remarked, I sing serious songs, and I'm serious onstage because I couldn't do it any other way...I don't consider myself a civilian. I consider myself a soldier, and that's the way soldiers salute. In Field Commander Cohen he imagines himself as a soldier of sorts, socializing with Fidel Castro in Cuba��where he had actually visited at the height of US-Cuba tensions in 1961, allegedly sporting a Che Guevara-style beard and military fatigues. This song was written immediately following Cohen's front-line stint with the Israeli air force, the fighting in Egypt documented in a passage of Night Comes On. In 1973, Cohen, who had traveled to Jerusalem to sign up on the Israeli side in the Yom Kippur War, had instead been assigned to a USO-style entertainer tour of front-line tank emplacements in the Sinai Desert, coming under fire. Deeply moved by encounters with Israeli and Arab soldiers, he left the country to write Lover Lover Lover. This song has been interpreted as a personal renunciation of armed conflict, and ends with the hope his song will serve a listener as a shield against the enemy. He would later remark, 'Lover, Lover, Lover' was born over there; the whole world has its eyes riveted on this tragic and complex conflict. Then again, I am faithful to certain ideas, inevitably. I hope that those of which I am in favour will gain. Asked which side he supported in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Cohen responded, I don't want to speak of wars or sides ... Personal process is one thing, it's blood, it's the identification one feels with their roots and their origins. The militarism I practice as a person and a writer is another thing.... I don't wish to speak about war. His recent politics continue a lifelong predilection for the underdog, the beautiful loser. Whether recording The Partisan, a French Resistance song by Anna Marly and Emmanuel d'Astier, or singing his own The Old Revolution, written from the point of view of a defeated royalist, he has throughout his career expressed in his music sympathy and support for the oppressed. Although Cohen's fascination with war is often as a metaphor for more general cultural and personal issues, as in New Skin for the Old Ceremony, by this measure his most militant album. Cohen blends pessimism about political/cultural issues with humour and, especially in his later work, with gentle acceptance. His wit contends with his stark analysis as his songs are often verbally playful and cheerful. In Tower of Song the famously raw-voiced Cohen sings ironically that he was born with the gift of a golden voice. The generally dark Is This What You Wanted? contains playful lines You were the whore and the beast of Babylon/ I was Rin Tin Tin. In concert he often plays around with his lyrics (If you want a doctor/ I'll examine every inch of you from I'm Your Man sometimes becomes If you want a Jewish doctor...). He may introduce one song by using a phrase from another song or poem��for example, introducing Leaving Green Sleeves by paraphrasing his own Queen Victoria, This is a song for those who are not nourished by modern love. Cohen has also recorded such love songs as Irving Berlin's Always or the more obscure soul number Be for Real (originally sung by Marlena Shaw). Personal life
Romantic relationships Cohen had a relationship beginning in the 1970s with the Los Angeles artist Suzanne Elrod, with whom he has two children: a son, Adam, born in 1972, and a daughter, Lorca, named after poet Federico Garc�-a Lorca, born in 1974. Adam Cohen began a career as a singer-songwriter in the mid-1990s and fronts a band called Low Millions, while Lorca took the part in her father's tour team during the 2008-2010 world tour as photographer and videographer. She also shot Cohen's video for the song Because Of in 2004, while her Backstage Sketch was included on Cohen's 2010 DVD Songs from the Road. She has directed and shot video clips for The Webb Sisters and Kamila Thompson. On 2 February 2011, Lorca gave birth to a daughter, Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen. The father of the child is Rufus Wainwright. Cohen has downplayed marriage as an important relationship, and has said that cowardice and fear have prevented him from ever actually marrying Elrod. Elrod took the cover photograph on Cohen's Live Songs album and is pictured on the cover of the Death of a Ladies' Man album. She is also the Dark Lady of Cohen's 1978 book of poems, prose and diary entries Death of a Lady's Man, the book which deals with the failed marriage (hence the cover, which shows medieval coniunctio spiritual) and which was started as the novel about the spiritual and emotional failure of marriage, invariantly titled The Woman Being Born, and My Life in Art. Cohen and Elrod had split by 1979. Suzanne, one of his best-known songs, refers to Suzanne Verdal, the former wife of his friend, the Québécois sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, rather than Elrod. The 1979 song The Gypsy Wife is supposedly about Suzanne Elrod. In the 1980s, Cohen was in a relationship with the French photographer Dominique Issermann, who shot his first two video clips, Dance Me To The End Of Love and First We Take Manhattan. Issermann is today famous for her photo sessions with Carla Bruni and for her fashion photography for magazines like Elle; in 2010 she was the official photographer of Cohen's world tour. Her photographs of Cohen are the canonical in Cohen's merchandise, and some of them were used for the covers of his 1993 book Stranger Music and his album More Best of Leonard Cohen, and inside the booklet of Cohen's 1988 record I'm Your Man, which is dedicated to Issermann with words: All these songs are for you, D. I.. In the 1990s, Cohen was romantically linked to actress Rebecca De Mornay. De Mornay co-produced Cohen's 1992 album The Future, which is also supposedly dedicated to her with an inscription which quotes Rebecca's coming to the well from Book of Genesis, 24 and giving drink to Eliezer's camels, after he prayed for the help; Eliezer (God is my help in Hebrew) is Cohen's Hebrew name, and Cohen sometimes referred to himself as Eliezer Cohen or even Jikan Eliezer. In 2000s, Cohen has been romantically involved with Anjani Thomas. Together they wrote the album Blue Alert in 2006, produced by Cohen. Thomas co-produced and co-wrote some songs on Cohen's 2004 album Dear Heather and is currently involved in recording of Cohen's forthcoming record. Religious beliefs and practices Cohen is described as an observant Jew in an article in The New York Times: Mr. Cohen keeps the Sabbath even while on tour and performed for Israeli troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. So how does he square that faith with his continued practice of Zen? Allen Ginsberg asked me the same question many years ago, he said. Well, for one thing, in the tradition of Zen that I've practiced, there is no prayerful worship and there is no affirmation of a deity. So theologically there is no challenge to any Jewish belief. Cohen has been involved with Buddhism since the 1970s and was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1996; however he is still religiously Jewish: I'm not looking for a new religion. I'm quite happy with the old one, with Judaism. In his concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, on 24 September 2009, Cohen spoke Jewish prayers and blessings to the audience in Hebrew. He opened the show with the first sentence of Ma Tovu. At the middle he used Baruch Hashem, and he ended the concert reciting the blessing of Birkat Cohanim. Since late 1970s, Cohen has been associated with the Buddhist monk and teacher Kyozan Joshu Sasaki, regularly visiting him at Mount Baldy Zen Center and serving him as personal assistant during Cohen's own reclusion into Mt. Baldy monastery in the 1990s. Roshi appears as regular motif or addressee in Cohen's poetry, especially in the Book of Longing, and also took part in 1997 documentary about Cohen's monastery years, Leonard Cohen: Spring 1996. Cohen's 2001 album Ten New Songs is dedicated to Joshu Sasaki.
- Live in London by Nenad Georgievski