Nov 112016

"Hallelujah" Poet Leonard Cohen Has Died

Leonard Cohen, the revered Canadian singer, songwriter, artist, poet and novelist has died at 82. Intensely original, compared to Bob Dylan and James Joyce but second to none, Cohen created a style / genre all his own.

Born on September 21st 1934 in Montreal, Canada, Cohen died on November 10th 2016 in Los Angeles, at the age of 82. He was a Jew from a well-to-do family who spent several years as a Zen Buddhist monk… He loved spectacular women but never got married. In the course of his life, Cohen earned a fortune but found himself forced to work and tour till the end because his one-time partner decimated his retirement funds and even though Cohen won the case in court he couldn’t collect the money awarded to him by the court. Just these few examples suggest that Leonard Cohen led a colorful albeit not uncomplicated life. Complicated lives of creative – and talented! – people produce wonderful art. It is definitely true of Cohen.

Best known in the United States as a singer / songwriter, Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, “Suzanne” and other songs became classics. Among his studio albums are:

  • Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
  • Songs from a Room (1969)
  • Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
  • New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974)
  • Death of a Ladies’ Man (1977)
  • Recent Songs (1979)
  • Various Positions (1984)
  • I’m Your Man (1988)
  • The Future (1992)
  • Ten New Songs (2001)
  • Dear Heather (2004)
  • Old Ideas (2012)
  • Popular Problems (2014)
  • You Want It Darker (2016)

Cohen’s accomplishments as a singer / songwriter earned many recognitions. Among them are Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Canadian government bestowed upon him the title of an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991, and eventually upgraded it in 2003 to the rank of Companion of the Order in 2003.

In July of this year, Leonard Cohen learned that his once-love Marianne Ihlen (whom he has immortalized in “So Long, Marianne”) was dying. Upon learning of her impending demise, Cohen wrote a moving poem for her in which he mentioned that he will follow her soon. How prophetic.

A Facebook post on Leonard Cohen’s page says:
“It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away.
We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.
A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted:
“No other artist’s music felt or sounded like Leonard Cohen’s. Yet his work resonated across generations. Canada and the world will miss him.”

Huge outpouring of condolences from artists and notables worldwide continues.

The man who once said: “I intend to live for ever.” is gone. His children, several women, many friends and even more fans are in mourning. Leonard Cohen lived, felt, thought and created. He generously shared his thoughts and feelings through his poetry. His thoughts on life and death, love and religion and other existential topics enriched us all and remain relevant.




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Oct 152016

Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize

Anti-establishment bard Bob Dylan earns recognition of the usually conservative Nobel Committee and is awarded 2016 Nobel Prize for literature

The icon of American pop music is the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
Surprisingly, his win stirred a lot of controversy in the United States. (Some don’t think he deserves a Nobel Prize and some are actually urging Dylan to reject the honor!)

There are words and there is relevance. Bob Dylan is the voice of a generation whose feelings he identified, expressed and interpreted like few others. He captured the essence of our times. His songs resonate with us not only because of their music, or Dylan’s voice, but the lyrics (some thought-provoking, some re-affirming) that express his – and our! – thoughts.

There is literature and there is the ability to share one’s writing. Literature always had – and especially today, has – limited reach. Bob Dylan “disguised” his writing as pop culture and reached wider audience than most best-selling authors.

Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota. His fascination with music started already in high school, but it wasn’t until college that he started forming bands of his own and performing under the name “Bob Dillon” (he took on the last name of the main character in Gunsmoke). It wasn’t until later that his original stage name evolved into “Bob Dylan”.

Dylan’s first musical love was folk music. Country songs have earned him his first recording deal back in 1961. That’s how it all started, Dylan grew and evolved over time becoming one of the most influential voices in folk rock and eventually the one of a kind original – above and beyond any conventional genre – that we know today.

His music generated in turn praise and contempt of music critics. For the rest of us Blowin’ in the Wind, It’s Alright, Mr Tambourine Man, Love Minus Zero / No Limit, Don’t Think Twice, Like a Rolling Stone, Idiot Wind, It’s a Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, Jokerman, Tangled Up in Blue and many others became the soundtracks of our lives.

By pairing unpretentious manner with profound wisdom, Bob Dylon became a star. He took on universal truths, social issues, social justice, along with controversial topics of the 60s and 70s and found a way to “interpret” them through his poetry.

If the measure of a poet’s success is influence, Bob Dylon has no competition among poets. One of Bob Dylan’s best known sayings is “What’s so bad about being misunderstood?”. The recognition of Bob Dylan’s poetry by the Nobel Committee suggests that he is not only understood but appreciated, even by the conservative establishment he once sought to fight.

The usually conservative Nobel Committee recognized the merit of Bob Dylan’s intellect, talent and – we suspect – ability to expand the appeal of well-written word beyond that of conventional literature. Anything L.A. Magazine congratulates the Nobel Committee on its thoughtful choice AND Bob Dylan on a well-deserved recognition.

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Entertainment Editor / I. Sturm



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