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August Interviews

8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime

8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It

8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen

8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many

August Guest Bloggers

8/8 Leslie Wheeler

8/15 Jean Rabe

August Interviews

8/22 Kait Carson

8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Death of Leonard Cohen

On November 11th, I woke to the news on NPR of the death of Leonard Cohen, one of my favorite singer songwriters. Apparently he died on November 7th, at the age of eighty-two, but his family didn’t release the news of his death until the 10th. I’m guessing they waited until the election and its aftermath was over. I thought I’d play his music all day, but then realized it would only hurt worse. Instead, I went online and read more about him and listened and watched a lot of videos of him there, too. I have a two CD album Live in London from a concert he did in July 2008. I watched it on PBS, and then ordered the CD. I’ll not only listen to it over the next few days, but I plan on ordering more of his albums. Especially You Want it Darker, the latest that just came out last month. Apparently the songs have words showing he’s ready to pass on.

I heard a recent short interview with him a week or two before he died. He didn’t mention it in his interview, but I guess he was suffering from a lot of back problems, and apparently other problems. His son Adam worked with him to get You Want It Darker published.

Louise Penny liked him, too, and named her eighth book How the Light Gets In from an excerpt from his poem/song “Anthem.” She first used the stanza in her second book, and when she contacted him to see if she could use it and how much she’d have to pay, he said she could have it for free. The most quoted line of his from his song is “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

As I wrote in a previous blog about the death of Pete Seeger, I’m a big fan of folk music. Much of it is upbeat and cheerful, but Cohen’s songs were more serious and had a lot of depth. Of course, especially in the sixties there were a lot of folk songs against the Viet Nam war and others of a serious nature, too.

Probably Cohen’s best known song is Hallelujah. I heard and read somewhere it took him years and years to write this song. In fact, he kept writing more and more stanzas for this before he finally settled on the ones he put on his album. A lot of other singers sang the song, too, and some used different stanzas with his permission. His songs are serious and have a lot of depth. Many of his songs are based on the poems he wrote.

A lot of singers have sung his songs. In fact, he was very generous in agreeing to it. His song Suzanne became a hit when Judy Collins sang it. She eventually recorded other Cohen songs. too. I have her album singing Suzanne.

Cohen was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. He was born in Westmount, Quebec to a well-to-do Jewish family. In his early years, he was more of a poet before turning to music. He won numerous awards for his poetry.

Although he didn’t turn away from the Jewish faith, he also explored other faiths. In 1994 he went to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles, and stayed there in seclusion for five years. Cohen was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk.

When he returned, he found out his long-time manager, had ripped off most of his money including almost five million dollars from his retirement fund. It was probably why he decided to start touring.

From 2008 to 2010, he began going on world tours, and discovered large audiences that loved him. Tickets to his large concerts always sold out. In those concerts Hallelujah was always one of the favorites.  The album from the London concert has twenty six songs, and if both CD’s are played, it lasts two and a half hours.

Just a few of my many, many CDs

I watch very little TV. Instead I read and listen to music. The only problem I have playing his CD’s are his songs are so rich in meaning that I tend to stop reading just to listen to his voice and the words.

A few of my favorite songs of his although there are many are Hallelujah, Anthem, Tower of Song, Everybody Knows, Suzanne, So Long Marianne and Ain’t No Cure for Love. Of course, there are others I like, too, but I’m not going to list them all.

He is just one more of the singers I love, who have passed on: Pete Seeger, Odetta, Paul Robeson, John Hartford, Johnny Cash, Jean Redpath, and Pavarotti. I know there are some others I’m forgetting, too. The good thing is that their music lives on so I can still listen to them. Meanwhile I plan to order some of the albums I don’t have as well as books of his poetry.

Do you like the music of Leonard Cohen?
What other singers have you liked that passed on?


Kait Carson said...

Cohen was part of the soundtrack of my college years. Bird on a wire is on of my favorites it came to mind as soon as I saw his obituary. I think the album bore the same name. Not sure though. Thank you for sharing memories of him.

KM Rockwood said...

I'm just glad that we now have a way to preserve the talents of singers and musicians. For centuries, their sounds died with them, although of course written musical scores were available for future generations.

It's a sad fact of life that none of us live forever. (Although I'm somewhat convinced that somehow an exception will be made in my case!)

Jim Jackson said...

As a youth, I maintained that the generations best poets were its songwriters: Cohen, Dylan, Mitchell, even Paul Simon – and that they used an aural medium rather than printed page for much of their work.

~ Jim

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

"Suzanne" "The sun pours down like honey" is a lyric that I carry with me, especially during glorious autumn days.

Gloria Alden said...

Kait, I didn't go to college until I was much older, but in the sixties, I started listening to folk singers then and still do. I'm lucky enough to live within driving distance of Happy Days Lodge in Cuyahoga National Park, that brings in folk musicians from Sept through April.They are not extremely popular, but are from all around the country and the British Isles.

KM. That made me laugh. I'd like to think that, too.

Jim, I like all the singers you mentioned, too. Paul Simon was on Prairie Home Companion
earlier this year. I usually just listen to it, but that night I watched it on the computer. I was surprised at how short he is. He still has a great voice.

Margaret, I like that song, too. Last night I listened to Judy Collins singing it. She also has a beautiful voice and I love the album I have of her.

Warren Bull said...

He was a singer whose music I liked. You could seriously listen to his lyrics. I miss him and Pete.

LD Masterson said...

So many of the good ones have left us. I was a life long fan of Peter, Paul & Mary and it broke my heart when Mary Travers died.

Shari Randall said...

What a rough year for favorite artists. Cohen's lyrics are wonderful. I've heard many people sing his songs, especially "Hallelujah" but his voice made the lyrics richer. I love that Louise Penny quotes him in her work.

Ann G said...

I loved Cohen's music too, Gloria. I've been listening to the albums this week, and I too have just ordered the latest one.

That quotation from Anthem will always be a favourite, but there are too many brilliant songs to mention. "Who by fire" is also a favourite.

There are so many covers of Hallelujah, as Shari says. As well as his own version, I love the Jeff Buckley one which was used in The West Wing, and the one by John Cale.


But yes, his own version has that something extra.

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, you're so right. I miss Pete Seeger, too. I saw Seeger in concert several times.

LD. O forgot to mention Peter, Paul and Mary. Oh, how I loved them and their music.

Shari, his lyrics are wonderful - so much insight. And you're right about how much his voice made the song "Hallelujah" especially so much richer. Louise Penny is Canadian like he was.

Ann, there's no way I could have listed all the songs of his I enjoy on my blog. Thanks for the link to the blog. I'll have to go there and listen to it, too.

Henri said...

He is a legend, I often take his songs as ringtones. That's great

Anonymous said...

He is a talent and will always be in everyone's heart with great music

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