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Leonard Cohen Biography


Home > Music > C > Cohen, Leonard > Biography


Birth Name: Leonard Norman Cohen
Born: 1934/09/21
Birth Place: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Years Active: 1956 - present
Genres: Folk, Folk Rock, Rock


Leonard Cohen, CC, GOQ (born Leonard Norman Cohen, September 21, 1934) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. His work often deals with the exploration of religion, isolation, sexuality and interpersonal relationships. Famously reclusive, having once spent several years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, and possessing a persona frequently associated with mystique, he is extremely well-regarded by critics for his literary accomplishments, for the richness of his lyrics, and for producing an output of work of high artistic quality over a five-decade career.

Musically, Cohen's earliest songs were rooted in European folk music. In the 1970s, his material encompassed pop, cabaret and world music. Since the 1980s, his high baritone voice has evolved into lower registers (bass baritone and bass), with accompaniment from a wide variety of instruments and female backup singers.

Over 2,000 renditions of Cohen's songs have been recorded. Some of his best known songs include “Suzanne,” “Bird on the Wire,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “Everybody Knows,” “Take This Waltz,” and the often covered “Hallelujah”

Cohen has released 12 studio albums and six live albums during the course of a recording career lasting over 40 years, throughout which he has remained an active poet. All of his releases have been on Columbia Records.

The period from the late 1960s to the late 1970s was a prolific one for Cohen, lasting from his acclaimed 1967 debut “Songs of Leonard Cohen” until 1979’s “Recent Songs.” In the decades since, his output has been more intermittent, including a nine-year hiatus between 1992’s “The Future” and 2001’s “Ten New Songs.”

In 2012 he released his first album in seven years, “Old Ideas” which went to #1 in his native Canada and reached #3 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

Cohen has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. In 2008 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.