Leonard Cohen is a genius, bona fide living legend, and a breathing monument to songwriting as a timeless art.
Known by all lovers and students of song, the man is known – and has seemingly allowed himself to be known – through his seemingly confessional and spiritually naked lyricism, yet still somehow Cohen maintains the inscrutable quality of the Sphinx.
For example, as chock full of details as “Famous Blue Raincoat” is, I’d be hard pressed to tell you what it’s about exactly. But it doesn’t matter, as I know (and love) how it makes me feel every single time I hear it.
It’s possible that this quality is also what makes his songs completely malleable and of infinite interest to other singers/songwriters. It’s rumored that there are over 1,500 covers of his devastating “Hallelujah” alone.
And then there are countless compilations of covers, in various languages, with everyone from Nina Simone to Bon Jovi giving voice to Cohen’s words. Regardless of the artist and version, Cohen’s words maintain a romantic weariness that is always undoubtedly his.
It’s remarkable. And it’s remarkable that he is still writing and performing new works and inspiring artists to continue writing as long as they have something to say.
In advance of his upcoming sold out show presented by KCRW at Club Nokia, and in honor of his singular “voice,” I’ve put together a handful of recent Cohen covers and my personal all-time favorite Cohen cover (“Coming Back to You” as performed by Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore.)
Martin Gore: “Coming Back To You”
Bill Callahan: “So Long, Marianne”
Suzanne Vega: “Story of Isaac”
Lemonheads (ft. Liv Tyler): “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”
Beck & MGMT: “Suzanne”