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Leonard Cohen

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.[1] 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.[3] [4] 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."[5] Cohen attended Westmount High School, beginning in 1948 where he was involved with the Student Council and studied music and poetry.[6] He became especially interested in the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca.[6] 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."[6] [edit]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.[6] His literary influences during this time included William Butler Yeats, Irving Layton, Walt Whitman, Federico Garcia Lorca and Henry Miller.[7] 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.[6] The famous and influential Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye wrote a review of the book in which he gave Cohen "restrained praise." [6] 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".[8] 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.'"[6] 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.[6] 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.[6] 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".[citation needed] 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 [9][10] 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."[11] In 2011, Cohen was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for literature. [edit]Recording career

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Steven Blane
guitar, acoustic
Martin Fabricius Trio
band/orchestra
Gabriel Judet-Weinshel
composer/conductor

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Leonard Cohen: You...

Columbia Records
2016

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Live in London

Music On Vinyl
2015

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Leonard Cohen:...

Columbia Records
2014

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Leonard Cohen: Old...

Columbia Records
2012

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Live in London

Music On Vinyl
2008

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Blossoms Of Heaven,...

Uuquipleu Records
1998

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