There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in
Although Leonard Cohen is best remembered as the singer-songwriter who penned Hallelujah, one of the most popular and oft covered songs of the past century, he was also a prolific poet and novelist.
Born in Canada to a Jewish family, his earliest interests in school were in both music and poetry, particularly the poetry of Federico García Lorca, a Spanish national who was executed for his political views by Franco’s nationalists during the Spanish Civil War.
Known for his dark, poetic lyrics, and his explorations of love, loss, isolation, religion and sexuality, Cohen did not pursue a career in music for more than a decade after leaving school, instead attempting to become known as a novelist and poet from the early fifties until 1967. He moved into music full time after performing a song which was overheard by singer Judy Collins.
Cohen found huge success in the 1970s, performing and touring across the world, his dark but often ironic lyricism enthralling the public. It was in 1984 that his best known song Hallelujah was released, but not to instant acclaim. It wasn’t until covers by John Cale, and later Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright, that the song became the phenomenon it is today. Since 1991 it is estimated that it has been covered by over 300 artists.
Leonard Cohen died in 2016, aged 82, and was buried according to Jewish burial customs in his birth town of Montreal.