A Well Burnt Candle | Leonard Cohen

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“We’re sure you’ve heard the news: Leonard Cohen has just died aged 82. Cohen was a singular singer, songwriter and poet, who was loved, but not often celebrated, for his piercing and pain stricken lyrics. He is now among a number of musical legends who’ve faced the final curtain this past year, namely Prince and David Bowie. According to the first reports he passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles. Since the news spread his loyal fans have been laying flowers and lighting candles throughout the city, commemorating his influence over their lives. Fans also arranged candles outside Cohen’s native home in Montreal, Canada. The young Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, was one of the first world figures to offer his condolences and show respect with an official statement:

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of the legendary Leonard Cohen,” said the Prime Minister, “He will be fondly remembered for his gruff vocals, his self-deprecating humour and the haunting lyrics that made his songs the perennial favourite of so many generations.”

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Cohen released his first studio album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, in 1967 and has been known as a poet ever since, trained through his formative years at McGill University in Montreal. The impact of his lines is as indelible as the genius of their author is undeniable. Here are five of our favourites over the years:

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

“Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.”

“A woman watches her body uneasily, as though it were an unreliable ally in the battle for love.”

“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.”

Perhaps his best-known work, the guttural lament “Hallelujah”, will be carried down through generations of music fans. It remains one of the most covered songs in history consisting of 80 heart-shattering verses that inspired around 300 covers, including that of fellow singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley (1994) – a wonderful testimony to the enduring legacy of this great poet.


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