To put it bluntly, 2016 has been, well, the worst. From terror attacks, to mass shootings, to police shootings, to floods, to earthquakes, to the presidential election, it’s been a long, sad year. To top it all off, 2016 saw the deaths of so many talented and iconic figures, particularly in the music world.
The death of David Bowie in January was, right off the bat, a sign of bad things to come. Glenn Frey, Maurice White, Merle Haggard, Prince and Christina Grimmie all followed in succession, a chain of tragic news that, at the time, seemed like it would never end. The next few months came and went without any more notable passings — until Nov. 7.
That was the day Leonard Cohen passed away at the age of 82. The Canadian singer-songwriter had an impressive career spanning decades, but is most remembered for his song “Hallelujah,” featured in the movie Shrek and several others, and covered by artists such as Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley.
Though the stirring ballad is his best known, Cohen has plenty of other work that deserves recognition. Here are ten songs of his that need more love.
- “So Long, Marianne” — This track, off Cohen’s first studio album, is a folky farewell to a lover who attempts to cover its dejection with a catchy chorus. The female backing vocals make the goodbye sound almost cheerful, and encourage listeners to sing along.
- “Bird on the Wire” — In this ode to freedom, Cohen uses similes and confessions to express his desire for release. His wistful vocals paired with violin strings make you feel his longing right along with him.
- “Tonight Will Be Fine” — There’s no real substance to this song, and that’s okay. A break from other solemn tracks, it showcases a softer, almost cutesy side to Cohen that’s not often seen. Complete with “ba-da-da”s and whistles, it doesn’t get much sweeter than this.
- “Chelsea Hotel #2” — “We are ugly but we have the music.” Cohen’s tale of an encounter he had with Janis Joplin at the famed Hotel Chelsea is a matter-of-fact look into his private life, but doesn’t sacrifice good melodies for a good story.
- “Lover Lover Lover” — Anyone who’s gone through a difficult breakup will recognize the spirit of desperation present throughout this song, as Cohen pleads with his love to return to him. The repetitiveness of the chorus drills the sentiment into your mind, in a way that’s urgent rather than irritating.
- “Iodine” — The saxophone on this song alone makes it a classic. Though the album on which it appeared, Death of a Ladies’ Man, was a stark contrast to Cohen’s previous work, it contained several worthwhile tunes, like this brassy, swinging one.
- “Coming Back To You” — This gospel-tinged track is, instrumentally, one of Cohen’s finest. Appearing on the same album as “Hallelujah,” 1985’s Various Positions, it proves that all he needs to stir up emotion is simply a piano.
- “Ain’t No Cure For Love” — The title says it all. Cohen woefully tells it like it is, walking listeners through his journey to discover the solution to no avail. His low vocals, accompanied by a choir and a drum-machine beat, make for a song that is so wonderfully 80s.
- “I’m Your Man” — Again with the low, smoky vocals, Cohen tries to prove his usefulness to his lover in this track. Keeping instrumentation to a minimum, he instead lets the lyrics take the spotlight, full of innuendos and flirtatious promises.
- “Always” — “If you’re in love with somebody, these are the words that you got to learn to say,” Cohen advises in the opening to this bluesy number. Running eight minutes long, it makes as much time for romantic assurances as it does for soulful music breaks.
Though he may no longer physically reside on Earth, Leonard Cohen’s spirit is still here in the form of his timeless music. He will be remembered for his words of comfort and heartbreak, sweetness and sorrow and will not be forgotten by the generations to come.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.
Setota Hailemariam is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.