Leonard Cohen, the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist has died at the age of 82. News of Cohen’s passing swept through social media Thursday evening, after Sony Music Canada confirmed the news on Cohen’s Facebook page.
“It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away,” read the statement. “We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.”
While Cohen was perhaps best known for his rich songwriting catalogue, the Montreal native began his career as a poet and novelist in the 1960s. Though his novels The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966) would eventually become cult classics, Cohen’s inability to scratch out a decent living as a writer led him to music, and that’s when everything changed.
In 1967, Cohen released the aptly titled Songs of Leonard Cohen, an album that managed to be both lyrically complex and astonishingly simple all at once. Songs like “So Long, Marianne” and “Joan of Arc,” with their delicate, haunting lyrics, established Cohen as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation.
Cohen would spend the next few decades producing work at a staggering clip, and in 1994, when Jeff Buckley released his sublime cover of Cohen’s 1984 song “Hallelujah,” Cohen’s influence was once again at the forefront of popular culture.
In later decades, Cohen’s output included the albums I’m Your Man (1988), and The Future (1992), and continued up until his 14th and final album You Want It Darker, which was released earlier this year. Also released this year, was a stunning New Yorker profile on Cohen, in which he revealed that he was in poor health, and that maybe it was finally his time to go.
“I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable.” Cohen said before ultimately backpedalling: “I think I was exaggerating. I’ve always been into self-dramatization. I intend to live forever.”
Through his music, he certainly will.