Great songwriting, as does great poetry, feeds the spirit and informs and lifts. It gives one an insight into life’s vagueries, pain and hurt, as well as joy, tenderness, love and hate in a way that opens new understanding into what are universalities.
There are some few great artist that have achieved and are able to deliver a mixture of words, vocal treatment, phrasing, music that is so precisely balanced between excellence and banality that it lifts the soul with its precise ability to portray that which is almost impossible to do for others – what one has learned or made of such acutely personal & private experience of life’s emotions.
Dylan, Waits, Joni Mitchel, Rodriguez are a few that have attained this level, and there are others. However, Leonard Cohen is the truest and greatest of them all. Of that, there is no doubt in my mind.
Cohen is the Hemingway of songwriting, exploring and transmitting the essence of feelings in all sides of relationships between men and women, and of showing his love for women.
This Guardian Review of 10 of his best songs is a fitting tribute and a wonderful introduction to his work for those that somehow have missed it.
If you are interested in relationships, in the human condition, in emotion and its complexities – portrayed in plain but richly coloured language, then you can’t but find Cohen’s work enormously satisfying. I commend it to you.
From his 1967 debut album to last year’s Popular Problems, here’s the pick of the great man’s career