David Crompton
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40/70 #03: Leonard Cohen

Photograph: Annie Liebovitz

Photograph: Annie Liebovitz


"I read somewhere that as you grow older certain brain cells die that are associated with anxiety so it doesn't really matter how much you apply yourself to the disciplines. You're going to start feeling a lot better or a lot worse depending on the condition of your neurons."


Name: Leonard Cohen
Date of Birth: September 21, 1934
Place of Birth: Montréal, Canada
Occupation: Poet, Songwriter, Musician, Visual Artist, Monk
Current Age: 79
What's so great about Leonard Cohen: Cohen seems to have been committed to the long game from the beginning. He has been meticulously crafting poems, fiction and songs for nearly 60 years. In the 90s Cohen spent five years living as a buddhist monk at the Mt. Baldy Zen centre. In 2009, after his savings was drained by his former manager, Cohen, age 73, began touring for the first time in 15 years. Since then he has performed hundreds of concerts, typically performing three or more hours a night. On top of all this, Cohen is always dressed impeccably. He has said stated publicly that when he turns 80 he will start smoking again. We'll see in September...     

The incredible craftsmanship of Leonard Cohen's songs has long attracted other musicians to perform them. There have been many, many great covers over the years and it seems to me that the best of them are when the performer really makes it their own. Like a suit, each set of Cohen's words fit a performer differently and there's not much sense in wearing them like he does. Here are a couple of recent ones from sessions that coincided with the release of Cohen's 2012 LP, Old Ideas. The last one is a recording of Teddy Thompson's version of "Tonight Will be Fine" from the film "I'm Your Man."