Your eyes are soft with sorrow

I remember vividly my introduction to the extraordinary Leonard Cohen.

I was 15, in that “coming of age” period of life in the summer of 1970.  A friend whose musical tastes I respected suggested I check out “Songs of Leonard Cohen,” the debut album that had been released two years prior.

I enjoyed my Beatles, my Cream, my Doors, my Hendrix…but I was also partial to the dulcet strains and harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, Richie Havens and Crosby, Stills and Nash.  So I was receptive to an artist whose work leaned toward the introspective, the dark and brooding, the thought-provoking and poetic.

leonard-cohen-1960sAll it took to hook me was the first song on Side One, the beautifully delicate “Suzanne.”  Three verses, no chorus.  Just a Spanish-type guitar accompaniment, light strings used sparingly, a gentle female backing vocal, and the honest, yearning voice of Cohen, offering up astonishingly poignant lyrics about the wife of a close friend.

Leonard Cohen died last week, at age 82.  He wasn’t much interested in being a star, although he eventually topped the charts in some countries.  He was an artist, not a celebrity.  He was passionate about the written word — novels, poetry, song lyrics — and made his mark in all of these. Read More