Back in the late 1980s, I heard him on “Morningside” and Gzowski kept asking, “So, you’re feeling good? Doing OK then?”
I thought, well, obviously he’s on his last legs; that’s why they’re giving him all those Junos.
(Who will ever forget his acceptance speech? “Only in Canada could someone like me win an award for ‘Best Male Vocalist’…”)
So now it’s finally happened. From the NYT:
More than 2,000 recordings of his songs have been made, initially by the folk-pop singers who were his first champions, like Judy Collins and Tim Hardin, and later by performers from across the spectrum of popular music, among them U2, Aretha Franklin, R.E.M., Jeff Buckley, Trisha Yearwood and Elton John. (…)
To the end, Mr. Cohen took a sardonic view of both his craft and the human condition. In “Tower of Song,” a staple of live shows in his later years, he brought the two together, making fun of being “born with the gift of a golden voice” and striking the same biblical tone apparent on his first album.
Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter, but of this you may be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there’s a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong
You see, you hear these funny voices in the tower of song.
“The changeless is what he’s been about since the beginning,” the writer Pico Iyer argued in the liner notes for the anthology “The Essential Leonard Cohen.” “Some of the other great pilgrims of song pass through philosophies and selves as if through the stations of the cross. With Cohen, one feels he knew who he was and where he was going from the beginning, and only digs deeper, deeper, deeper.”