Leonard Cohen has died. His music won't. 

To get some idea of just how great the now-departed Leonard Cohen's musical legacy is, you can't just listen to his recordings. You have to look at how his works were standards for so many other artists. His songs were genius, and everyone wanted to make them their own.

Here's a sample to review over the weekend, as a sonic tonic in a world that increasingly seems to make very little sense.

We start here at home, with the Straitjacket Fits turning "So Long, Marrianne" into an alternative guitar band anthem. By the time I was old enough to start seeing them, they'd stopped playing it live. Bastards.

And almost as cool, The Pixies, covering "I Can't Forget".

Nick Cave's epic, 33 minute long version of "Tower of Song" (with condensed version here) ... along with his much more restrained (and, I suspect, sober) renderings of "Suzanne" and "I'm Your Man".

And speaking of "Suzanne", here's REM rewriting it as "Hope" (seriously - they gave Cohen a writing credit for it). Then there's their actual cover of "First We Take Manhattan".

Rufus Wainwright making "Chelsea Hotel" a torch song all of his own. And sister Martha with "The Traitor".

Lhasa De Sala, with "Who By Fire".

Johnny Cash playing "Bird on a Wire" on the second ever night of (oh my God - so young!) Jon Stewart's chat show. Obviously a bit of a favourite with outlaw country singers, because here's Willie Nelson's version.

And, of course, the inevitable (but only because it is so gorgeous) John Cale cover of "Hallelujah" ... with Jeff Buckley's OK, but never as good, attempt here.

So - so long, Leonard. Gone, but never forgotten.

Comments (6)

by Murray Grimwood on November 11, 2016
Murray Grimwood

Yes, and the recently fitting:

"Democracy is coming..........to the USA.

Great talent, great global citizen - we're the poorer for his passing

by Stewart Hawkins on November 11, 2016
Stewart Hawkins

I have found Cohen's music to generally be whining drivel, carefully refined for those folks who need to be drawn from their drunken stupor, where they lie to themselves or maybe actually believe his music represents an art form, over the edge of the nearest motorway bridge to commit the suicide that Cohen must surely have craved for them. Can I be alone? I am also suspicious of the performance aspect of those composers whose best works have better covers than the originals. I have just listened to the originals and covers of the tracks listed here to see if could be persuaded to a different opinion but no. A similar artist might be JJ Cale, who in my opinion was never eclipsed even by Clapton's versions of his music. I have to get a cup of tea to cheer myself up now..

by Murray Grimwood on November 11, 2016
Murray Grimwood

His recent concert tour was pretty good..... and I prefer his version of many to the cover(s).

That said, the post missed the best Cohen cover of all time - Jennifer Warnes' 'Famous Blue Raincoat'. 

by Rosemary McDonald on November 11, 2016
Rosemary McDonald

k.d.lang...

Here and here.

by Ross on November 11, 2016
Ross

I saw him in Wellington three years ago. I didn't know what to expect from a 79 year old but he was very good. He made me feel old!

by Peggy Klimenko on November 12, 2016
Peggy Klimenko

Stewart Hawkin": "I have found Cohen's music to generally be whining drivel, carefully refined for those folks who need to be drawn from their drunken stupor..."

Oh well, not everyone gets Cohen's music. Don't feel badly about it......

Ross: "I saw him in Wellington three years ago. I didn't know what to expect from a 79 year old but he was very good.

We were at the Wellington concert in 2010, I think it was. A memorable experience: what an artist he was!

 

Post new comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.