Leonard Cohen died last week after a “sudden” fall in the night at his Los Angeles home, his manager revealed.
The beloved ‘Hallelujah’ songwriter had been battling cancer in the months before he passed away, but there was little sign that he was near death.
No cause was offered after his death on Nov. 7, but Cohen’s manager, Robert B. Kory, offered more detail about his client’s death.
“Leonard Cohen died during his sleep following a fall in the middle of the night on Nov. 7,” Mr. Kory said in a statement, the New York Times reported. “The death was sudden, unexpected and peaceful.”
Cohen, 82, died midway through work on an album of string arrangements of his songs and another inspired by old rhythm-and-blues grooves.
He stepped up his famously plodding pace of work after being told by doctors that he might not have long to live.
Cohe was music’s Jewish man of letters whose songs fused religious imagery with themes of redemption and sexual desire.
Cohen has been buried in Montreal in an unadorned pine box next to his mother and father, his son Adam said on Facebook on Sunday.
“As I write this I’m thinking of my father’s unique blend of self-deprecation and dignity, his approachable elegance, his charisma without audacity, his old-world gentlemanliness and the hand-forged tower of his work,” Adam Cohen wrote.
Born into a Jewish family in 1934 and raised in an affluent English-speaking neighborhood of Quebec, Cohen read Spanish poet Federico García Lorca as a teenager - later naming his daughter Lorca. He learned to play guitar from a flamenco musician and formed a country band called the Buckskin Boys.
Cohen moved to New York in 1966 at age 31 to break into the music business. Before long, critics were comparing him with Bob Dylan for the lyrical force of his songwriting.
Although he influenced many musicians and won many honors, including induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada, Cohen rarely made the pop music charts with his sometimes moody folk-rock.
His most ardent admirers compared his works to spiritual prophecy. He sang about religion, with references to Jesus Christ and Jewish traditions, as well as love and sex, political upheaval, regret and what he once called the search for “a kind of balance in the chaos of existence.”
Cohen’s most famous song, “Hallelujah,” in which he invoked the biblical King David and drew parallels between physical love and a desire for spiritual connection, has been covered hundreds of times since he released it in 1984.
Cohen’s other well-known songs include “Suzanne,” “So Long, Marianne,” “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “The Future,” an apocalyptic 1992 recording in which he darkly intoned: “I’ve seen the future, brother/It is murder.”—With Reuters
Dave Goldiner is the Forward’s director of digital media. Dave is a veteran journalist who has spent two decades working at newspapers in the United States and Africa. A native New Yorker, Goldiner wrote for the New York Daily News, where he covered some of the biggest stories of our time, including the attacks of September 11, along with thousands of stories of hope and heartbreak. He also studied and worked in Southern Africa and has written for publications in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He holds masters degrees in journalism and public administration from Columbia University. Dave can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @davegoldiner