Even though Leonard Cohen is long gone, his nearly fifty years in the music industry left us with more than we can desire from him. Born in 1934, the Canadian songwriter and singer, is probably what Malcom Gladwell would call an Outlier in the music industry. Thanks to his writing, fiction, and poetry skills, Leonard Cohen maintained quite a high profile in the music industry for his lifetime in music. Even though not all of his jams emerged to be global hits, they all have quite some magical level of expression.
Known by many as the late-blooming gloom-monger among the elite coterie of the sixties and seventies artists, Leonard Cohen enjoyed a fruitful career. Notably, his music career was marked by spiritual hiatuses and a redefinition which later resulted in an amazingly great career in American entertainment. Even at his old age, Leonard Cohen would manage to pull some amazing three-and-a-half-hour concerts regularly. And thanks to his multiple no-brainer albums that the singer would keep his audience engaged and overly entertained. Our Top 10 Leonard Cohen Songs brings us to the best songs by the artists that gained traction and a great following to date worldwide.
# 10 – Master Song
Coming in at tenth position is probably one of Leonard Cohen’s greatest narratives in all his albums. This jam weaves a quite compelling narrative from the perspective of a slave. As per the lyrics, the slave seems to be in a situation where he is tortured by enduring his master’s devotion to her new mistress. However, while this might seem to have been targeted in elevating the masters ‘masculinity’ verses in the music later mocks the master’s new relationship. Cohen brings out quite a vibe with the revelation that the slave is his master’s master in this whole love triangle. The lyrical prowess expressed by Leonard Cohen in this steamy song can barely be achieved by most of the artists there. Even better is the twist of events as expressed by the artist in his song making it one of his best.
# 9 – Anthem
Released as the centerpiece to his 1992 album, The Future, this song is quite a banger having it relate to the current decade. The song rings out one of the largest apocalyptic imagery that Leonard Cohen presented to the world. Its chorus gives the song spiritual reasoning answering the question of why the world is breaking around us- the crack in everything. His 1992 album like the current decade, was released in quite some turbulent times where America faced multiple riots and earthquakes. Probably, this is the ballad that most can take up during the sad pandemic times and probably even years later when the world faces some calamities.
# 8- Dance Me to the End of Life
Described as trembling on the brink of becoming a standard is this hit song from Leonard Cohen’s 1984 album, Various Positions. A song characterized by the redefinition of Leonard Cohen, Dance Me to the End of Life is one of his greatest and moving songs. Composed with a cheap Casio synth, the song was inspired by a narrative Leonard Cohen had heard of prisoners. From the tale, the prisoners at concentration camps were forced into playing music to soundtrack their fellow detainees while being led to the crematorium. Despite a seductive and sweet jazzy melody, the song’s lyrics are quite disturbing if you pay attention.
# 7 – Everybody Knows
Despite having a somber tone and repetition of the song’s title, in the beginning, Everybody Knows remains to be one of the most famous songs by Leonard Cohen. Released in the 1988 album I’m Your Man, this song makes it’s in Cohen’s most pessimistic songs. While we know much, having all the facts packaged together might make quite some sad truth for many and so does the mood of the song dictate. Covered by multiple artists, the song proves to be quite a great jam showing the lyrical prowess of music legend Leonard Cohen.
# 6 – Tower of Song
Featured in his 1988 album I’m Your Man, this song is regarded as the keynote work of the album. This song is a love letter to his craft where he gets to equate the chase of his poetry gift to being trapped in a terrifying prison. Here, Leonard Cohen puts across the prison as the price he has to pay for his creativity-quite a high price but, amazing results it yields. What better way would Cohen tag his true gift than show the world the truth behind his art? Well, we all can attest to his short narrative that narrows down to the fact loneliness is a small price that geniuses and top performers have to pay to earn their fame.
# 5- Famous Blue Raincoat
For Famous Blue Raincoat, Leonard Cohen borrows a technique that goes all the way back to the invention of the English-language novel that is centered around a love triangle. You ought to love how Cohen frames this song to bring a perfect narrative out of it. Listening keenly to the lyrics, you discover that the song is an emotion-evoking stream of consciousness that documents the mindset of a torn soul. The song relates deeply to its 1971 Songs of Love and Hate album which expresses deep emotions of passion and hatred.
# 4 – Bird on the Wire
Like most of his songs, Bird on the Wire was bound to succeed, thanks to Leonard Cohen’s lyrical density and prowess. Notably, the song came at a time that Cohen was going through depression while living on the Greek Island Hydra. Here, Cohen noticed a bird sitting by himself on the telephone wire having him compare to the bird. Despite a frustrating start in time in music, Leonard Cohen would redefine himself by having a new approach to his works in music. The result was a beloved song that became quite a popular song of his live shows for decades.
# 3 – Hallelujah
Coming into the top three songs by Leonard Cohen is a song that takes us deeper into Leonard Cohen’s poetry prowess. In this song, Leonard Cohen crafted words that craved to be sung for the backdrop of music’s revolutionary influence. Leonard Cohen had the song Hallelujah makes the perfect love song. To Leonard Cohen, the song proves to be a hymn leading to redemption and therapeutic cleansing of a broken soul or heart.
# 2 – So Long, Marianne
Thanks to So Long, Marianne that we can all agree on Leonard Cohen being a lyrical god of his times. His performance for this ballad was also blistering great that to the pop-perfect vibe by the song. Featured in his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen, the song was inspired by Marianne Jensen a lady Leonard Cohen met on Greek Island Hydra back in 1960. Marianne had been left by her husband alongside her six-month-old son alone on the island. Leonard Cohen would take the two back to Oslo then invited them to Montreal. The rest would be history having the lady inspire most of his songs and poems. In the song, Leonard Cohen features the complexities of love, the joy in true love, and the thrill in lust that comes with all the interaction.
# 1 – Suzanne
There is no bigger song than Suzanne having it launched Leonard Cohen’s career after he shared its lyrics with Collins where she invited him to the stage. Later, the song would be featured in her album In My Life. The song is inspired by a true story of a lady, Suzanne, having him write about an interspersing of mind and spirit with her. With the song featured as the first song in his debut record, it probably set Leonard Cohen as one of the great lyricists and singers to look out for even after his first album.
Leonard Cohen Songs Ranked article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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