Leonard Cohen’s songs mix the sleazy and the sacred in ways that break down both categories. This music, delivered in Cohen’s nasal non-voice, often played on cheap synthesizers, shoddily produced, sometimes badly recorded and unreliably distributed, nevertheless finds unlikely access to words like “holy,” “saint,” and “prayer” as though to transcend its origins in the gut and the loins. Cohen has attracted many disciples and inspired many conversions. He is one of the most beloved figures in modern pop, but everyone who listens to Cohen feels he has bailed him out of impending obscurity.
These lines comprise the opening paragraph of “The ‘Stoned Gallantry’ of Leonard Cohen,” Dan Chiasson’s review of Sylvie Simmons’ I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen published in The New York Review of Books: February 21, 2013.
That clever first line and the discussion of Leonard Cohen’s unique role as a true poet who also writes songs with poetic sensibilities (see excerpt below) are must-reads for those with an interest in Leonard Cohen or songwriting.