Leonard Cohen Is Dead; Our World Is Darker


“I’ll never forget you, you know!”

And I’ll see what you’ve chained to your sorrow
All your sheep and your lilies of snow
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
With its “I’ll never forget you, you know!”

Take This Waltz by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen died Monday, Nov 7, 2016.

Burial took place Nov 10 under the auspices of Montreal’s Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue, the congregation to which Leonard and his family belonged and the congregation for which both Leonard’s great-grandfather, Lazarus Cohen, and his grandfather, Lyon Cohen, served as President.

The listing of the deceased’s accomplishments that is obligatory in a eulogy would be useless in this case. Those who follow this site are already aware of Leonard Cohen’s exploits as a singer-songwriter, poet, novelist, and icon. (Those interested in Leonard’s life and career can find an overview at I Can’t Forget: The Leonard Cohen Timeline.) I offer instead my own expression of Leonard Cohen’s significance:

Leonard Cohen offers the possibility of living with grace, dignity, and integrity, without submitting to illusions, without succumbing to indifference, and without indulging in denial of our own failures and flaws, in a world that is too often corrupt & malevolent.quotedown2

At Leonard Cohen’s 2008 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Induction, Lou Reed put it more succinctly and more elegantly:

We’re so lucky to be alive at the same time Leonard Cohen isquotedown2

Lou had it right.


Update: A list of articles and posts about Leonard Cohen’s life and death that are especially informative, gracious, interesting, or evocative can be found at In Memory Of Leonard Cohen

63 Replies to “Leonard Cohen Is Dead; Our World Is Darker”

  1. Scott Panco

    Godspeed Leonard, you were like a spiritual leader in my life, something no other artist could ever achieve. There will never be another like you.

    And Allan, thank you for chronicling this great life and all of his works over the years. I hope you never stop, it will help keep his songs alive forever, as they should be.

  2. Mary Chilton

    Just when we thought the world couldn’t get any bleaker, Leonard Cohen leaves us to face it on our own.

    1. Phil Magnusson

      Leonard gave us the music, lyrics and great legacy to prepare us for what may come if we listened well.

  3. Vicki Woodyard

    He made our hearts into hallowed ground as he shared his light and darkness with us. We never cared which it was, for he showed us a transcendence of the opposites. I feel the tears we shed will be greatly offset by the joy he will continue to bring us. Absent from the body but present in the spirit.

    1. Camjulien

      I join me to your words, Leonars thank you for such beautiful songs, your love to others, your voice so deep , so lovely, great person you are! And will be to eternity.

  4. Tony Kesten

    Such sad news! He’ll be missed more than can be imagined. He has left us with wonderful memories and beautiful poetry.

  5. Paul J Simmons

    I met Leonard with his girl friend who had a thin nose ring
    outside of a Manhattan movie theater playing Chinatown.
    I told him he should do a concert and soon thereafter he played The Bottom Line. R I P

  6. Mel

    Great, great sadness upon hearing this news. I send my condolences to all his family members and also to you DrHGuy. Your unique kinship with Leonard allowed us to discover so much about him that we would otherwise never have known.

  7. Jon Tascher

    So many people mourning this loss today. He touched so many lives through his music and writing and luckily for us and those to come in the future, that legacy lives on. But the world certainly feels more empty without him.

  8. Elizabeth Coughlin

    He said to Marianne ‘I think I will follow you soon’. We never imagined it would be so soon. So many of us who only knew him through his music and poetry loved him. We will miss you. Rest in peace. Deepest condolences to family and friends.

    Thank you Dr H and please continue to post.

  9. Michael F. Copado

    No, please don’t be true……… Please let this be a hoax…Not tonight….
    I’m bawling like a baby… If there was any single artist that shaped me, it was you, from your novels, to your poems, to your music. One of my first college friends, my first “grown up” friend was formed because of a mutual liking for you… .I learned about Lorca and Duende from you.. In my younger, handsomer days, I dressed like you….My dark optimism was learned from you…I learned how to seduce women from you…I learned to appreciate, honor and respect women from you… This can’t be true… you couldn’t have left us today… you shaped so much of me when I was young…You taught me how to be a gentlemen… and more importantly a gentle man.

    Bless you Leonard… Thank you for your words…. Rest well old teacher……but no… please no.

    (When I discovered Leonard in the 80’s there were very few copies of his two novels, Beautiful Losers and The Favorite Game available. My college “Leonard friend” Tony Ferlito managed to find the first one, Beautiful Losers through interlibrary loan from god knows where. But the loan was like only for two weeks, and we knew that we wouldn’t both be able to get through it in such a short time… so we torn… should we just steal it or what? This was Leonard’s rare novel. We couldn’t let it go… so instead we spent hours (and I really don’t want to think about how much it cost at 4 cents a page) xeroxing ourselves each a copy, and painstaking laying out and gluing the sheets together into book form, then binding them together fittingly with cardboard and black tape. I remember having that book for years, re-reading it until it dissolved…. Luckily years later I found reprints… which now I no longer have.)

    1. Laura

      Lovely sentiments, I only discovered Leonard 8 months ago – I feel so sad I will never get to witness him live in concert.

      1. Latifa

        oh bless you Laura. I would have felt exactly as you do now as I too am a ‘newbie’ discovering dearest Leonard in 2011 and within twelve months knowing most of his songs by heart and seeing him live in concert in 2012… I’m sure many more will ‘discover’ his ‘goldenness’ as years and lifetimes go by 🙂 xx It was amazing to see him on stage live indeed, but the DVD which I bought within a day of finding him on youtube with the webb sisters, ‘Leonard Cohen Live In London’ is a fabulous one to own and he can be in your own room up close and personal 😉 … as you already know by now his persona, his words, his voice, his sheer raw honesty and integrity with a whole lot of light shining through is what reaches us wherever we are and its truth will reach us always xx ‘a light that doesn’t need to live and doesn’t need to die’ (L.C. 1000 kisses deep)

  10. Robert McElroy

    Thank you for sharing a flake of your life. I was just a face in the crowd at five of your 300+ late career concerts. But you made me feel a guest in your home. I’ve paid a pittance for your albums and videos and have been blessed to bask in your music, your wit and your charm. And always your words. The words you worked so hard to hone. I can face my own angels and my own devils in the depths of these words. For my life, like so many others, have been and long will be reflected in that flake.

  11. Chip Davis

    Thank you Leonard. You gave us more than we deserve. Go with God and take your rest in the Tower of Song.

  12. Gunilla Lundblf

    I’m so angry and so sad. good bless his family, I will never stop listen to his poetry he felt like a soulmate ♥♥♥♥ I can’t understand this

  13. Maayke

    What a horrible news this morning. My hero is no longer among us. Rest in Peace Maestro, you will be so missed. But we have your legacy, your books, your music, our memories…

  14. Neil MacPherson

    A terrible loss to humanity and a magnificent human being whose words and ways were an inspiration on how we should live.
    Eight years ago he played Glasgow, where I live, on the night Obama was elected. Can you imagine the cheer at “Democracy is coming…. to the USA”? R I P Leonard. It’s said of many, but you will be missed by so many, most of whom you didn’t meet.

  15. Klaus Offermann

    The world without Leonard Cohen is emptier and right now it does feels darker. However his death did not leave the world darker. In fact Leonard invites us with his last album to join him to transcend the Dark and to “Steer Our Way” to a place mind he had discovered. A place of peace, joy and light.

    The CD cover is telling. Leonard is free and at peace and he looks back at us from his window of light. On opening the CD sleeve, a hummingbird, a symbol of joy flies from the dark through a window into the light as well. And then there is Issermann’s “Masterpiece” of a photo where Leonard is fully immersed in light.

    All of these photos together with his songs, invite us to steer our hearts to that place of mind where Leonard was free and at peace and most of all in the light. This is what Leonard wished for us too.

    “So come, my friends, be not afraid
    We are so lightly here
    It is in love that we are made
    In love we disappear”

    Your’s in grief,

    1. Latifa

      Thank you to Allan for these pages, particularly the post Ravished By The Song: A Confession
      A Guest Post By David Peloquin … a beautiful farewell to our dear Leonard, our light….
      and this response by Klaus is the last I can read before I sleep tonight as I have burst into tears with its beauty and resonance of Leonard’s words…and all that they and he have meant to so many of us … and that Our dear Leonard has ‘disappeared’ from our world is the grief we share, and what a blessing to share in such a loving community that we have built around him… I feel we let our hearts grieve together …comforted by the light and grace that we are blessed to know.. and to be apart of… In Peace and 1000 kisses Deep x Latifa

  16. Andrea

    Dark knight, word slayer, your silky voice filled my ears with the poetry of life’s experiences and for that I am eternally richer. May your body be at rest and your soul be soaring throughout the galaxies.

  17. Marco Grassano

    I’m deeply sad. His words helped me in many difficult moments of my life. A Maestro and a Teacher. Sit sibi terra levis.

  18. Jon Mikel Orkolaga

    Eskerrik asko guztiagatik, Leonard, Euskal Herriko gure baserri txikian beti egon eta entzungo dira zure hitzak, zure doinuak…

  19. Violeta

    Rest in peace our Fallen Star and thank you for your huge crreation and humanity!
    One thousand white lilies are for you today,we miss you so much and the words can’t cover the gap that you left!

  20. Anjisan

    My sincere condolences to Adam and Lorca, LC’s grandkids and close friends. I feel very sad, but also very grateful for all the wisdom Leonard has shared throughout his life and all the beautiful songs and poems he has given to us. I’m very glad that he was able to finish his last record and, as he said, also spiritually found peace. It reminds me of the song The Smokey Life:

    So set your restless heart at ease
    Take a lesson from these Autumn leaves
    They waste no time waiting for the snow
    Don’t argue now you’ll be late
    There is nothing to investigate
    It’s light enough, light enough
    To let it go
    Light enough to let it go

    Allan, thank you for your great, great blog, that enabled me, being so inspired by Leonard, to get my daily intake of LC. Your blog is an important place to keep the work alive and will be even more so now and in the future. I wish you and your wife all the strength to cope with this sad news.

  21. Michele prevost

    Lost…. There is no way to say goodbye.
    Thank you Allan …you are here …. Loneliness is less unbearable

    I ‘ m traveling light
    It’s au revoir

  22. Daniel Omri

    So long L. Cohen,
    Many loved you before me,
    I know we are not new,
    My eyes are soft with sorrow,
    Hey, that’s my way to say goodbye,
    To you,
    Love Dani

  23. Elizabeth

    May his memory be a blessing.

    I still remember the first time I listened to Songs of Love and Hate and I was star struck by his words and melodies. I was just a girl then and I have listened to his music ever since.

  24. Stefanie (Puddingdale)

    This year has taken so many from us and brought so much chaos. And now we have lost Leonard from our world. At least it seems he was ready and not afraid.

    I hope you are happy, wherever you are, my teacher, my prophet, my inspiration in all things spiritual and emotional. I am glad I could see you perform a few times and drink in your love faith. Thank you for your great legacy.

    The Gates of Love they budged an inch
    I can’t say much has happened since
    But closing time.

    Love, always.

  25. Genevieve

    He was my n°1, my heroe. I am very sad but so happy that his music will continue to live forever, RIP Leonard Cohen, “see you down the road” as you nicely put it when saying good bye to your audience. We have come so far for your beauty.

  26. Amrei Christensen

    You said you wanted it darker and no other album title we made so many jokes about whilst anticipating it.

    I am not ready for so much darkness and just today I cannot find any crack for any light, but I know, that your poetry and your music will be exactly that.
    Thank you for everything and thank you, Allan, for this page.

    Rest in peace, dear Maestro, the world has become not only a darker place but also much colder.


  27. Henrik Olanås

    Leonard’s work has helped me a lot in the last five years or so. I’m 24 years old and happy with my life and place in the world, in no small part thanks to Leonard. I feel very grateful and very sad. Thank you for everything.

  28. Danny Vanaudenhove

    ‘Our man’ Leonard Cohen passed away, such a very sad day. He gave us so much with his songs, his poems, the concerts and his kindness. I’m so glad I’ve met him in 2013 the day of his 79th Birthday. We sang a birthday song for him and he listened very intently as only Leonard could do, The moment he shook my hand is burned in my heart. Thank you so much, Leonard, may your rest in peace, we will never forget you <3

  29. PJ

    As a Canadian, Leonard was truly one of our greatest. We shared him with the world as we knew we he was so special. Rest peacefully my friend in the arms of God. You will never be forgotten.

  30. Mary Rees

    Leonard Cohen has been so much a part of my life. Paper Thin Hotel helped me deal with betrayal. Hallelujah gave me hope when all felt lost. Bird on the Wire has guided me my whole life through. Thank you Leonard, you will be so missed.

  31. rike

    Rest in Peace, dear Leonard Cohen.
    Condolences to his family and friends — to all of us who have been touched by his work.
    I am devastated but know that his words will continue to guide me, leaving me both in awe and speechless. Your own words, Allan, and Lou Reed’s quoted above, say it all. Thank you.

  32. Dominique BOILE

    I have chosen to spend my morning gardening and planting a small shrub
    to pay tribute to Leonard.

  33. Brigitte Paleo

    Très triste de ton départ, mon ami. J’ai toujours adoré tes chansons, elles m’accompagnent depuis mon enfance. La première fois que j’ai entendu Suzanne, j’étais dans le bus de l’école, et je me suis dit que je n’avais jamais rien entendu d’aussi beau. Tu mêles dans tes poèmes tous les aspects de l’humanité: amour, religion, désir, désespoir, et tes mélodies aussi ont ce côté sombre et torturé qui me bouleverse. Je suis en deuil aujourd’hui, j’ai beaucoup pleuré. Merci d’avoir embelli ma vie.
    So sad about your death. I’ve always loved your songs; they have been with me since I was a child. The first time ever I heard Suzanne, I was in the school bus and I thought that I had never heard anything so beautiful. You combine in your poetry every aspect of humanity – love, religion, desire or despear, and your melodies also have this dark and totured side that overhelms me. Today I am mourning, I have been weeping a lot. Thanks for having made my life more beautiful.
    Brigitte from France

  34. Linda Fish

    Thank you, Canada for sharing Leonard Cohen with the world. Wish he could have stayed a while longer. Re-reading his Book of Mercy tonight helps to ease the pain a little bit. So thankful to have his music and Cohencentric; hopefully Allan, (sincere condolences to you) will be able to continue the daily dose for Cohenites. Our world is now getting too dark, I must light a candle in memory of Leonard. And I keep thinking about his song Priests, beautiful sad song. Rest in peace, love surrounds you, dear Leonard.

  35. Helen Brooks

    How will we manage without you Leonard. Thank you for being you and for enriching our lives. You brought so much to the world, I’m so grateful to have seen you in concert so many times and have so many wonderful memories. God bless you, my thoughts are with your family.

  36. Andrew Taylor

    I beg to differ on the location of the first concert attributed to Trinity College. It was at the University of Hartford and that is me with my back to the camera with shoulder length hair in the front row and white sweater. The person clapping is Christine Gelineau, professor of creative writing at SUNY, Binghamton. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Songs of Leonard Cohen is still my reach for music on Sunday mornings when I need creative inspiration in my wood shop. Thank you Leonard.

    My hair looks a little different now.

  37. Donally Kennedy

    I will always love you, Leonard. I thought of you after I found out who won the presidential election 3 hard days ago. Commenting on your song “The Traitor”, you said something like, “Sometimes the job is not to win but to stand guiltless in the predicament you are in”, words that for some reason help me stand there and take it a little better. You help me try to remember: eschew whining, be real, testify truthfully, love love, let go of needing dreary perfection, die if it’s your time to die, but you don’t have to do it so enthusiastically. (Thank you, thank you for letting us hear your voice again in that last interview with David Remnick.) You have helped illumine, you have brought beauty, you have made me laugh during every stage of my life and I’m proud to say that I let you and will go on letting you. See you down the road.

  38. Gayle Sokolsky

    Leonard, I have never cried before – I wish you were in my family. You reached into my soul with your words and sang feelings there I never knew existed.

  39. Monica Slubicki

    Dear Leonard,
    You found words to express exactly where I was, in all kinds of seasons.
    And you saw the world and life for what it is: beautiful, tragic, humorous, broken, a gift.
    You were a gift to all of us.
    I always thought you’d live forever.
    Rest In Peace,

    Monica in North Carolina

  40. Erin van de Poll

    Dear Leonard,

    “I’ve loved you all my life and that’s how I’m gonna end it”

    Wishing Adam and Lorca and all your other near and dear ones, the strength and wisdom to deal with this fathomless void you left

    Until the next time,

    Erin van de Poll – The Netherland & Israel

  41. Dennis

    I`m still in a state of shock.
    I couldn`t do or think of anything yesterday.

    Today I wrote a little doggerel to fotmulate my grief and thoughts somehow.


    (for Leonard Norman “Jikan” Cohen; Lord Of Song, Life- saver for countleas times)

    So it`s farewell,
    Grand Hummingbird,
    It`s Closing Time
    for good.
    You`re traveling light,
    Grand Hummingbird;
    Grand Hummingbird,
    safe flight!

    It`s au revoir,
    Grand Hummingbird,
    You had a blessed life –
    You lived it bold,
    you lived it wise,
    though stumbling
    time for time;

    So it`s farewell,
    Grand Hummingbird,
    yet nothing to regret –
    It`s all but dust
    and rays of light,
    But smoke
    and air and clay;

    It`s over now,
    Grand Hummingbird,
    It`s au revoir,
    fare well!
    It`s not the End.
    I`m listening on
    your voice
    so strong and clear;

    It`s au revoir,
    it`s bon voyage,
    It`s Godspeed
    and be blessed –
    So fare then well,
    Grand Hummingbird;
    Grand Hummingbird,
    fare well!

    It`s going to be
    November now
    for countless years
    to come; –
    You will be missed
    a thousand times,
    a thousand times and more –

    Yet fare then well,
    Grand Hummingbird,
    I`ll never forget you,
    you know.

    (in eternal love and gratitude, November 11th, 2016)

  42. Peter

    Days of sorrow and grief
    memories from half a century being accomanied by this voice
    verses like Dantes Torre ferma
    what an man!

  43. John lloyd

    I bought my first guitar because i wanted to sing ‘songs from a room’ that was 1970 ive followed you ever since…Dear Leonard im so happy you went to sleep peacefully

  44. Robert McElroy

    On the Passing of Leonard Cohen

    When I was young I had heroes
    Heroes grew on trees
    Some demanded constant kneeling
    Some would bless you when you sneeze

    Some could hurl a horsehide
    Some ride and shoot and play guitar
    Or rise up in the house of Congress
    Or fight for justice at the bar

    I slept nightly with the Book of Martyrs
    And an oiled baseball glove
    I was shy but felt that I was destined
    To find success and love

    But I grew cynical too early
    By twenty three I knew it all
    My Rolodex held only dealers
    There were no heroes left to call

    I’d ascended Mt Olympus
    Prayed in a rainy Vatican Square
    I had tried to scale the Himalayas
    But couldn’t breathe the air

    So I roamed an empty landscape
    Where gods and heroes had no place
    I got semi-sober, made children and a living
    Mainly took up space

    Then some time in my fifties
    I rediscovered Leonard Cohen
    One of my long-lost youthful heroes
    When the winds of change were blowing

    Since then, I’ve almost been that boy again
    Awed, innocent yet wise
    God, it feels so lonely on this planet
    When your only hero dies.