Leonard Cohen (born September 21, 1934), a Canadian poet, novelist, songwriter and singer, was born in Montreal, Quebec, where he attended McGill University. His first poetry book, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956) was published while he was an undergraduate. In 1961, The Spice Box Of Earth made him widely famous.
After moving to Greece, Cohen published Flowers For Hitler in 1964, and the novels The Favorite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966) after which he went to the United States and began to perform in folk festivals. His album The Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967 in music) was followed by Songs From a Room, Songs of Love and Hate (1971 in music), Death of a Ladies' Man, Recent Songs, Various Positions, I'm Your Man (1988), The Future (1992 in music) and Ten New Songs (2001 in music).
Cohen has continued to record intermittently since that time, his cryptic yet satisfying lyrics and evocative sound continuing to attract discerning music lovers of all ages.
Many of Cohen's songs have been interpreted by other artists, often receiving far more popular attention than Cohen's own, typically minimalistic arrangements. Examples include "First We Take Manhattan" (Joe Cocker, Jennifer Warnes, REM), "Bird On A Wire" (The Neville Brothers, Fairport Convention, Judy Collins), and "Hallelujah" (Bob Dylan, John Cale, Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley). As of December 31, 2002, the site www.leonardcohenfiles.com had counted a total of 759 published cover versions of Cohen's songs.
- In 1991, Leonard Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
- In 1996, Cohen ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk at the Mount Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles, California as Jikan, a Dharma name meaning silent one. He left in Spring 1999.
- In 2003, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest honour.
- "I'm guided by a signal in the heavens/ I'm guided by this birthmark on my skin/ I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons/ first we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin" -from First We Take Manhattan (1986)
- "From the homicidal bitchin', that goes down in every kitchen/ to determine who will serve and who will eat... democracy is coming to the USA." -from Democracy (1992)
- "So the great affair is over/ but whoever would have guessed/ it would leave us all so vacant/ and so deeply unimpressed/ It's like our visit to the moon/ or to that other star/ I guess you go for nothing/ if you really want to go that far" -from Death of a Ladies' Man (1977)
- "I needed so much/ To have nothing to touch/ I've always been greedy that way..." -from The Night Comes On (1984)
- "The ponies run, the girls are young/ The odds are there to beat/ You win a while, and then itís done/ —Your little winning streak/ And summoned now to deal / With your invincible defeat/ You live your life as if itís real/ A Thousand Kisses Deep." -from A Thousand Kisses Deep (2001)
- "Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ It's how the light gets in." -from Anthem (1992)