The Music of Leonard Cohen

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1. Leonard Cohen is probably a Canadian of French extraction, raised as a Catholic, yet with a Jewish name. He attended French music social events in Canada featuring the French Accordion instrument as a child and later became a published poet. He played guitar from about the age of 12, mostly folk music (Spanish guitar - nylon strings with emphasis on picking). He later moved to New York.

The French Accordion scale themes are prominent in many of his songs e.g. "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "Suzanne". Quite beautiful.

At the age of about 33 when many musicians are ending their careers, he began his as a singer/songwriter, releasing the album "Songs in a Room" in 1969 and eleven albums later, "Dear Heather" in 2004.

2. Hard to pick a best album, the good stuff is spread out across the various offerings but "Ten New Songs" (2001) although a slight departure from his previous accoustic musical style, a deviation which began in 1988 with "I'm Your Man", definitely resonates with me.

3. I rate him very highly as a composer. Apart from his obviously superior lyrics, his chording is excellent. As a musician, I learned that when playing in a minor key, a good bridge is to go to the semitone major e.g. (Abm A or C#m D), and also, that a major key lends itself superbly to a minor or relative major-minor bridge chord (e..g B - Abm or B - G).

A three-chord scale progression is also appealing as in this Fm chord sequence from "A Thousand Kisses Deep":
Fm C Fm C C# Bbm C Fm Fm7 Fm6 Bbm C Bbm Eb Fm

Good to know for songwriting purposes ...

4. Listening to Leonard Cohen taught me: just experience life and write songs.

The five Leonard Cohen songs I would choose to perform (if I could):

1. A Thousand Kisses Deep
2. Death of a Lady's Man
3. Everybody Knows
4. Tower of Song
5. In My Secret

5. The songs I enjoyed the most: "The Land of Plenty", "Boogie Street", "Last Year's Man", "By the Rivers Dark"

Slow, easy listening for people who need it.

Guestposted on Wednesday 4th of January 2017 at 15:06

And what about Famous Blue Raincoat ...

Guestposted on Friday 5th of September 2014 at 10:38


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