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Leonard Cohen


B: September 21, 1934 in Westmount, Québec
D: November 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California

Leonard Cohen is one of Canada’s best known poets and songwriters and his songs have been used in film and television since the mid-1960s. That said, one of the many tricky things in keeping track of Canadian film people is knowing what credits we should list for composers. There are film composers who concentrate almost solely on movie music and as such they are relatively easy to keep up to date. Then there are popular singer-songwriters whose songs are licensed for use in a film or TV program but the songs were not specifically written for that production. Leonard Cohen is just such an example. His songs have been used in more than 325 films or television productions and often music videos, but he has rarely written music or songs for a specific production. It’s understandable why directors would want to use popular songs as the lyrics often give an added dimension to the story they are trying to tell on screen. As we and many others have written, in film it’s the music that tells you had to feel. If you have ever cried during a movie, it was probably the music that got to you. We haven’t done an accurate count, but Cohen’s mid-1980s song “Hallelujah” was first used in 1993 in a 12-minute short starring Johnny Depp titled Stuff, which was a film about the life of John Frusciante. It has since been used more than 150 times and that number will grow long after this page is posted. It was not specifically written for film and we don’t count it as one of his film composition credits. We could be wrong, but we believe there are only 4 productions where Cohen can be accurately credited as a film composer.

Cohen died on November 7, 2016 but the public announcement of his passing wasn’t released until November 10. The following week his manager, Robert B. Kory stated the songwriter had fallen on the evening of November 7 and died in his sleep that night. “The death was sudden, unexpected and peaceful,” said Kory.

Also see: The Myth of Night Magic.