(November 11,2016 – Toronto, ON) It’s been a bad week for news, capped with the announcement Canadian poet, novelist, singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen passed away last night. He was 82. There is a memorial being planned in Los Angeles but here at home the memorials started last night. A flurry of emails and Facebook postings all using the words Sad News. Sad news indeed.
Each of us who knows anything about the man without actually knowing him, has had that memory shaped by all kinds of contact. Was it his music, his songs in the 1971 Robert Altman film McCabe & Mrs. Miller that first awakened a strange stirring in your loins? Cohen wrote and sang three songs for the film. He had released his first album in 1967, the same year he abandoned Canada for the United States, and anyone who claims to know anything about Cohen has a copy in their home somewhere. The importance of his work in Altman’s film was emphasized by reviewer Scott Tobias in 2014 when he wrote, “The film is unimaginable to me without the Cohen songs, which function as these mournful interstitials that unify the entire movie.” The film was shot in West Vancouver and in Squamish, British Columbia.
Of his publishing career, he will probably be most remembered for the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964), and the novels The Favourite Game (1963) and especially for Beautiful Losers (1966).
You know all those online videos about really young children and how we’re compelled to watch them because they are children and because they are just so cute… there’s a film about a very young Leonard Cohen. Not a child but still childlike as he reads his poetry on camera for the Don Owen documentary Ladies and Gentleman— Mr. Leonard Cohen. In Toronto, the TIFF Bell Lightbox will present a special free screening of this film tomorrow, November 12 at 1:00PM. Tickets will be distributed at the venue two hours before the start of the event and only 1 ticket per person.
Meanwhile, we can all go on, taking into this sad day, a day of remembrance, his words, his, music, his gruff voice masking a gentle character hidden in the lines of his own compositions.
UPDATE: It was announced today that Cohen had in fact passed away on Monday of this week, November 7th.