I was very much saddened, as I know most of my blog readers were, to hear the news of Leonard Cohen’s passing. His contribution to the world of poetry and popular songwriting is immeasurable; his music will be studied and performed for centuries, there can be no doubt.
Over the past 8 or so years of this blog, I’ve mentioned Cohen a lot. There was one aspect of his writing, though, that I referred to more than any other, and that was his ability to keep the music simple, so that the subtle power of his words could shine through.
More than almost any other songwriter, Cohen had an ability to demand attention in the quietest way possible. If you were able to listen to the instrumental versions of his music without the singing, the music would be most unremarkable. His voice was the extraordinary instrument added to the top (or shall I say the bottom) of the mix, and his words were the singular shining element.
A great demonstration of this mix of simplicity of music and profundity of meaning can be heard in “Anthem.” He has always had a way of demanding that we listen.
If there’s anything I feel that I’ve learned from Leonard Cohen, it’s this: if you want to make a powerful impact through your music, quiet down.
Thanks, Mr. Cohen.
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