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Any Major Cohen Covers

November 17th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments


At this year’s Emmy awards in September, some breathy, note-swallowing songstress sang Leonard Cohen’s magnificent though now overcooked Hallelujah over the section listing the year’s departed TV people. I don’t know why she sang that particular song, but it didn’t cross my mind that within a couple of months, Cohen himself would find inclusion on In Memoriam lists.

Cohen himself knew, though. And he checked out the day before Americans rejected notions of respect and decency. His death on November 7 was made public only four days later.

In April this year, Marianne Ihlen (née Jensen), Cohen’s muse who was immortalised in his song So Long Marianne, died. As Marianne lay dying of leukemia, Cohen wrote her a letter. In it he said: “Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

Now dab dry those most eyes, and take delight in this mix of covers of Leonard Cohen’s songs. It is a strange thing, but Cohen is not really widely covered, a few select songs aside. Often the same artists would return to the Cohen songbook. And yet, I think his songs are very coverable indeed, as this mix shows.

The most covered song in the Cohen canon is 1984’s Hallelujah. Jeff Buckley’s version is the standard, of course, but I also like the two Shrek versions, John Cale’s in the film, and Rufus Wainwright’s on the soundtrack. Some versions are awful (apparently even Michael F. Bolton has molested the song). Here I’ve gone for Brandi Carlile’s lovely version -‘- she is one of the finest contemporary singers — which was recorded live with The Seattle Symphony (the live album, Live at Benaroya Hall, is superb). Newsweek ranked it at #7 in its entertaining list of Top 60 versions of Hallelujah.

A few singers here are people with whom Cohen had close relationships. He was a mentor to Anjani Thomas and to some extent to Jennifer Warnes (they also wrote some songs together). Judy Collins was his mentor. When Cohen was still a struggling poet-songwriter with no plans to become a singer, his fellow Canadian folkie recorded a couple of his compositions — and had a hit with Suzanne. I wrote about it in The Originals.

Cohen had some success with his latter albums, stepping in the gerontophile path smoothed by Johnny Cash. There is something about the wisdom of songs being delivered by a worn voice. Three Cohen songs are covered here by such worn voices; those of Johnny Cash, Marianne Faithful and Tom Jones. The latter nails his song especially.

I was going to run the second volume of the Bob Dylan covers this week, to follow up on the first mix. That will now have to wait.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-poetried covers. PW in comments.

1. Nick Cave – I’m Your Man (2006)
2. Pixies – I Can’t Forget (1991)
3. Joe Cocker – First We Take Manhattan (1999)
4. Lloyd Cole – Chelsea Hotel (1991)
5. Johnny Cash – Bird On A Wire (1994)
6. Roberta Flack – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (1969)
7. Francoise Hardy – Suzanne (1970)
8. Bell + Arc – So Long, Marianne (1971)
9. Judy Collins – Famous Blue Raincoat (1971)
10. Pearls Before Swine – Seems So Long Ago, Nancy (1971)
11. Esther Ofarim – You Know Who I Am (1969)
12. Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris – Sisters Of Mercy (1999)
13. Brandi Carlile – Hallelujah (2011)
14. Harvey Milk – One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong (1996)
15. Anjani Thomas – Blue Alert (2006)
16. Tom Jones – Tower Of Song (2012)
17. Marianne Faithfull – Going Home (2014)
18. Jennifer Warnes – A Singer Must Die (1986)
Bonus track: Madeleine Peyroux – Dance Me To The End Of Love (2004)


More Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Rod Temperton
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

More Mixes
More Songbooks
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  1. halfhearteddude
    November 17th, 2016 at 07:39 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Bo
    November 17th, 2016 at 10:01 | #2


  3. JohhnyDiego
    November 17th, 2016 at 11:57 | #3

    Thanks, Dude. I’ve been scrounging around for Cohen covers since his death. This isn’t just Any Major Help.

  4. Dave B
    November 17th, 2016 at 17:06 | #4

    I’m glad to see this; thanks. Somehow I’m not as sad to see Leonard Cohen go as I was, say, David Bowie. I don’t know why exactly. I feel like he had a good run, put out one last great album and was ready to depart. Plus, I had the opportunity to see him live a couple years ago and it was a really wonderful concert. That doesn’t really explain it, but I raise a glass to him now anyway and look forward to enjoying this mix.

  5. November 17th, 2016 at 18:27 | #5

    Great mix

  6. tngland
    November 18th, 2016 at 12:53 | #6

    Instead of downloading the music files, Zippyshare placed SkySurfer malware onto my Mac. Took me nearly an hour to delete all the files it placed in my system, which caused many unwanted websites to pop up. Beware

  7. Anja K.
    November 18th, 2016 at 16:11 | #7

    Hey Dude,

    very interesting mix! I’m not as familiar with Leonard Cohen’s work as I probably should be (I have some shocking gaps in my musical knowledge) and this helps fill me in. I’m behind on listening to your mixes so I’m hoping to get caught up and comment more soon.

  8. halfhearteddude
    November 18th, 2016 at 17:57 | #8

    @tngland That is very strange. Zippyshare is regarded as a safe site (e.g. https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/zippyshare.com), and the scanning the *.rar file indicates no infection. I wonder whether other people have had your bad experience?

  9. tngland
    November 18th, 2016 at 19:11 | #9

    I agree, I have downloaded from there many times with no problem. I’m frustrated though since I would love to have the mix, but I’m afraid to try it again.@halfhearteddude

  10. halfwit
    November 18th, 2016 at 21:51 | #10

    Jennifer Warnes’ Song of Bernadette is really pretty.. well worth hunting down.

  11. halfhearteddude
    November 18th, 2016 at 22:31 | #11

    It was on my list. In the end I kept it for a Saved! collection, in case I ever make a Catholic imagery one…

  12. halfhearteddude
    November 18th, 2016 at 23:15 | #12

    Maybe this Rapidgator link will work for you: http://rg.to/file/9532413b33ea1080bb334c7863ba4728//Cohencov.rar.html

  13. RhodB
    November 19th, 2016 at 21:55 | #13

    Thank you

    A nicely put together compilation ( as usual) some great interpretations



  14. tngland
    November 20th, 2016 at 22:40 | #14

    That works, Thanks for your quick help–love the compilation!@halfhearteddude

  15. November 21st, 2016 at 19:34 | #15

    My favorite: Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye – Sylvester And The Hot Band.
    More Cohen covers on http://soulmusicsongs.tumblr.com/tagged/Leonard-Cohen-Got-Soul

  16. halfhearteddude
    November 21st, 2016 at 22:49 | #16

    Wow, that is great stuff.

  17. dogbreath
    November 23rd, 2016 at 16:22 | #17

    It takes all sorts, right? But I’ve never been a fan of Mr Cohen, always preferring other people’s covers of his songs so this mix is spot on for me. Btw Zippy today says file doesn’t exist so many thanks for the rg link.

  18. halfhearteddude
    November 24th, 2016 at 07:06 | #18

    Thanks for the broken link alert. It’s fixed now.

  19. futurelandfill
    December 6th, 2016 at 01:31 | #19

    Small correction. Judy Collins isn’t a Canadian. She certainly managed to put some Leonard songs front and centre when he needed that to happen, so good on her.

  20. psychfan
    March 10th, 2017 at 02:42 | #20

    Thank you, great collection. For the record, Judy Collins is from Denver, Colorado.

  21. Politodos
    October 14th, 2018 at 11:22 | #21

    Would it be possible to reactivate the “Any Major Cohen Covers” link?


  22. halfhearteddude
    October 14th, 2018 at 14:02 | #22
  23. Tom
    February 22nd, 2019 at 10:22 | #23

    Incredibly compilation, thanx!
    I had been for long after a lovely blond curley lady. Just yesterday, dinning at her apartment I told her about your Cohen compilation and we started listening to it. Well this songs full of poetry and beatifull tunes had an incredible effect on both of us. Without going into further details, I spent the night with her. This magic night I will always associate with your compilation of Cohen’s songs

  24. halfhearteddude
    February 22nd, 2019 at 22:59 | #24

    Oh man, good stuff. I’m proud to be your wingman!

  25. Tom
    July 26th, 2021 at 22:58 | #25

    Deine Cohen-Compilation (und die 5 Dylan-CD auch!) sollten in den Kanon der teutonischen musikalischen Früherziehung gehievt werden…
    Herzlichen Dank!

  26. amdwhah
    July 27th, 2021 at 13:32 | #26

    Das würde ich befürworten. Vielen Dank.

  27. Edgar Allen
    October 21st, 2022 at 19:06 | #27

    halfhearteddude über Alles!

  28. MD
    May 30th, 2024 at 15:31 | #28

    Thanks so much!

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