Leonard Cohen didn’t venture into songwriting until 1967; before that, he mainly released poetry and novels.
His first four albums contained sensational material, a treasure waiting to be discovered by serious songwriters. Let’s take a look at the highlights from this 1967-1974 period.
On his debut album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, we find Suzanne, Sisters Of Mercy, and So Long, Marianne. The follow-up, Songs from a Room (1969), featured two notable tunes, Bird on the Wire and The Partisan (a cover).
Cohen’s third album, Songs Of Love And Hate, was released in 1971, and one tune stands out here Famous Blue Raincoat.
In 1974, his album New Skin for the Old Ceremony introduced the legendary Chelsea Hotel #2, which apparently is about Janis Joplin. Who By Fire is also pretty good.
In 1977, he teamed up with Phil Spector and released Death Of A Ladies’ Man. The album didn’t have any notable tunes, and the same goes for his next release, Recent Songs.
However, in 1984, Cohen made a comeback with Various Positions, which included his biggest tune yet, Hallelujah. Ranked at #259 as the greatest song of all time, it has been covered by many artists, most famously Jeff Buckley’s 2004 version.
In 1988, Cohen released his last great album, I’m Your Man. The production may be questionable, but the songwriting shines through in First We Take Manhattan, Everybody Knows, I’m Your Man (title track), and Take This Waltz.
I’m Your Man also includes my favorite Leonard Cohen lyrics in Tower Of Song. The first two verses go like this:
Well, my friends are gone, and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love, but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day in the Tower of Song
I said to Hank Williams, how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
Oh, a hundred floors above me in the Tower of Song
Following I’m Your Man, Cohen released a further seven albums. Some had great titles (Popular Problems, You Want It Darker), and some had great lyrics, but none married a melody to become another Leonard Cohen classic.
Leonard Cohen tunes | Related pages
Bird on the Wire
You can learn how to play Bird on the Wire by Leonard Cohen using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| A | E |
Like a bird on the wire…
Dance Me To The End Of Love
You can learn how to play Dance Me To The End Of Love by Leonard Cohen using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| Cm | Cm | Gm | Gm |
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin…
Famous Blue Raincoat
You can learn how to play Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| Bm7 | G |
It’s four in the morning, the end of December…
You can learn how to play Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| G5 | Em7 |
I heard there was a secret chord…
So Long, Marianne
You can learn how to play So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| A | A | Bm | Bm |
Come over to the window, my little darling…