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Trivia / Leonard Cohen

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  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Shortly before past lover and muse Marianne Ihlen's death, three months prior to his own, Leonard wrote a heartfelt farewell letter to her. The letter that was widely shared in the media, however, was not his own but an altered version shared in an interview by mutual friend Jan Mollestad. The original is as below:
    Dearest Marianne,
    I’m just a little behind you, close enough to take your hand. This old body has given up, just as yours has too, and the eviction notice is on its way any day now.
    I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty. But you know that. I don’t have to say any more. Safe travels old friend. See you down the road. Love and gratitude. Leonard
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  • Big Name Fan: Cohen acquired quite a lot of celebrity fans over the years, among them Bono (U2), Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley, Tom Barman (dEUS), Herman Van Veen, Rufus Wainwright , The Sisters of Mercy (who were even named after Cohen's song of the same name from Songs of Leonard Cohen),...
  • Creator Breakdown: Cohen spent his entire career struggling with clinical depression. His darkest album, Songs of Love and Hate, came out of an especially troubled time; it is considered one of his best offerings by critics, but is not popular with the general public because it's just so dark. (Cohen himself states that he has trouble listening to it, and it is under-represented on his Best Of album, which he chose the songs for himself.) The Future is a similar case; a fairly dark album, released in 1992, which was right in the middle of what Cohen would later reflect on as a time of "disorder in my life, of chaos and depression, of distress."
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  • Hitless Hit Album: Most of Cohen's albums are acclaimed and have fan favorite material, like "Bird On The Wire" and "The Partisan" from Songs from a Room, but have never been hits in the charts.
  • Money, Dear Boy: The reason he started touring again. Justified as his former manager stole all his money and left him nearly destitute. However, his live shows were acclaimed, his manager was arrested and sentenced to prison, and he did very well financially in his last years.
    • Could be said of his entire career. Cohen saw himself as a poet first; songwriting and recording paid better.
  • Old Shame:
    • His stated opinions of Death of a Ladies Man were more positive in his latter years than they used to be, but he would still refer to it as a "noble travesty" (direct quote). His fans are inclined to agree. It wasn't his fault entirely, though. Phil Spector apparently abducted the tapes at gunpoint and did his own thing with them; reports vary as to what actually happened, but there was definitely a gun involved, as well as a declaration of love.
      • His daughter, on the other hand, apparently loves it.
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    • Another example is the above quoted song "Chelsea Hotel #2" from New Skin for the Old Ceremony. In his younger days, he always dedicated the song to Janis Joplin, making it clear that it was her he was singing about. This was rather bold, due to the song's highly sexual and erotic content. He later regretted ever having done this.
  • Reclusive Artist: During his second serious Creator Breakdown around the release of The Future, Cohen went into self-imposed exile in a Zen monastery for a few years.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers:
    • Cohen unknowingly signed away the rights to his first major song, "Suzanne", thanks to a deceptive contract that he didn't read. He only ever made money from his performances of the song, and a performance by Ron Sexsmith of the song at a tribute concert a year after Cohen's death was cut from the later CBC broadcast.
    • More a case of Screwed by the Accountants: his financial manager infamously emptied his bank account while he was at the above-mentioned Zen monastery, forcing him to go back on tour.
  • Throw It In!: The cover photo of I'm Your Man shows Cohen in a sharp suit and sunglasses, casually eating a banana. This came about because Jennifer Warnes, his sometime backing singer, was making a video for her version of one of his songs, and Cohen showed up on the set to see what was going on and generally give the whole thing his blessing. A photographer on the set happened to snap a picture of him eating the banana and, months later, Cohen was looking for an image for the cover of his new (and what would prove to be his Career Resurrection) album, when he came across that informal photo. He decided that it was the perfect image.

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