Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Singer Leonard Cohen dies aged 82

Dance Me to the End of Love’ Leonard Cohen

‘Amidst the energy and sometimes excess of the popular music scene of the 1960s and 70s, Leonard Cohen always stood out as something different. Born in 1934 he was older and somewhat wiser than many of his counterparts, and his literary interests meant that his music often sounds as carefully constructed poetry put to music. This was reflective, thoughtful music, that had a resonance which outlasted most other pop music of the time. The existential mood of ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, to take one example, with its haunting melody captured a more intellectual and mystical side of popular culture. Cohen’s Jewishness and his interest in Buddhism all linked into his artistic vision, and he carried on making remarkable music when others had fallen by the wayside. ‘Hallelujah’, from 1984 is probably the most famous song, but the powerful ‘The Future’ from 1992, where the title track warned ‘Get ready for the future: it is murder’, was a stark and accurate portrayal of what was to come. But how could we forget 1984’s ‘Dance me to the End of Love’ a masterpiece of depth, humour and intelligence, a song which he often opened his gigs with. ‘Love’ is the most common theme in popular songs, and often used in a superficial ways, but Leonard Cohen brought a literary imagination, and a unique voice to popular music. A true original.’


Written by Dr Roger Fagge, Department of History

11th November 2016