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Music

The first song that Placebo singer Brian Molko fell in love with

Placebo singer Brian Molko’s life changed at 13 when he purchased a Leonard Cohen cassette, and it couldn’t have arrived to him at a more pivotal time.

Molko’s childhood was nomadic, and he never stayed in one place for too long. He was born in the Belgian capital, Brussels, and frequently moved across Europe due to his father’s job as a banker. Locations he lived in as a child include Dundee, Liberia, and Lebanon before they finally settled in Sandweiler in Luxembourg.

Throughout his many different schools, Molko could never quite fit in and was always somewhat of an outsider. Perhaps this was down to the rebellious way in which he portrayed himself and his reluctance to follow social norms, but music was always there to comfort him during these difficult times.

It was his early teenage years when music began to truly take a grip on Molko’s life, and it was a source of escapism for him. In fact, the Placebo singer admitted it wasn’t until he was 13 that he first truly fell in love with a song, thanks to the late great Leonard Cohen.

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Speaking to NME, Molko revealed he was reduced to tears after hearing ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’, which softened the blow after being dumped. “I was brokenhearted, I’d been dumped. Back at school that was a really big deal – the end of the world. I’d just bought Cohen’s greatest hits on cassette,” he said.

Adding: “This came on and something really magical happened. It was a transcendental experience. I was the song. I remember falling to the ground, bursting into tears and crying for about 20 minutes.”

The memory is unforgettable for Molko, who also brought up the occasion to the Irish Times in another interview, and spoke about how listening to Cohen has made him a better songwriter. He revealed: “I discovered his music when I was 13 and I think I burst out crying the first time I heard it. His songwriting is so economical. It’s amazing how much he conveyed, so much with so little. It always blows my mind”.

Years earlier, Molko first discussed his love of Cohen with Kerrang and revealed ‘Chelsea Hotel No. 2’ was another track from the Canadian’s canon that helped shape him. “I’m a huge Leonard Cohen fan and this was one of the first songs I learned to play on the acoustic guitar. I was fascinated by Janis Joplin at the time and this was basically the story of him and her in a hotel room, having sex and doing drugs,” Molko said.

He continued: “His lyrics are masterful and so simple. Leonard Cohen remains an influence on me to this day-you just have to listen to ‘In The Cold Light Of Morning’ on our Meds album to hear his impact.”

While on the surface the work of Cohen doesn’t share much in common with the world of Placebo, once you dig a little deeper and study songs such as ‘In The Cold Light Of Morning’, his influence on Molko becomes crystal clear.

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