Leonard Cohen was an artist who was expertly skilled at remaining understated. Even as his death seemingly approached, Cohen was still more than happy to play the confounding observer and critic rather than welcome a fanfare of self-fellatio.
Like many of us out there, we at Far Out considers ourselves to be huge admirers of the poet turned iconic singer—but when we dug into it we realised that we had only ever scratched the surface. Below we’ve dug a little deeper and compiled a mammoth 352-track playlist which chronicles the singer’s life near the limelight and his sad passing.
As with every good story, and following the advice of Julie Andrews, the beginning is a very good place to start. It just so happens that Leonard Cohen’s beginning started better than most people can hope to achieve. The first song of the playlist comes from Cohen’s first album Songs of Leonard Cohen and remains to this day one of his most iconic numbers, ‘Suzanne’.
It was the start of a journey which travelled through nearly six decades and marked Cohen out as one of the most gifted, if not undervalued, songwriters of his generation. Able to beguile and bewitch as easily as he could lay the cold hard facts in front of you, Cohen made a name for himself as a thinking man’s musician.
It was a moniker, however unwanted, that Cohen would continue to establish throughout his 15 studio albums. Always looking to break new emotional or spiritual ground, the singer was equally happy reflecting the society he saw and opening up himself to his audience.
Perhaps what makes this collection so interesting though is that aside from the 15 studio albums (of which we’d say you should pay very close attention to Songs of Leonard Cohen, Songs of Love and Hate, Death of a Ladies Man, Various Positions and 2016’s You Want It Darker), that his live albums hold just as much value.
With the live releases of some of an artist’s most iconic performances, there is always a chance that they are either, churning a new record out to cash in or simply regurgitating something they know their fans will love. Somehow, Cohen manages to avoid both live album tropes and instead his releases feel poignant and needed. Simply put, listening to Leonard Cohen live is still something everyone should do.
As well as You Want It Darker, the last record Cohen put out, there is also the album he and his son were working on before his death. It’s a poignant moment as father passes the baton to son to finish his work. It’s an extra moving release that feels more incisive with every listen.
So, if like us, you thought you were a Leonard Cohen fan but weren’t sure where the extra 300+ tracks came from, then take a moment (or around 29 hours) and dive head first into this ultimate Leonard Cohen playlist.