Leonard Cohen Death: Canada's Prime Minister and Music Community Remember Legendary Singer

Billboard

Canadians have quickly responded to the death of Leonard Cohen, an extraordinary voice and songwriter, whose latest album, You Want It Darker, was released just a few weeks ago.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted twice about the man who was a Companion of the Order of Canada (the country's highest honor bestowed upon a civilian). Trudeau's first message carried an official tone, his second quoting lyrics to Cohen' oft-covered classic "Hallelujah."

"No other artist's music felt or sounded like Leonard Cohen's. Yet his work resonated across generations. Canada and the world will miss him," said the tweet in English and French. 

"There's a blaze of light / In every word / It doesn't matter which you heard / The holy or the broken Hallelujah #RIPLeonard" read the other.

There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah#RIPLeonard- Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 11, 2016

k.d lang, who sang a gorgeous version of "Hallejulah" at the 2010 Winter Olympics, tweeted "Thank you Leonard Cohen. Swift rebirth my friend."

Thank you Leonard Cohen ----
Swift rebirth my friend.- k.d. lang (@kdlang) November 11, 2016

pic.twitter.com/W7dcd8ONlt

- k.d. lang (@kdlang) November 11, 2016

Ron Sexsmith tweeted "RIP LEONARD COHEN .Devastating news...My life was forever changed by his music and words. He'll will never be forgotten Love Always RS."

RIP LEONARD COHEN
Devastating news...My life was forever changed by his music and words
He'll will never be forgotten Love Always RS- Ron Sexsmith (@RonSexsmith) November 11, 2016

He then added: "One of the best days of my life was singing "So Long Marianne"  with Leonard and Steven Page RS" and provided the link. 

One of the best days of my life was singing "So Long Marianne" with Leonard and Steven Page RS https://t.co/m5qf2Fy6hO via @YouTube

- Ron Sexsmith (@RonSexsmith) November 11, 2016

Steven Page tweeted a line from Cohen's "The Future"."The blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold."

The blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold. @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts https://t.co/iAqT8cd1q3

- steven page (@stevenpage) November 11, 2016

Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida sent Billboard these words: "Leonard had a unique ability to elevate our senses through his poetry & songs. He made love more profound. Sex more seductive. Virtue more noble. Death more tragic & sin more tempting."

Anne Murray told Billboard: "I had the privilege of recording one of Leonard Cohen's songs. He was a fine songwriter and a remarkable artist."   

April Wine's Myles Goodwyn said: "To say that Leonard Cohen was a one of a kind poet, singer, songwriter, would be irreverent. He was so unique and extraordinary and so loved, that words fail to describe the loss we feel at the sad news of his passing. Tonight he will be singing Hallelujah with a choir of angels at his side. Far above us and here on earth, his music lives on... "Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah."


Denise Donlon, the former Sony Music Canada president and MuchMusic/MuchMoreMusic general manager, who had her book launch this evening in Toronto attended by many industry executives, told a story onstage about Cohen before news of his passing was announced. Donlon later shared an email: "Your place in my heart is as secure as ever…" and ended "Your old friend, Leonard." 

Reached after learning of his death, she told Billboard, "I am gutted to hear the news. Leonard was the consummate artist. I've never met nor worked with his like. A true gentleman, a poet, a visionary and an artist in the truest sense of the word. His work urged us to think deeply, question convention, seek to find the best in ourselves and rise above the worst in us. He was cheeky and buoyant, a champion of beauty and truth. He will be missed and rightly honored by the world." 


Eric Baptiste, CEO of Canada's performing rights organization SOCAN: "Leonard Cohen was a legend among legends. With iconic songs that defined an entire era, he inspired many generations all over the world. SOCAN was honored to count him among our most prominent members. He will be sorely missed, but his songs will live on."

Farley Flex, who managed Canadian hip hop pioneer Maestro Fresh Wes, told Billboard an amusing story of meeting Cohen at the Juno Awards backstage in Vancouver. "Wes was introduced to Leonard and all I remember was Leonard saying in his uniquely cool, descriptive voice, 'I am the original rapper.' Wes smiled; I smiled and that was it."

Al Mair, founder, Attic Records: "Running a successful label and publishing company, only one creator ever thanked me when they received royalties in the mail...Leonard Cohen."

Don Allan, director/owner, Revolver Films: "While shooting 'I Am a Hotel' we were on set blowing papers and then rose petals at Leonard and during the absurdity of it all he ended up getting the giggles and could not keep a straight face. Leonard told me he had not laughed like that in years. It was one of some special moments I had with him. A year or so and about 14 awards later Leonard called me up to join him for a drink to celebrate and catch up. I joined him at the Windsor Arms (his favorite Toronto hotel) and he invited me to his room rather than the bar. He was excited about a video idea he had for a new song he was yet to record. He told me his idea as I sat on the edge of his bed and he paced around the room. He then recited the complete lyrics to the song: "First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin..." and I was blown away. I am honored to have witnessed his greatness first hand. I am currently in L.A. and was about to reach out to try to see him. Sorry I missed you my friend. He is now soaring with angels..."Hallelujah" my friend!

Amber Meredith, former director of marketing for Sony Music Canada, who worked with Cohen on the global release of Ten New Songs: "Honored to have known this man. Leonard, your words and songs moved me, inspired me, and consoled me in many dark days. Grieving my loss and the world's loss tonight. Good night, sir. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in …

Paul Cantin, former music journalist at the Ottawa Sun: "I had the privilege to spend several hours with Leonard Cohen, who passed away today, and it wasn't just one of the best and most memorable interviews I ever had the pleasure to undertake, it was one of the best experiences of my life." He wrote: "The thing about meeting your heroes is they can rarely equal the expectations and esteem they've accumulated in your imagination. Leonard Cohen, who passed away today, exceeded all of my lofty expectations. His honesty. His generosity. His wisdom. His humor. His warmth. I have never forgotten it."

Jane Harbury, publicist: "Leonard Cohen. One of my favorite memories. A Juno awards. Somewhere in the '90s. Media room and he had won an award. Came in. Sat at a table holding award and said to the packed media room "thank you. Only in Canada could I win award for Best Male Vocalist"!!! Have other stories but def one of my faves. RIP master of words."

Chantal Kreviazuk, singer-songwriter: "He was a genius. A god damned genius. There will never be another like him."

Kevin Parent, multi-platinum Quebec artist: "A teacher, a priest.. his words brought me comfort as a boy... he described the awkwardness of love as i was playing with toys." 

Shawn Hook, singer-songwriter: "When I first started writing songs, I read a book called songwriters on songwriting. I remember reading about Leonard Cohen and the way he approached songwriting. He never settled or compromised on his lyrics.   He would write multiple verses in a song until he was satisfied.  His integrity and attention to detail in his craft was extraordinary.  He will be remember as one of Canada's proudest exports and one of the worlds greatest songwriters of all time. I will forever be inspired by his profound body of work."

Richard Zuckerman, former A&R exec at Sony Music Canada: "When I was a teenager so many years ago back in Glasgow I would play my guitar and sing all his amazing, mystical, moving songs "Suzanne," "So Long Marianne," "Bird on the Wire," "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye"...I passed my Higher English Exam only because I knew every lyric and when I was asked to quote a 'modern day poet'... there was Leonard. 20 years later while in New York at CBS International I was introduced to my childhood idol and became his 'A&R man' Leonard didn't have or need a real A&R person I was just his 'point person' at the record company which for me was the greatest privilege of my music business career. "I'm Your Man" was released in 1988 and when I moved to Canada in 1989 because of my close association his contract followed me to the Canadian company. We worked together for the next 10 years. Working as a record executive I always had to behave in a professional manner with Leonard however deep down I was and still am just a wee excited Glaswegian fan of one of the greatest, influential, sincere, prolific artist I have ever heard. R.I.P Leonard Cohen."

Wade MacNeil, of the bands Gallows, Black Lungs and Alexisonfire; and on-air host at Toronto's 102.1 The Edge, tweeted:  "Rest In Peace to an artist that every artist strives to be like…"

Rest In Peace to an artist that every artist strives to be like... pic.twitter.com/2WQvLBv4wT

- Wade MacNeil (@wade_macneil) November 11, 2016

David Desrosiers ‏of Montreal pop/rock band Simple Plan: "It's a very sad night... the world just lost such a timeless poet... Rest in peace Leonard Cohen."

It's a very sad night... the world just lost such a timeless poet... Rest in peace Leonard Cohen.

- David Desrosiers (@daviddesrosiers) November 11, 2016

David Bason, manager and label exec:  "When I was a kid we liked punk rock. We liked it aggressive and with a message. There was this weird kid around the corner from us who was always hanging around but was never quite accepted...He showed up uninvited one day…and he said 'You guys listen to all that punk rock but you know who's a bad ass?? Leonard Cohen'. I said 'That guy who plays a nylon string guitar...isn't he like...folk music or something??' He yelled 'Are you kidding me...She gave me head on the unmade bed... that's 10 times more punk rock than that shit you're listening to'. He was right. Then I started asking around about Leonard Cohen. Turns out he taught poetry at McGill University when my mom studied there. My mom likes this guy? OK, I'm in. So I dug in and it's been a special relationship ever since... I sift through his poetry and laugh out loud at the thought of a Buddhist monk sitting atop a mountain chanting as he longs for the women he used to know. I put on his records and shake my head at his never-ending fascination with the stock pre-programmed beats on Casio keyboards. With every repeated listen or read I would think "how cool is this guy". And even after he got ripped off for everything he owned he never stopped creating and he never got bitter.. New album out now. That's the way to go."

Shaun Frank, artist/producer and co-writer of The Chainsmokers' "Closer": "My father used to play his records when I was growing up, and his lyrics and use of poetry in song always really inspired me. I think he may have been one of the most underrated songwriters of all time. Much love to his family and friends celebrating his life at the moment."