Leader comment: Cohen was a true artist

Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has passed away aged 82. Picture PA
Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has passed away aged 82. Picture PA
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If ever there was a nickname that was ill-deserved, it is the title which hung around the neck of Leonard Cohen - the Godfather of Gloom. Those uninitiated with his body of work might well be forgiven for regarding it as a good fit. A cursory listen of Mr Cohen’s baritone reveals a darkness that can easily be perceived as miserbalism.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This brilliant man with a deliciously dry sense of humour devoted his life to pondering some of life’s grandest mysteries. Though he seldom settled on a definitive answer, the curiosity and sensuality he expressed while on his quest gave the world immense joy, and inspired generations of musicians and writers.

Neither was the critical acclaim he received focused on his early work. Right up until his death at the age of 82, Mr Cohen was prolific, producing work that many of his fans consider on a par - if not superior - to his earlier recordings.

Considering his battles with depression, this was no mean feat, but he never found it difficult to reflect on the things other people shied away from. “There’s enjoyment that comes through seriousness,” he once said.

The recent award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan reignited the debate of how music can transcend its medium, but the poignancy and eloquence of Mr Cohen’s works had long posed the same questions to listeners.

Yes, he was a musician, and a poet and author too. But he was always greater than the sum of his parts. He was, quite simply, an artist, and in a year when the world has already lost so many of his kind, his passing will be felt especially keenly.