Leonard Cohen, 1934 – 2016

We grew up in the same town, Montreal. And even though his age placed him more in my parents generation, he defined the youthful energy of Montreal in the 60’s and 70’s: respectfully contrary, with one foot in the old world and one in the new, sophisticated and urbane. This modest, gracious Jewish gentleman whose poems and songs tried to work through the paradoxes, the beautiful victories and the terrible defeats of life and love, taught us what it was to be cool.

He came backstage after one of our shows in LA in the late 80’s with the most strikingly beautiful woman on his arm. The next day at our show, somewhere down the coast, two dozen yellow roses showed up with a note; “Thank you for your music and hospitality – Leonard”. Many years later he sat in the first balcony at Massey Hall where, along with our peers and contemporaries, we saluted him in song. But my favourite memory takes place outside a concert hall in Vancouver after he had just been inducted in to the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame. My wife and I were trying to hail a cab. Beside us was a dapper looking older man (he would have been close to my current age) standing alone, waiting for a cab or his car. It was Leonard Cohen. I went up to him and introduced myself. He held my hand for an extra beat and slowly intoned, “cooool band”. So long Leonard, you taught us well.