Acclaimed poet, artist, and songwriter Leonard Norman Cohen (1934-) was born on this day in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and began his soul searching as a writer at age nine when he buried a note to his dead father.
"I've been digging in the garden for years, looking for it," Cohen said. "Maybe that's all I'm doing, looking for the note."
Years later, he dedicated his first book of poems, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956) to his father and said grief's scar is "always left on one of the survivors--a scar that does not heal quickly."
This ability to search into the soul and speak raw truth has set him apart as a creative artist; Whether as a Greenwich Village bohemian, melancholy writer, or deadpan baritone "suspended between song and speech."
"There is a confusion between depression and seriousness. I happen to like the mode of seriousness. Itís peaceful and relaxing to me to be serious," he said. His passionate lyrics are a celebration of clean cadence. He said, "I always hear an invisible guitar behind my novels and poetry."
Cohen released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967. His songs, which he has called "muffled prayers," have been covered by hundreds of artists from Judy Collins to Neil Diamond to Jeff Buckley.
In 1994, Cohen took the name Jikan (silent one) and spent five years in a Zen monastery in the San Gabriel Mountains. "There's a similarity in the quality of the daily life" on the road and in the monastery, Cohen said. "There's just a sense of purpose."
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, Cohen said of faith, "The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show."