Why is Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Leonard Cohen on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Melancholy and hauntingly beautiful, with lyrics that are strikingly original and poetic.
Some stats & info about Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Singer Songwriter, Folk, Folk Rock, Pop, Pop Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #195
- All Music’s rating – 5 of 5 stars
- When was Songs of Leonard Cohen released? 1967
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #888 out of 1,000
Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
To kick off this exploration of Leonard Cohen’s 1967 album, let’s head back to the year when Leonard Cohen entered my life, which was 1993.
It’s very likely that I first heard the name Leonard Cohen – and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same is true for many of my specific Generation X-ish, sububurban-ish, American generation – out of the mouth of Kurt Cobain, on Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea,” off the In Utero album, which was released in 1993.
Here’s the fantastic version from Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album.
But Leonard Cohen really popped onto my radar from the really bizarre, really dark, and really violent 1994 film, Natural Born Killers. I’m pretty sure my estimation of the movie is bumped up a few notches by its great music overall, but especially due to Leonard Cohen’s incredible song, “Waiting For the Miracle.”
It has much in common with Songs of Leonard Cohen in that it’s so melancholy and hauntingly beautiful, with lyrics that are strikingly original and poetic. Cohen’s delivery too is absolutely unique, kind of spoken but with great emotion and intelligence.
Zooming back to 1967, Leonard Cohen’s voice is a generation younger and gentler, but the emotion and delivery and incredibly singular and poetic lyrics are all there throughout the album. And, indeed, Cohen was an established writer and poet before he got into the music game.
“Suzanne,” the first track on Songs of Leonard Cohen, is quite a journey, “about the mysterious forces that bring people together and, then, just as inexplicably, move them apart,” via American Songwriter. It’s also sweet, sad, and moving.
“Sisters of Mercy” feels like the saddest carnival that you don’t want to leave.
As unique as Songs of Leonard Cohen is, you can certainly hear the influences of other pioneering singer songwriters and folk artists of the day, particularly Bob Dylan (and particularly songs like “Stories of the Street”). “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” on the other hand, has something of a Simon & Garfunkel vibe.