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The Essential Leonard Cohen

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iTunes Review

Though he began his career as a poet and novelist, Leonard Cohen’s transition to song was easier than his limited singing skills might suggest. Never one blessed with great range or exceptional timbre, Cohen played to these weaknesses and made them his strengths, evoking humility and an aching sadness in his meticulously detailed stories of hope and doom. This hand-picked 31-track collection from the 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee traces his career from ‘60s troubadour to modern day prophet of love and apocalypse. “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire,” and “Famous Blue Raincoat” are virtually standards. But Cohen’s catalog is extensive and satisfying, and his later work in the 1980s and beyond — when his voice deepens to a Biblical croak and his arrangements settle into an unusual, synthetic dance with death — are filled with stunning imagery and unsettling conclusions. “First We Take Manhattan” sounds like a spy film gone awry. “Democracy” and “The Future” deliver hope while flirting with the notion that all time is uncertain. Later tracks such as “Alexandra Leaving” and “A Thousand Kisses Deep” prove you’re never too old to find the romance in longing and love.

Customer Reviews

Not an accurate summation of the artist's work

It leaves out far too many early tracks, sticking with perennials & oodles of later material. By track 12 on the first (of two) discs, we've already covered the 60's & 70's material. "Death of a Lady's Man" is completely overlooked & "Recent Songs" is woefully under-represented. If you own the Springsteen or Neil Diamond "Essentials" collection, you'll notice a similarity (which is comprehensible from a marketing stand-point)- leaving out essential tracks so the individual albums aren't obsolete. Just buy the original albums- the aftertaste I've gotten off these compilations with a woefully selective memory is diet-caffeine-free-esque!

Great Album & Perfect Choice For New Listeners

This is a great album, and though I do agree it left out a lot of the good tracks, it's a really nice compilation for people who are not familiar with his works. This was my first Cohen album, I have since purchased more. If your looking to buy someone a gift, this would be a perfect choice for new fans.

The Essential

i dont know why everyones complaining i thought this had a lot of good songs on it (so long marianne, chelsea hotel, etc) .. and yeah its missing some stuff (ie: dress rehearsal rag which is the best song in my opinion) but leonard has way too many good songs to fit them all on one disc. and its not like itunes doesnt have the other songs elsewhere


Born: September 21, 1934 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most fascinating and enigmatic -- if not the most successful -- singer/songwriters of the late '60s, Leonard Cohen retained an audience across six decades of music-making, interrupted by various digressions into personal and creative exploration, all of which have only added to the mystique surrounding him. Second only to Bob Dylan (and perhaps Paul Simon), he commanded the attention of critics and younger musicians more firmly than any other musical figure from the '60s who continued...
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