Even if it was just a minor object, we’ve all been victims of theft. Few of us though have had millions of dollars taken from us by a close friend, but that’s exactly what happened to legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. The performer’s manager, Kelley Lynch, stole more than $5 million dollars from him over an eight-year period—that’s a lot of albums and Leonard Cohen tickets. Lynch’s deeds resulted in years of legal troubles for the Canadian crooner.
In March of 2012, Lynch was arrested for violating a protection order which barred her from contacting the well-traveled troubadour. She was subsequently sentenced to 18 months in prison. In addressing her conviction, Cohen showed no malice or ill-will towards the woman who betrayed him and stole his life’s sayings. He even went so far as to pray for a spirit to “convert her heart from hatred to remorse.” That’s Leonard Cohen for you. He’s a true class act and a bona fide gentleman.
He’s also one of the most influential singer-songwriters in the history of popular music. He’s not a performer who’s achieved much mainstream success—although his 2012 opus, Old Ideas, went to number three on the Billboard 200 and Leonard Cohen tours are always well-received—but his music has inspired countless other artists across several generations.
Chances are good that the singer-songwriter you saw at the coffeehouse last week claims that Cohen’s 1988 offering I’m Your Man is their favorite album of all-time. And that edgy alternative folk-rock band that played at your favorite club over the weekend first got together so they could cover every track of Various Positions (1984).
You’ll likely hear a Cohen song covered by one of your favorite bands or performers long before you actually hear the original version. His music has been recorded by the likes of Don Henley, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M., Pixies, Tom Jones, Trisha Yearwood, Aaron Neville, Madeleine Peyroux, Judy Collins, Eric Burdon, Widespread Panic, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and Martha Wainwright. By the way, Cohen’s daughter had a child with Martha Wainwright’s brother, Rufus. As for Cohen, he’s been romantically linked to several women including actress Rebecca De Mornay, who is 25 years his junior.
Cohen’s music has also been featured in the movies Natural Born Killers, Wonder Boys, Pump Up The Volume, Watchmen, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Secretary, and The Good Thief. Some of his most famous songs include “Suzanne,” “So Long, Marianne,” “Bird on the Wire,” “Lover, Lover, Lover,” and “First We Take Manhattan.” His most famous song however, and the one most people know, even those who don’t know the name “Leonard Cohen,” is “Hallelujah.”
Leonard Norman Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 in Montreal, Quebec. While in high school he was interested in both music and poetry. In college, he focused on the latter and excelled. Upon graduation, Cohen attended law school for a term and then a year at Columbia but neither endeavor proved rewarding. In the late 1950s, he released his first book of poems, Let Us Compare Mythologies.
Cohen followed that up with The Spice-Box of Earth in 1961 and Flowers for Hitler in 1964. He also published two works of non-fiction. Cohen garnered much praise for his writing and it looked like he was going to be a man of letters but his next two works sold poorly and received lukewarm reviews. That’s when Cohen decided to focus on his music career. His debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, dropped in 1967.