Arts and Entertainment

Does success in one genre guarantee it in another?

Folk America, The Barbican, London

Old-time ramblers and other clichés

The Leisure Society, Bush Hall, London

The Leisure Society were strangely absent from various lists of forthcoming stars of 2009 – which means either that they were the victims of an outrageous slight, or that the acts chosen ahead of them must be amazingly good.

2008: The year in ideas

What were the shafts of original thinking that illuminated a gloomy world in 2008? Here, <i>Independent</i> writers pick 10 of the best

Howard Jacobson: Few can do love and loss like the Old Testament &ndash; except Leonard Cohen

Can you see where the singer got his taste for the eroticism of betrayal?

Leading article: Lighten up

They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. But to suggest that now we have got the longest night of the year out of the way, things can (as a famous song once put it) only get better would, sadly, be stretching it a bit.

Glory, glory as 'Hallelujah' dominates Christmas chart

Hallelujah, "Hallelujah". The X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke won the battle for Christmas No 1 with her cover of Leonard Cohen's song – beating a version by Jeff Buckley, who drowned aged 30 in May 1997, into second place.

Leading article: The year we learned to dance lightly

Everything that we thought we knew was turned upside down in 2008. Gordon Brown was finished. Inflation was a bit of a worry. Unfunded tax cuts were the kind of nonsense that lost votes. America would never elect a black president. Simon Cowell had had his day.

Andy McSmith: Cohen's verses can be cut to fit

Writing "Hallelujah" cost the Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen a lot of time and pain. He just kept on writing verse after verse, for years on end, until he had completed about 80. Then he threw most of them away.

Hallelujah - a song with a life of its own

The X Factor winner's single will be a cover of Leonard Cohen's glorious spiritual hymn, following versions by Dylan, Jeff Buckley and many others. Purists may wince, but this great song has taken on a life of its own. By Elisa Bray

Letters: Terrorism, terrorists, them and us

Keep blaming 'them' and the terror will go on

Howard Jacobson: Thanks to Leonard Cohen, I can see the light that slips through the crack

It&rsquo;s like a reprimand to people of my temperament. Could he be singing to me?

Pandora: Opik's anti-terror crusade continues

He may be down but the man's not out: having lost out on the Liberal Democrat presidency, Lembit Opik has no intention of going quietly.

David Lister: Who cares about yesterday's men?

Journalists never fare very well with David Hare. The playwright once wrote that "The Independent is staffed by fools who know nothing about art". That was this paper consigned to the cultural dustbin. And in his latest play, the profession as a whole gets short shrift. The token journalist is, as our critic put it, a "slimeball" who sleeps with the home secretary's daughter, when she is only 16.

Boyd Tonkin: Breaking the ice for poetry and pop

The Week in Books

Fionn Regan, 229, London

A haunting wail of harmonica signals the arrival of Fionn Regan. Standing in the spotlight, battered guitar draped around his neck, you could be forgiven for getting caught up in the moment.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project