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Leonard Cohen: Music's 'godfather of gloom' is ready to die

Heather Saul
Wednesday 12 October 2016 15:07
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Canadian singer and poet Leonard Cohen takes off his hat to salute on January 16, 2012 in Paris.
Canadian singer and poet Leonard Cohen takes off his hat to salute on January 16, 2012 in Paris.

The way Leonard Cohen confronts mortality has been demonstrated both in his music and in his remarks on a number of occasions and is a conceit for his forthcoming album, You Want it Darker.

But one of the most celebrated and melancholy musicians was more explicit about his feelings on death in a profile for the New Yorker. “I am ready to die,” he said. “I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”

The “godfather of gloom”, 82, spoke about his “proximity” to death and the way in which he is tying up the strands of his life in preparation for this. Cohen said his focus was now on those closest to him, ensuring their financial security after his passing and completing as much of his unfinished work as possible.

“At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels.”

In August, he penned a final letter to his muse Marianne Ihlen, before she passed away on 29 July, aged 81, in which he wrote of his belief that they would both leave this mortal coil soon.

“Well Marianne it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon,” he was reported to have written.

Ihlen died a few days after receiving his letter.

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