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Leonard Cohen
Biographical Information

Birth Date:September 21, 1934
Astrology Sign:Virgo
Chinese Sign:Dog - Yin
Birth Name:Leonard Norman Cohen
Birth Place:Montreal, Quebec, Canada


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Leonard Cohen

Biography:Leonard Cohen

Early life Cohen was born to a middle-class Jewish family of Polish ancestry in 1934 in Montreal, Quebec. He grew up in Westmount on the Island of Montreal. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial Montreal clothing store, died when Leonard was nine years old. Like many other Jews named Cohen, Katz, Kagan, etc., his family made a proud claim of descent from the priestly Kohanim: "I had a very Messianic childhood," he told Richard Goldstein in 1967, "I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest." As a teenager he learned to play the guitar and formed a country-folk group called the Buckskin Boys. His father's will provided Leonard with a modest trust income, sufficient to allow him to freely pursue his literary ambitions for some time without risking economic ruin.

Cohen idealized his father and his death threw him into a deep depression. As he grew older he began taking the then legal drug LSD as a treatment. Cohen has said that he believes the drug opened his awareness to the "hypocrisy" and "self-delusion" that are "common traits of humanity," ideas which are prominent themes in his songs. His depression did not lift until the late 1990s. His mother Masha Cohen, from whom he inherited his love for songs and poets, died in 1978.

Development as a poet In 1951, Cohen enrolled at McGill University, where he was president of the McGill Debating Union and pursued a career as a poet. His first poetry book, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), was published while he was an undergraduate. The Spice-Box of Earth (1961) made him well-known in poetry circles, especially in his native Canada.

Cohen applied a strong work ethic to his early and keen literary ambitions. He wrote poetry and fiction through much of the 1960s, and preferred even as a young man to live in quasi-reclusive circumstances. After moving to Hydra, a Greek island, Cohen published the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964), and the novels The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966). The Favourite Game is an autobiographical bildungsroman about a young man finding his identity in writing. In contrast, Beautiful Losers can be considered as an 'anti-bildungsroman' since it — in an early postmodern fashion — deconstructs the identity of the main characters by combining the sacred and the profane, religion and sexuality in a rich, lyrical language. Reflecting Cohen's Québécois roots, but perhaps unusually for someone from a Jewish background, a secondary plot in Beautiful Losers concerns Tekakwitha, the Roman Catholic Iroquois mystic. Beautiful Losers, greeted initially with shock by Canadian reviewers who berated it for its explicit sexual content, is today considered by many critics to be among the finest literary novels of the 1960s. For a good early survey of Cohen's written work, see Leonard Cohen by Steven Scobie (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1978).

Music In 1967, Cohen relocated to the United States to pursue a career as a folk singer-songwriter. His song "Suzanne" became a hit for Judy Collins, and after performing at a few folk festivals, Cohen was discovered by John H. Hammond, the same Columbia Records representative who discovered Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, among others.

The sound of Cohen's first album Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) was much too downtrodden to be a commercial success, but was widely acclaimed by folk music buffs and by Cohen's peers. He became a cult name in the UK, where it spent over a year on the album charts. He followed up with Songs from a Room (1969) (featuring the oft-covered "Bird on the Wire"), Songs of Love and Hate (1971), and New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974).

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cohen toured the United States, Canada and Europe. In 1973, Cohen toured Israel and performed at army bases during the Yom Kippur War. Beginning around 1974, his collaboration with pianist/arranger John Lissauer created a live sound almost universally praised by the critics, but never really captured on record. During his time, Cohen often toured with Jennifer Warnes as a back-up singer. Warnes would become a fixture on Cohen's future albums and recorded an album of Cohen songs in 1987, Famous Blue Raincoat.

In 1977, Cohen released an album called Death of a Ladies' Man (note the plural possessive case; one year later in 1978, Cohen released a volume of poetry with the coyly revised title, Death of a Lady's Man). The album was produced by Phil Spector, well known as the inventor of the "wall of sound" technique, in which pop music is backed with thick layers of instrumentation— an approach much different from Cohen's usually minimalist instrumentation. The recording of the album was a complete fiasco. Spector reportedly mixed the album in secret studio sessions and Cohen said Spector once threatened him at gunpoint. The end result was considered gaudy and ostentatious, and Cohen's songs were considered some of his weakest as well.

In 1979, Cohen returned with the more traditional Recent Songs. Produced by Cohen himself, and Henry Lewy (Joni Mitchell's sound engineer), album included performances by jazz fusion band, introduced to Cohen by Mitchell, and oriental instruments (oud, Gypsy violin, mandolin). In 2001, Cohen referred to Recent Songs as his best album, releasing the live version of songs from its 1979 tour on record Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979.

In 1984, Cohen released Various Positions, featuring the oft-covered "Hallelujah," but Columbia declined to release the album in the United States, where Cohen's popularity had declined in recent years. (Throughout his career, Cohen's music has sold better in Europe and Canada than in the U.S.—he once satirically expressed how touched he is at the modesty the American company has shown in promoting his records.)

In 1986 he made a guest appearance in an episode of the TV series Miami Vice.

In 1987, Jennifer Warnes' tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat helped restore Cohen's career in the U.S., and the following year he released I'm Your Man, which marked a drastic change in his music. Synthesizers ruled the album, although in a much more subdued manner than on Death of a Ladies' Man, and Cohen's lyrics included more social commentary and dark humour. It was Cohen's most acclaimed and popular since Songs of Leonard Cohen, and "First We Take Manhattan" and the title song became two of his most popular songs. The use of the album track "Everybody Knows" (co-written by Sharon Robinson in the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume helped to expose Cohen's music to a younger audience.

He followed with another acclaimed album, The Future, in 1992. The Future is his most political album to date, articulating a politics to urge (more often than not in terms of biblical prophecy) perseverance, reformation, and even hope in the face of prospects ranging from the grim to the dire. The title track was featured in the controversial movie Natural Born Killers.

In the title track Cohen prophesies impending political and social collapse, reportedly as his response to the L.A. unrest of 1992: "I've seen the future, brother: It is murder." Some describe it as anti-abortion due to the lyrics "destroy another fetus now, We don't like children anyhow. I've see the future, baby, it is murder".

In "Democracy," Cohen, criticizes America but says he loves it: "I love the country but I can't stand the scene." Further, he describes his own politics as: "I'm neither left or right/I'm just staying home tonight/getting lost in that hopeless little screen."

Cohen's humility also shines through "Waiting for the Miracle" (co-written with Sharon Robinson), where he lampoons his own severity (along perhaps with his religious austerity and even his instrumentation), singing: "There ain't no entertainment and the judgments are severe/ The maestro says it's Mozart but it sounds like bubble-gum/ When you're waiting for the miracle to come." And in "Closing Time", Cohen gives the dire prophecies of "The Future" as forgiving and humble a reworking as is perhaps imaginable, observing biblical, personal, and political "end times" from the perspective of an old guy being kicked out of a sleazy but jubilant bar. The album ends with "Anthem" where in perhaps the album's best-loved and most-often-quoted passage, he urges perseverance and faith in the face of broken Liberty: "Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets in."

In 2001, following five years' seclusion as a zen Buddhist monk at the Mount Baldy Zen Center, Cohen returned to music with

Achievements: (Filmography)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (2005)
Motion Sickness (2005)
I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005)
Lifted or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002)
Fevers and Mirrors (2000)
Every Day and Every Night (2000)
Letting Off the Happiness (1998)
A Slight Case Of Overbombing: Greatest Hits Vol.1 (1993)
Some Girls Wander By Mistake (1992)
Vision Thing (1990)
Floodland (1987)
First and Last and Always (1985)

Chinese Horoscope for Leonard Cohen
Includes characteristics and Vices
Leonard Cohen's Chinese Horoscope
Chinese Year: February 14, 1934 - February 03, 1935
Birthday: September 21, 1934

The Dog is a Yin,
and is the Eleventh sign of the Chinese horoscope.


Personality and Character Cards:
Numerology is used to calculate tarot cards

Leonard Cohen's Personality Tarot Card Justice - Personality Card

Birthday: September 21, 1934

Balance, wisdom and a need for rational, logical solutions.

Leonard Cohen's Character Tarot Card The High Priestess - Character Card

Birthday: September 21, 1934

Wisdom, secrets to be revealed, and the development of intuition.

This year's Growth Tarot Card
Based on this year's birthday

Leonard Cohen's Growth Tarot Card The Emperor

Birthday: September 21, 2017

Material success, stability, authority and ambition.




Portions of famous people database was used with permission from Russell Grant from his book The Book of Birthdays Copyright © 1999, All rights reserved. Certain biographical material and photos licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, from Wikipedia, which is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

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