You have probably learned that the renowned poet-singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen, passed away last week. I have never been an avid follower of him or any musician really. but I have always been aware of Cohen, ever since I was introduced to him in a Can Lit class around 1968-69.
Although enticing students to poetry through music has become somewhat commonplace, our prof broke the mold for me back then when she played two of Cohen's songs. This student had never hear of poetry presented that way and certainly hadn't heard of Leonard Cohen either. But I did hear Suzanne that day, which really stood out for me, I'm sure partly because I was going out with my own Susanne at the time (and still am).
There was another song, but I don't remember it. I thought that it might be So Long, Marianne, and it may have been, but it didn't ring any bells for me when I clicked it on YouTube.
Of course, his most famous song is Hallelujah. While I can't say that I've heard every version (who has?), I can say that I think kd lang's version has to be the best, and I don't seem to be alone in that opinion.
Ten years ago, I found myself watching Leonard Cohen being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on television. kd lang sang for him at the ceremony, and it was astounding. If you watch the clip you will see Cohen and lang embracing after the performance. She also sang it at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, but this video is the one she sang for Cohen.
This page from the Toronto Star will link you to other performances of Hallelujah, including Bono's and Bon Jovi's, but lang's is simply the best in my very humble opinion. However, I also like the version near the end of the list: the big, 1500 voice choir. What a thrill it would be to sing that song in that choir: a lifetime memory for those people, I'm sure!
I will, however, link two more videos below for those who are still here. The first is Cohen's own performance of Hallelujah and the second is very old footage of him singing Suzanne.