Review #195: Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen

Karla Clifton
3 min readNov 5, 2021

#195: Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen

This was Cohen’s debut, and he was 33 when he released it. So he was a young man, but in singer-songwriter years, he was surprisingly old.

For reference, “Hallelujah” was released in 1984, nearly twenty years after this album. So he was freaking fifty when he released his major hit.

While researching this album, I learned that Cohen was a super interesting dude. For instance, did you know that Cohen recorded this album while looking at himself play in a full-length mirror? Yeah. AND he hung out with Andy Warhol and his Factory!

He was also a published poet before transitioning to songwriting. That probably explains the mirror.

By the way, if the cover leaves a little bit to be desired, take a look at the back cover. It’s an image of the Anima Sola, a woman breaking free of her chains in purgatory.


“Suzanne” — Lovely song that’s been done to death, almost as much as “Hallelujah” has. Apparently there was some hullaballoo about the rights to this song — Cohen said several times that he didn’t read the contract he signed for this song, so he didn’t make as much money off of it as he should have.

“Master Song” — You can tell he hung out with Andy Warhol, because he sounds so much like Lou Reed.

“Winter Lady” — I have a weakness for songs that are basically poems. This album is so full of lovely lines that I had to stop myself from quoting the whole thing in full. For instance: I’m just a station on your way.

“The Stranger Song” — And: Just some Joseph looking for a manger.

“Sisters of Mercy” — This one has a kind of wild backstory: Cohen let two backpackers crash in his hotel room and wrote the whole song while they were sleeping. How come that never happens to me?

“So Long, Marianne” — This is the the only one that sort of swings a little. By the way, that background singer on this one and the next one is Nancy Priddy, Christina Applegate’s mom.

“Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” — My favorite one — Nancy Priddy’s Hey in the background is gorgeous. Our steps will always rhyme.

“Stories of the Street” — When his voice breaks on One eye filled with blueprints.

“Teachers” — This one stresses me out, and the lyrics are so bittersweet. You never stop learning how to break your own heart.

“One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong” — This song is about how in love he was with Nico! I kind of ripped into her on my review of the banana record — what do I know, I guess.


Not a one.


The wannabe poet in me loves this so much. Bob Dylan is a sublime poet, but he suffers a bit from overexposure: if you’re not a Dylan fan, you probably get sick of hearing his name. Leonard Cohen is the perfect cult superstar.

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