Opinion

Leonard Cohen did Tacoma (sort of)

From the Editorial Board

Leonard Cohen performs during the first day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., in 2009.
Leonard Cohen performs during the first day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., in 2009. Associated Press file, 2009

Acclaimed songwriter-poet Leonard Cohen, who died last week at age 82, was not a modern pop star, nor a high-profile hitmaker in the vein of the people he influenced. But the countless remakes of his lovely piano hymn “Hallelujah” made it a standard among people of all ages.

When “Saturday Night Live” actress Kate McKinnon performed “Hallelujah” in the opener of last weekend’s show, it was both a tribute to Cohen and a requiem to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

With a voice bleakly Dylanesque and lyrics often dark, Cohen inspired music legends including U2, Elton John and Bob Dylan himself. President Obama once said he had the Cohen song “Suzanne” on his summer evening playlist.

Cohen was a Canadian by birth; he also found creative refuge in Greece, Los Angeles, Nashville and New York’s Greenwich Village.

As it happens, Tacoma crops up in his prolific oeuvre, too. The closing song on his 1992 studio album “The Future” is a languid keyboard instrumental titled “Tacoma Trailer.” We don’t know if it was motivated by a Cohen pilgrimage to the City of Destiny. But a close listen reveals the artist’s seamless blend of dark and light, almost like Tacoma itself.

  Comments