Leonard Cohen: a world of influences

As a follow-up to our last blog post, and in light of the recent “music influences” additions to the Infloox site, I thought I’d look into the influences of Leonard Cohen.

Since starting out as a poet in Montreal in the 50s, Cohen has lead a tumultous yet very interesting life.  He lived through one of the strongest musical periods that we’ve ever known, so it is no wonder that he was influenced by and in turn has influenced so many people.  His earliest works were poetry and prose, and here he found inspiration in the works of W. B. Yeats, Lord Byron and Henry Miller, to name a few. While some may assume that only musicians influence musicians, and likewise for authors of fiction, we can see here that it is not so. These literary  influences stayed with Cohen even later on, showing a strong impact on the unique song lyrics that he has come to be so well known for.

During the 60s and 70s, when Cohen started to make his mark as a singer-songwriter, he found himself spending more time soaking up inspiration from the other musicians and icons around him. Andy Warhol’s Factory Crowd became a new hang-out, and Warhol wondered once that the German singer/model, Nico, likely had a resounding impact on the music Cohen later went on to write. At the same time, he also had strong roots in the traditional European folk music that his ancestors had grown up with.

Around the same time, another songwriter was making waves: one Robert Allen Zimmerman, better known now as Bob Dylan. Dylan and Cohen had met each other and identifying with each other as they both came from strong Jewish backgrounds, found that over time they both started to influence each others’ work. So much so, that Dylan later covered a number of Cohen’s songs as a tribute to him.

Fast-forward to today and we can see that this massive mix of influences has definitely served Cohen well. With several awards and Hall of Fame inductions under his belt, he has certainly done well for himself. Perhaps we can all learn from this that influences do not necessarily have to come from just one source or one genre. Too often as writers, we get trapped in browsing through only the genre we’re writing. Head over to Infloox and lose yourself for a while by finding out where some of your favourite authors culled their inspiration from!

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One Comment on “Leonard Cohen: a world of influences”

  1. olehile Says:

    I wonder what was hapeppening in 1972 in the poem “The killers that run…”Can one explain who were the killers and from where


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