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30 Great Covers of Leonard Cohen Songs (That Aren’t “Hallelujah”)

on January 27, 2012, 1:00am
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 “You moved in slow degrees/A sudden memory/You’re a Leonard Cohen song”

 - Better Than Ezra, “Under You”

“But I was caught, like a fleeting thought / Stuck inside Leonard Cohen’s mind”

- Mercury Rev, “A Drop In Time”

“Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld / So I can sigh eternally”

- Nirvana, “Pennyroyal Tea”

It’s almost unbelievable now to think that we almost never heard Leonard Cohen, the singer. A well-regarded poet from the late 1950s through the mid-’60s, it was Judy Collins who encouraged the middle-aged Canadian writer to try his hand at performing his own songs, and the rest is history. She also had a successful cover of Cohen’s “Suzanne”. Nearing half a century and 12 albums later, Cohen is one of the most celebrated and critically-acclaimed artists of the era. He’s also one of the most covered songwriters alive, with songs like “Suzanne” and “Hallelujah” registering several hundred different recordings alone. To celebrate the arrival of Old Ideas, his first new studio album in eight years, we’ve collected 30 great covers of Cohen songs for your listening pleasure. For sake of brevity, this list sticks to a one-song-per-artist rule, with other exceptional covers by a musician cited in several cases. The list also doesn’t include any covers of “Hallelujah”, because everyone and their father has covered that one, and only a few come close to the Jeff Buckley version. (A few of the best ones are mentioned in the entries below, if you’d like to look them up for yourself.)

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August 14, 2014 at 6:15 pm

The Once “Coming Back to you” is worth checking out:

Darren Poon
June 27, 2013 at 12:16 am

Feist’s cover of “Closing Time” in the film “Take This Waltz” was awesome. Too bad it was never recorded…

June 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm

This list needs Father John Misty’s cover of “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong.”

Corey Bell
April 4, 2013 at 2:58 am

Tori’s cover of “Suzanne” is absolutely sublime, as is Rufus Wainwright’s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2″

Kevin Corcoran Jr
January 30, 2012 at 1:13 am

Mr. Cohen is more than just a legendary musical artist. He’s an inspiration. A role model. A hero. A work of art. One of the last threads of a musical gentleman that we are still holding onto. I think a revolution could form in Leonard’s name. An attempt to regain what was once considered great music. Rejoice, friends, let’s cherish this great man’s career and his ability to put out a brand new album that will claim a place on the shelf next to his antique LP’s.

Carl Wilson
January 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm

That Julee Cruise “Everybody Knows” is not a version of the Cohen “Everybody Knows.” It’s a different lyric and melody altogether.

Sara Miller
January 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Great article! With Old Ideas on the horizon (ahh!!!), we can only hope to see this amazing covered even more. :)

Brittany Brave
January 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm

It’s a huge challenge to cover Cohen, but it must be so enjoyable to feel that connected to him. Speaking of covers, the campaign “Old Ideas with New Friends” is out now, where contemporary artists cover his classics to support his new record on 1/31. This blend of old and new generations and ideas is exactly what Cohen is all about! This one from Cold War Kids is freaking awesome.

Charlotte Kim
January 28, 2012 at 12:31 am

I love Leonard’s quote at the end.  This really shows how much much of an inspiration he’s been to the music world.  And i’m thrilled to hear that a new Leonard Cohen album “Old Ideas” is going to be released Jan 31st!  His new song “Darkness” is amazing


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