THE BLOG
09/22/2014 02:35 pm ET Updated Nov 22, 2014

Leonard Cohen at 80

Anybody familiar with Leonard Cohen knows the haunting often depressing beauty of his lyrics. In his early years performing, Mr. Cohen's unrelenting grimness became something of a joke. The British media, for example, in the 1960s and 1970s frequently referred to him as "Laughing Len." Laughing Len turns 80 today; and his music can still invoke great sadness. The first verse of one of the songs on his newest album is as depressing as anything Mr. Cohen wrote in the 1960s or 1970s. "I saw some people starving. There was murder; there was rape. Their villages were burning.They were trying to escape. I couldn't meet their glances. I was staring at my shoes. It was acid; it was tragic. It was almost like the blues."

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