One of America’s greatest songwriters and poets died on Thursday at the age of 82. “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records,” Adam Cohen announced Thursday night. No further details about his death were provided and representatives for the singer could not be reached for comment.
A memorial is planned in Los Angeles, where Cohen lived for many years.
Cohen, who was born in Quebec, Canada, was already a successful novelist and poet when he moved to New York in 1966 to break into the music business. His many ardent fans, including numerous rock/folk stars and musicians, have compared his works to “spiritual prophecy,” with their many references to religion, “Jesus Christ and Jewish traditions,” in addition to love, sex, politics and regret, all in a search for “a kind of balance in the chaos of existence,” reports NPR.
Cohen’s best-known songs include “Bird on the Wire,” “Suzanne,” “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “The Future.” Cohen’s longtime romantic partner and muse Marianne Ihlen, whom he met while living on the Greek island of Hydra in the 1960s, was the inspiration for “So Long, Marianne,” another Cohen favorite covered by many artists, according to Reuters.
“Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon,” he emailed her in July when he learned she had just days to live. She died two days later, after reading his note.
Cohen’s last album released in October, You Want It Darker, is a meditation on mortality and was produced by his son, fellow musician Adam Cohen.
In an interview for the New Yorker Radio Hour this past summer, Cohen discussed his career, his spectacular final tours, and his preparation for the end. “I’m ready to die,” Cohen, who was suffering from many health issues, told David Remnick, “I like to tie up the strings. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order is, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities and the benefits of it are incalculable.”
Cohen is survived by his son Adam and daughter Lorca. He never married.