Top Ten Thursdays: Top 10 Leonard Cohen Songs

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Leonard Cohen
It's the tour those of us younger Leonard Cohen fans -- the ones who discovered his music through the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, covers of "Hallelujah," or when we walked into a tiny used CD store in Gainesville and heard "Take This Waltz" playing -- never thought would happen.

After gaining fame and respect in the literary world, Cohen began his singing career in the late 1960s, issuing the most brilliantly erudite, sad-sack folk stuff ever penned. Then, with 1988's I'm Your Man album, he introduced humor to his work -- while still exploring sex and spirituality better than any of his peers. Cohen's masterful 1992 album The Future teemed with darkness but, again, cynical smiles and wonderful romanticism are there as well. Having released about a dozen, mostly acclaimed, studio records and a couple terrific live albums, Cohen called it quits -- to live as a monk. But, then, like in a bad movie twist, a former business manager stole his money, forcing Cohen back on the road. Sounds like a perfect situation for the angry artist to drag his ass through the motions just to bank some much needed retirement cash. Judging by the CD/DVD Live in London, though, culled from a show last year, Cohen's craggy croon sounds delightfully expressive, as does his illustrious band and sultry backup singers.

It has been said before but it's worth repeating, Cohen's loss has become the world's gain. In honor of popular music's supreme poet performing Saturday in Sunrise, here's a highly subjective list of his finest songs.

Leonard Cohen, Saturday, October 17. BankAtlantic Center, One Panther Pkwy, Sunrise. Show starts at 8 p.m., tickets cost $19.50 - $252.75 via Ticketmaster.com.

1. "Tower of Song"
As only Cohen can, he appraises his advancing age and, with utmost modesty, his place in the pantheon of great singer-songwriters. The opening lines are smile-inducing gems: "Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey / I ache in the places where I used to play." First appeared as the closer of I'm Your Man. This gorgeous performance -- audio only -- is from Live in London.



2. "Famous Blue Raincoat"
Cohen "reads" us a letter he has written to the man who had an affair with his woman "Jane." He addresses the man as "my killer, my brother."  It's a marvelously detailed account of a savage love triangle --and terribly depressing. But it's that beautiful despair that pulls you back again and again. Here's the original recording, found on Cohen 1971 album Songs of Love and Hate.



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