Leonard Cohen was a genius. There, I’ve said it. You might not agree but musicians all over the world have been influenced to a greater or lesser extent by this poet, novelist, singer and ex-monk from Canada.
Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye is just under 3 minutes of pure gold. Three verses, well, two if you acknowledge that verses one and three are essentially the same, three choruses and we’re left with a mixture of sadness, regret, joy and fulfillment on an epic scale.
Originally released in 1967 Cohen wrote the song in 1966 in a hotel in New York and said of it’s origins:
“The room is too hot. I can’t open the windows. I am in the midst of a bitter quarrel with a blonde woman. The song is half-written in pencil but it protects us as we manoeuvre, each of us, for unconditional victory. I am in the wrong room. I am with the wrong woman.”
If Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye was the only song Leonard Cohen had written that would be enough but he wrote a huge number of other equally good songs. If you haven’t spent time listening to Leonard Cohen I urge you to do so and it your image of him is that he is melancholy or even miserable then listen closely because his words will lift you.
Cohen essentially puts poetry to music and he does it in a way that no other songwriter has done before or since. The world was greater for him being here and poorer for his death. In between he left us with a body of work that will inspire those of us who write songs. He left all of us with a body of work that few, if any, can match.