I am pleased to announce that the walkway from Marc Chagall Avenue, which heads directly to the City Hall and Library facility, will be named Leonard Cohen Lane in memory of the legendary Montreal writer, poet, composer and singer who passed away in November 2016 at the age of 82.
While Leonard Cohen never lived in Côte Saint-Luc, he was indeed a Quebec icon we all revered. Indeed his presence was always felt at our very own CSL Public Library through CDs, videos and books.
When we formally inaugurate Leonard Cohen Lane later this year, I will work with Library Director Janine West, Councillor David Tordjman, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and City Manager Tanya Abramovitch on an event which will celebrate this great man’s life and all of the joy he brought to us.
This land was unofficially referred to as Marc Chagall Park. We had considered calling it Library Lane, but a few people, including community activist Tamar Hertz, suggested that we honour the memory of Leonard Cohen There are a number of people I know in Montreal who were personal friends with him. I am sure they will be thrilled to attend any event we organize.
Cohen (no relation to me by the way) was born in Montreal on Sept. 21, 1934, to a middle-class family. His father, who ran a well-known clothing store, died when he was nine. He pursued undergraduate studies at McGill University and became president of the debating union. He flirted with a legal career and attended McGill law school for a year after completing his bachelor's degree. He also went to Columbia University for a year. But literature had a stronger call than litigation.
"Let Us Compare Mythologies," his first book of poetry, was published in 1956 when he was an undergrad. The "Flowers For Hitler" poetry collection and the novels "The Favourite Game" and "Beautiful Losers" followed in the 1960s. He etablished himself as a poet and novelist of renown by the age of 32, Cohen decided that songwriting might pay better.
A big break came in 1966 when Judy Collins recorded his standard "Suzanne," and he came out with his first album "Songs of Leonard Cohen" the same year. That was followed up with "Songs from a Room" in 1969, which included the popular "Bird on the Wire." He had a fairly steady output although his popularity dipped in the 1970s as disco, not doom, was deemed to be the treat for consumers' ears. But Cohen began a comeback in 1984 with "Various Positions," which included "Hallelujah."
Ironically, "Hallelujah," was on the only Cohen album ever rejected by his record company and was little noticed when it did come out on an independent label. But it has become modern standard after hundreds of cover versions, high-profile performances and use in TV and movie soundtracks.
It is played at weddings, funerals - including the 2011 state ceremony for then NDP leader Jack Layton - school concerts and religious services. It was repeatedly played on VH1 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and at a telethon for relief efforts after the Haitian earthquake in 2010.