There are few musicians with notoriety and prestige as Leonard Cohen. His lyricism is acclaimed and equal to literary authors. So when I received the news about The New Yorker premiering his new song, “Going Home” and publishing his lyrics in its January 23rd issue, it made perfect sense.
New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon, who has been listening to Cohen since 1967, said that he is “thrilled” this will be happening in the magazine, which has recently been acknowledging the great power and achievement of singer-songwriters. Muldoon said, “The New Yorker has been publishing lyrics over the past years by Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon…Cohen is in some elite company, including his own!” Cohen’s rich, complex lyrics have intoxicated listeners for more than a generation; his work bridges the world of lyric poetry and song. A selection of Cohen’s poems and songs has recently been published by the prestigious Random House “Everyman” series, which includes in its pantheon Rumi, Keats, Byron, Pushkin, Dickinson, Frost, and, now, Cohen. Already, through a second printing, a new edition will be released later this winter.
Recently, Cohen’s work has been receiving literary recognition throughout the world. In late October, Cohen received the Príncipe de Asturias, the highest literary award granted by Spain. PEN New England has also awarded Cohen and Chuck Berry its first “Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence.” Judges included Bono, Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Paul Muldoon, Smokey Robinson, Salman Rushdie, and Paul Simon.
His native Canada, which has honored Cohen before, will bestow the Ninth Glenn Gould Prize upon Cohen for his great artistic achievement in bringing literary richness to popular music and for touching “audiences far outside his main genre.”