BOB DYLAN’S FAVOURITE LEONARD COHEN SONGS?

The personal and professional relationship between Bob Dylan and the late Leonard Cohen was always good: rather than being rivals, they appreciated and admired each other’s work. There were memorable moments like their encounter in a Paris café, when Cohen singled out for praise Dylan’s then new song from Infidels, ‘I and I’, and Dylan lauded Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, a song which he would later be the first artist to cover live. Now, the online magazine Far Out has published a fascinating (unsigned) article focusing on the relationship and intriguingly titled ‘Bob Dylan’s favourite Leonard Cohen songs’ (https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/bob-dylan-favourite-leonard-cohen-songs-and-his-greatest-genius/ – 19 March 2021).

The article cites a New York Times interview with David Remnick from 2016 in which Dylan, shortly before Cohen’s death, paid tribute to his fellow songwriter, praising not only his lyrics but also his melodies, and even affirming that ‘no-one comes closer to this in modern music’. Dylan declares that in Cohen’s lyrics, ‘there’s always a direct sentiment as if he’s holding a conversation and telling you something’.  

The Far Out piece concludes by listing the six Cohen songs named by Dylan himself in the NYT interview, and speculatively suggests that they may be his favourites. They are: ‘Sisters of Mercy’ from Songs of Leonard Cohen; ‘Hallelujah’ (inevitably) and ‘The Law’ from Various Positions; and ‘Going Home’, ‘Show Me the Place’ and ‘Darkness’, all from Old Ideas.

Both Dylan and Cohen fans, and the many who admire both, will find this article of interest. There is more on Dylan and Cohen in an earlier Far Out piece from July 2020, at : https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/bob-dylan-leonard-cohen-hallelujah-cover-bootleg-1988/

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