Ten must-hear Leonard Cohen covers by Toronto musicians
When Leonard Cohen died last night, the world lost one of its greatest songwriters. Proof of his genius lies not only in his songs, but in other musicians’ admiration for them. Canadian artists have never been shy about expressing how Cohen inspired them, so we’ve collected 10 tributes by some of Toronto’s top songwriters.
Sisters of Mercy
Leonard Cohen made St. Catharines–bred troubadour Ron Sexsmith realize what kind of songwriter he wanted to be: conversational yet poetic. Here, he plays a minimalist rendition of “Sisters of Mercy,” just one of the many Cohen tunes he knows.
Sarah Polley’s devastating 2011 drama, Take This Waltz, called for an equally devastating soundtrack. Enter this Cohen cover by Feist, who’s played Leonard’s tunes with Wilco as well.
Wainwright’s crooning big-band cover is thrilling, almost as much so as his story about Cohen cooking soba noodles in his underwear.
So Long, Marianne
In recent years, Cohen’s birthday has become an unofficial Canadian holiday—an occasion for well wishes and covers. Here, superfan Basia Bulat sends him a sweet rendition of “So Long, Marianne.”
Sisters of Mercy
This track, Ryder’s favourite Cohen song, also appeared on her 2006 album of Canadian covers, If Your Memory Serves You Well.
This Toronto folk trio is known for their graceful harmonies, and they don’t disappoint on this rendition of Cohen’s most iconic song (keep listening for the high-soaring final chorus).
Choir! Choir! Choir!
Toronto’s coolest choir is best known for “Hallelujah,” their viral Luminato performance with Rufus Wainwright, but this sombre take on “Suzanne” is also well worth a listen.
Rufus isn’t the only Wainwright who adores Cohen.
Show Me the Place
The jazz virtuoso multi-tasks her way through one of Cohen’s more recent masterpieces, singing while playing piano with one hand and xylophone with the other.
Father John Misty
I’m Your Man
Joshua Tillman may not be a local, but we had to include his cover of “I’m Your Man” at the Danforth Music Hall, where he nailed Cohen’s sexy, easy saunter.