3 Songs by Leonard Cohen that Will Make Anyone Tear Up

Is Leonard Cohen the greatest songwriter who ever lived? Maybe. But either way, he may have written the greatest song of all time—the song covered by so many but never duplicated, “Hallelujah.” With that one tune, which took Cohen years to perfect, he cemented his status as an all-time lyricist and composer.

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Of course, “Hallelujah” is a song that also can make a person well up when they least expect it. Whether sung by Cohen or others like Rufus Wainwright, it’s emotive and deep. But what other songs did Cohen write and perform that are just as effective? Let’s dive in here below.

[RELATED: One Song, Three Ways: “Hallelujah”]


Originally released on Cohen’s 1984 album Various Positions, this song underwent many drafts before it saw the light of day in public and even then, it went through more revisions. For those who want to know the full story, check out the documentary about the song, but suffice to say the tune has gone on to affect countless lives and turned souls upside down in the process. All of that can bring a tear to your eye—indeed, even the song’s origin story might make you emotional. On the song, Cohen sings,

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you dont really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor falls, the major lifts
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

“Famous Blue Raincoat”

Released on Cohen’s 1971 album Songs of Love and Hate, this song is like walking into a cavern. Coehn is known for his deep, rumbling, raw voice, and this is especially evident on this tune. But even in the cave you walk into, there is light coming through cracks. Where the light comes from is anyone’s guess, but there you are, staring up at it, and it brings the feeling from your corporeal form. Then comes the tear, manifested and falling down your cheek. On the song of forgiveness, Cohen sings,

It’s four in the morning, the end of December
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening

I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record

Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

“I’m Your Man”

Darkness meets hope in this song about love from the poet on the mountain. Cohen, who lived in holy homes and was famous for meditating for hours on end, has searched his soul for the songs he gives out free to listeners. He’s also a hopeless romantic. And this song is the evidence. But what comes with love is always loss, distance. And that’s the thesis of this tune, from the 1988 album of the same name, on which he sings,

If you want a lover
I’ll do anything you ask me to
And if you want another kind of love
I’ll wear a mask for you
If you want a partner, take my hand, or
If you want to strike me down in anger
Here I stand
I’m your man

If you want a boxer
I will step into the ring for you
And if you want a doctor
I’ll examine every inch of you
If you want a driver, climb inside
Or if you want to take me for a ride
You know you can
I’m your man

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