Songs from a Room, Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen is an artist I come back to every so often, usually in moments of melancholy, reflection, nostalgia, or simple introspection. I find it comforting, and every time I listen, I pick up a new nuance of the perfect use of his words. I've developed a relationship with Leonard over the years. Listening to his music makes me feel like he speaks directly to me. That is what great artists do.
Leonard Cohen might be someone you've never heard of. He didn't live a life of fanfare or was in the public eye as much, although the last tour before he died was one of the most famous concert tours of the era. He is one of the top singer-songwriters in history, and even though many people don't know it, he wrote one of the best songs ever written: Halleluiah, which has been covered by countless artists, a song that he took more than 7 years to write.
I can't remember how I was introduced to Leonard Cohen's music, but it has always been there. Most of his repertoire is outstanding, although there are a couple of albums in which the producers pushed him out if his style and messed things up. One of them was Phil Spector, the creator of "the wall of sound."
I chose "Songs from a Room" because it is the first album I heard from him, and what hooked me to his music. Songs like "Bird on a Wire" and "The Partisan" made it to a Greatest Hits album I listened to a lot, and they are the ones I am most familiar with, but the whole album has the same level of intensity, insight, and perfection as everything he did.
Leonard used to stay at the legendary Chelsea Hotel when visiting NY. His famous song "Chelsea Hotel #2" was dedicated to when he met Janis Joplin there, as he confessed in his late life. If you are ever in the Big Apple, having dinner at the Spanish restaurant at the Chelsea would make you feel closer to the artists that spent time there: Patti Smith, Leonard, Janis, and even the likes of Dali and Andy Warhol.