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Leonard Cohen

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Leonard Cohen In his excellent 1997 biography of the Canadian poet, novelist, and singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, Ira B. Nadel relates an anecdote that seems too perfectly symbolic to be true: A teenaged Cohen, after reading a book on hypnotism, successfully hypnotizes and undresses the family maid. This is the stuff of parable, presaging the hands-on mysticism, conflicted morality, and voracious lust that would come to define Cohen's art. The story also speaks to the peculiar effect of his music-- few singers leave us feeling so mesmerized and vulnerable. On paper, Cohen's music is astoundingly simple. Because he became well-known as a poet and novelist in his 20s, there's a popular misconception that he didn't begin to play music until he started releasing albums in his 30s. But he became infatuated with the guitar at an early age, played in a country band called the Buckskin Boys at McGill University, and accompanied his poetry readings with live jazz, inspired b