Hallelujah – The Leonard Cohen Song That Nearly Didn’t Happen

Canadian-born musician and poet Leonard Cohen passed away a few days ago at the age of 82.

The singer is best known for his heart-wrenching song, ‘Hallelujah’, which has been covered more than 200 times. Although this ballad has entered the pop-culture hall of fame, Cohen actually took five years to write it and the song was initially rejected by a record label in 1984. ‘Hallelujah’ only became popular a decade later thanks to Jeff Buckley’s reinterpretation. The song has since been covered by Justin Timberlake and Bob Dylan to name but a few.

To remember his genius and celebrate his immense contribution to music, we’ve collected some heartfelt tributes from musicians touched by his work.

Thank you Mr Cohen for everything.

Ben Vella of Vaults

“His lyrics are stunning, full of dark stories and imagery that undoubtedly influenced me as a songwriter… He’ll be dearly missed by anyone his music touched.”


“So long Leonard, thank you for your words, your songs, your life – a gentleman, a master, a hero. Thank you for looking so deeply, for sharing your time giving us your finely wrought diamonds, for lighting the dark corners where the soul lives, for translating the otherness we recognize but fail to express.”

Imelda May 

“A visionary, a genius dies. Life, lust, death, love, friendship, humour, heartbreak, doubt, body, soul, struggle, sorrow, joy, sex, desire, spirituality, high aspiration, deep darkest feelings represented in gloriously honest, carefully crafted words by one small man. A continuously evolving, growing, learning, inspiring creative master poet and lyricist of our time. Leonard Cohen, You’re My Man. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”


“The darkness just got so much darker. Such a beautiful man, such a beautiful soul.”

Tim Booth of James

“The genius that is Leonard Cohen has died. I saw him 3 times. First heard his music aged 8. Last time I saw Leonard I was a guest of the lovely Rebecca De Mornay, his fiancé in the 90’s. Heard songs inspired by her through her ears. One of the few poet singers. Thank you.”

Peter Gabriel

“His unique voice painted unforgettable pictures… there is a big hole where he stood.”

Andrew Eldritch of the Sisters of Mercy

“He was effortlessly brilliant. A king among men. The most remarkable thing about him was that he was open and engaging. He listened as much as he spoke. We learned from each other. As a fan of the musician and of the man, that was humbling and inspiring.”

Win Butler of Arcade Fire

“Seeing Leonard Cohen walking on St Laurent street when I was 21 was enough to make me feel like I had a home.”

Elton John

“Unique – a giant of a man and a brilliant songwriter. Irreplaceable. Loved him and his wonderful music.”

Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five

“Kids. Take a moment to listen to Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Going Home’ when you can. RIP L Cohen and thank you.”

Boy George

“We have lost a great artist, poet and poignant force of energy.”

Guy Gerber

“Leonard Cohen meant the world to me.”

Nick Cave 

“For many of us Leonard Cohen was the greatest songwriter of them all. Utterly unique and impossible to imitate no matter how hard we tried. He will be deeply missed by so many.”

Ian McCulloch of Echo and The Bunnymen

“I just want to say I think you’re the best.”