Canada Post today unveiled three stamps honouring Leonard Cohen, whose songs over a five-decade career distilled the desire and pain of romantic love and explored the darkness and light of the human experience.
The stamps were unveiled in the city of his birth, as Cohen’s record label, Sony Music, announced the release of new music from Cohen and a forthcoming album release titled Thanks for the Dance.
The stamps are available today, September 21, on what would have been Cohen’s 85th birthday. The images on the stamps and the Official First Day Covers highlight three periods of this accomplished Canadian’s music career:
- his impressive debut in the 1960s, including two songs that became enduring favourites, “Suzanne” and “So Long, Marianne”;
- the resurgence of his popularity in the 1980s and the early 1990s, with his unforgettable and oft-covered “Hallelujah“ (1984);
- and his performances on an 18-month world tour he undertook in his seventies, followed by a final burst of creative genius. A month after the October 2016 release of his critically acclaimed album You Want It Darker, Cohen died at 82. He was posthumously awarded the JUNO Award for Artist of the Year in 2017, as well as Album of the Year; the title track of You Want It Darker won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance.
Born on September 21, 1934, in Montréal, Cohen took an unlikely path into pop music. In the mid-1960s, the income from writing four books of poetry and two novels left him struggling “to pay my grocery bill,” he once recalled. After returning to Canada from the Greek island where he’d lived for years, the self-taught guitarist discovered the folk music movement sweeping North America. He tried his hand at writing songs. He played some privately for singer Judy Collins, who loved them. A folk and pop star, she sang two of them on her next album, becoming one of the hundreds of artists who would record Cohen’s songs during his life. He released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, in 1967.
After several albums, Cohen’s place in the pantheon of the world’s great songwriters was secure, and he was inducted into several music halls of fame. He earned a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
A warm, spiritual and intellectual man, Cohen also had a self-deprecating sense of humour. When he died, countless singers, musicians and others publicly mourned his passing, expressing their respect for his work and their deep affection for him. Leading papers around the world published obituaries, reflecting his global stature.
“Leonard was always deeply appreciative of his Canadian heritage, and would have been moved by this honour from Canada Post,” says Robert Kory, Cohen’s manager, estate trustee and friend.
“Canada Post is proud to pay tribute to this memorably gifted man whose words and music have touched Canadians and people around the world,” says Jessica McDonald, Chair of the Board of Directors, Canada Post.
The stamps were unveiled in the Glass Court at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, overlooking the Leonard Cohen mural that rises 21 storeys above Crescent Street.
The Permanent domestic-rate stamps, designed by Paprika of Montréal, with photographs by Jack Robinson, Claude Gassian and Platon, and printed by Lowe Martin, are available in a book of nine, with three of each design. Other collectibles, including a four-pack of Official First Day Covers, a collectible pane and a folded uncut press sheet packaged in a simulated album cover and liner, are available at selected post offices or at www.canadapost.ca/shop.