Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Leonard Cohen wins Juno Artist of the Year

image source: NME

Just this morning the NME reported that Leonard Cohen, aged 78, has been awarded the Canadian music industry's "Artist of the Year" award, beating out, among others, Justin Beiber.


The NME then cited the reactions from Beiber's fans who have no idea who Cohen is and they are pissed off that he beat their beloved Justin for the award. That should come as no surprise to anybody.

Sure, I could crap on about how the fans are naive and are too young to know better, or about how I think Cohen is a far more important performer and artist that Beiber will ever be. But let's face it: even the oldest amongst us were young once, and as such we've all been guilty of having a narrow frame of reference or narrow viewpoint on many issues, including music; by virtue of the fact that we haven't lived or experienced much of the world at that time.

It appears to me that many people just don't have time for what I consider to be "heritage" acts. People just don't seem to want to find the time and effort to expand their horizons. Sure, Leonard Cohen has been around since before Woodstock, but even so, the vitality of his work makes even a cursory analysis a worthwhile pursuit. His songs are profound and have great depth to them. Even if the delivery can be off-putting (his deadpan, monotone singing voice often unsettles and repels new listeners), his work in the hands of other interpreters can be amazing. In the hands of Jennifer Warne (on the "Famous Blue Raincoat" LP) and Joe Cocker, the songs are bursting with detail and with vitality.

Casting an eye over a wider range of music won't hurt anybody, and if nothing else it is a great cure for ignorance. I don't begrudge Beiber fans for not knowing who Leonard Cohen is, but their inability to accept that there other musicians in the world besides Beiber who are worthy of awards. Narrow-mindedness and shallowness are the real issues here, and I wish they could be destroyed.

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