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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

Come Healing

Updated: May 14, 2020

I grew up listening to Leonard Cohen, the gravelly voiced, Canadian poet, who became a singer-songwriter in the 1960s. Cohen’s first big hit Suzanne was his most covered song for years. The folk artist and legend Judy Collins said this of Cohen.

“When I first met him he said he couldn't sing or play the guitar, nor did he think Suzanne was even a song, and then he played me Suzanne and I said, Leonard, you must come with me to this big fundraiser I'm doing. Jimi Hendrix was also performing. He [Cohen] had never sung in front of a large audience before then. He got out on stage and started singing. Everybody was going crazy—they loved it, but he stopped about halfway through and walked off the stage. Everybody went nuts. They demanded that he come back. And I demanded; telling him that I’d go out with him. So, we went back out, and we sang it. And of course, that was the beginning.”

Collins would go on to cover a number of other Cohen songs during her career.

By far however, Cohen’s most recognized song is Hallelujah which was first released on his studio album Various Positions in 1984, and then performed live his European tour in 1985.

The song had limited initial success but found greater popularity through a 1991 cover by John Cale which was featured in the 2001 animated film, Shrek. On the soundtrack album of the film, the song was performed by Rufus Wainwright. Cale's version formed the basis for a later cover by Jeff Buckley. Since its initial release, Hallelujah has been performed by almost 200 artists in various languages.

While a long-time Leonard Cohen fan, I don’t recall ever hearing the song Come Healing until it played in the background on the final episode in series six of Amazon Prime’s current crime drama Bosch.

Of this anthem, Elliot R. Wolfson who holds the Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara said, “Come Healing is the most extraordinary of kabbalistic songs, a poem that is prayer in its purest distillation, a prayer clothed in quintessential nakedness, an anthem that celebrates and laments the wholehearted fragmentariness of the human condition and the brokenness of the promises one never dared to vow.”

If you can spare four minutes in your day, I encourage you to click on the link below to listen to a live performance of Come Healing performed by Cohen in Dublin, Ireland on October 14, 2014 and see if it refreshes you as it did me.

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