My god! This is astonishing! There are very few artists who can actually put my emotions into words the way Cohen can, few artists who write such personal songs that can actually be a comfort to me and make me feel better about life. "And just when I was sure his spirit was pure he drowned himself in the pool./His body is gone but back here on the lawn his spirit continues to drool." The way Cohen tells stories through songs is of course magnificent, and again rivaled by very, very few, the way he can recount something that's happened to him and put his own spin on it ("Suzanne", "So Long, Marianne") is something many other songwriters should attempt instead of singing about the same old cliched "I love you" crap.
It's not just the innotiveness of his lyrics though, the music itself is astonishing! The warm, wispy folk music of "Suzanne" is balanced perfectly by Cohen's solemn vocals, which seem to send you into a false sense of security early on. As the album goes on Cohen seems to be going deeper and deeper into a state of insanity. This peaks with the unnerving "Teachers" a song which conjures images of a poor, hopeless soul who's being laughed at by life and fate "Oh teachers are my lessons done?/I cannot do another one/They laughed and laughed and said: "well child, are your lessons done?" By the end of the album's closer "One of Us Cannot Be Wrong" Cohen's frenzied laughter signify his descent into insanity is complete, while the undistributed whistling over the top of the shrieking laughter give the deeper sense of turning into something more sinister. It's such a fantastic way to round off the album.
Songs of Leonard Cohen was an absolute revelation to me from pretty much the first listen and years on still hasn't lost its appeal. Without question one of the best albums I've ever heard.