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Opinion | Parents Aren’t the Only Ones With Rights

Almost from the moment I announced this feature, the newsletter’s inbox has been a merrily teeming arena of competing voices, rival passions, the Bruce Springsteen fans in one section, the Kris Kristofferson mavens in another. When will you get to Paul Simon? Don’t overlook Mary Chapin Carpenter! Elvis Costello deserves his day!

He’ll get it, in time. So will many of the others you’ve nominated. But today goes to the songwriter who has arguably been the focus of the most ardent appeals in my inbox — and has perhaps prompted more of them than any other. (I haven’t done a definitive count.)

I give you Leonard Cohen.

Or, rather, you gave him to me, citing, for example, these famously elegant lines from his song “Anthem”:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Kathryn Lodato of Monterey, Calif., and Patrick McCloskey of Canmore, Alberta, drew special attention to that song. David Dorinson of North Fork, Calif., and Chris Crosman of Thomaston, Maine, trained a spotlight on “Bird on a Wire,” with its gutting confessions, including the line “I have torn everyone who reached out to me.”

Kathleen Glaus of Oberlin, Ohio, and Noreen Herzfeld of Collegeville, Minn., praised “You Want It Darker,” with its haunting mention of “a million candles burning/For the help that never came.”

In the November 2016 obituary in The Times, Larry Rohter noted that Cohen, who died that year at 82, was a “poet and novelist who abandoned a promising literary career to become one of the foremost songwriters of the contemporary era.” An article in The Times two months earlier by Nick Murray pondered the particular ubiquity of Cohen’s song “Hallelujah,” covered by so many other singers and tightly embraced by contestants on television vocal competitions like “The Voice.”

“The poet of brokenness” is what Mikal Gilmore called Cohen in an appreciation in Rolling Stone just after Cohen’s death. It’s one of many paeans to his lyrical gifts, the magnitude of which means that I could quote many more songs and hundreds of lines. The sky is the limit.

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