Leonard Cohen fans share their personal stories

On the first anniversary of Leonard Cohen's death, CBC Montreal's Daybreak asked listeners to send in their stories of what the poet and singer/songwriter meant to them. The response was overwhelming.

Fans say he made them proud of being Montrealers, inspired them

Montrealers sent CBC their stories and memories of Leonard Cohen on the first anniversary of his death. (Eloy Alonso/Reuters)

On the first anniversary of Leonard Cohen's death, CBC Montreal's Daybreak asked listeners to send in their stories of what he meant to them. The response was overwhelming.

Here are just a few excerpts from the touching personal essays which were sent in. 

Holding court at McGill

Some listeners wrote in about how Cohen inspired them creatively. 

A photo taken for Erica Pomerance's 1968 album, You Used to Think, which includes a song dedicated to Cohen. (submitted by Erica Pomerance)
"Leonard Cohen was a mentor to me when I was young. I met him at a folk club, and we developed a friendship. He used to visit McGill and hold court on the lawn.

He let me into his world. We sang songs, played guitar. He was still a local poet and novelist on the verge of his first recording.

When I was lost and looking for direction he came to my rescue."

– Erica Pomerance

​Fantasies of being whisked away

Some developed a personal connection to him through his works.

"I read his books and poetry, fantasizing that one day we would meet at a café on St-Laurent Boulevard.

We would sip espressos and smoke Gitane cigarettes, discussing our writing. He would whisk me away to Greece and write beautiful songs about me. It didn't matter that I was 19 and he was 52, we were in love.

Well, I'm 50 now and my life has become a lot darker than it once was.… The one constant comfort that I haven't lost is music. Leonard's deep and melancholic voice always reminds me that I am not alone in my pain."

– Annette Aghazarian​
As a young woman, Annette Aghazarian thought of Leonard Cohen as a kindred spirit. (submitted by Annette Aghazarian)

​Couldn't believe how 'Leonard Cohen' he was

"I met Leonard Cohen in Parc du Portugal. I spotted him sketching a gorgeous blond woman who looked to be on her cigarette break. 

I couldn't believe just how 'Leonard Cohen' Leonard Cohen was behaving.

When the woman walked away, I approached him and introduced myself. We spoke for 20 minutes.

I imagine that most people are disappointed when they meet their heroes. Leonard could not have been more generous. He considered my words with an intensity I have never experienced before or since."

– CBC writer-in-residence Joshua Levy

Joshua Levy, right, lights candles on Cohen's doorstep the night it was announced that the poet and singer/songwriter had died. (CBC)

Overcoming shyness

Some wrote in about their direct connection to Cohen.

"When I was a little girl of about eight or 10 years old, my dad had a restaurant on the Main that our dear Leonard would frequent quite often.

On a particular Saturday after my baking lessons with chef Giovanni, Leonard was in the restaurant and my father made me serve my delicious baked goods. 

Needless to say, I was so young and Leonard being so gorgeous I was very shy and embarrassed but my father encouraged me to go up to him. 

I saw him many times after that and he always remembered what I baked for him."

– Myra Lighter

Proud to be Montrealer​ 
Montrealer Nick Warren is now a librarian. (submitted by Nick Warren.)

"Cohen made me proud to be Canadian, proud to live in Quebec and proud to understand and love much of his music and poetry.

He was a wonderful artist who also associated with some wonderful people.

His music spoke to, and speaks to me and many others, and his words ring on, forever more, until the end of love."

– Nick Warren

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak