Exhibit explores how Leonard Cohen embraced Buddhism, Judaism and wit. Through Sept. 8 at the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., at 92nd Street
An interviewer once asked Leonard Cohen if he ever thought about changing his name. It was 1966, when ethnic wasn’t exactly in.Excerpt from New York Post
The singer/songwriter told her he liked the sound of September.
“Leonard September?” the prim blonde guessed.
No, he replied: “September Cohen.”
For a man who spent half a decade as a Buddhist monk, Cohen never forgot his roots. Nor, apparently, has the Jewish Museum. It’s filled three floors with “Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything,” featuring works inspired by his songs, poems and philosophy, as interpreted by artists from Hong Kong to Haifa, Paris to Berlin.
The show is a sprawling one — literally. Beanbag chairs lie here and there for you to flop into, most of them on the third floor, where you’ll hear Moby, Jarvis Cocker, Sufjan Stevens and others put their singular spin on “Suzanne,” “Take This Waltz” and more.
Although he embraced Zen — something he considered a discipline, rather than a religion — many of Cohen’s songs have Old Testament themes and the occasional Hebrew word or phrase. On “You Want it Darker,” the last album he recorded before his death in 2016, at 82, Cohen asked the cantor from his childhood synagogue to sing backup vocals.
“Bob Dylan at one point [said]Cohen’s songs were like prayers,” senior museum curator Ruth Beesch tells The Post. “Being Jewish was hard-baked into his DNA.”
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything is the first exhibition entirely devoted to the imagination and legacy of the influential singer/songwriter, man of letters, and global icon from Montréal, Canada. The exhibition includes commissioned works by a range of international artists who have been inspired by Cohen’s style and recurring themes in his work, a video projection showcasing Cohen’s own drawings, and an innovative multimedia gallery where visitors can hear covers of Cohen’s songs by musicians such as Lou Doillon; Feist; Moby; and The National with Sufjan Stevens, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Richard Reed Parry, among others.