“You want to know some secrets about Leonard Cohen?”: the time that Adam Cohen wrote about his relationship with his famous dad

Leonard Cohen in 1980
(Image credit: Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images))

If there was anyone who could’ve shed some light on charming mystery man Leonard Cohen, it was his son Adam. Adam enjoyed a close relationship with his dad up until the iconic singer-songwriter’s death in 2016 and earlier that year, he wrote about their relationship in writer and editor Ted Kessler’s wonderful book My Old Man, where a selection of musicians, artists, writers and broadcasters contributed chapters about their dads.

In his entry, Adam said that despite his father being described as “the prince of darkness”, in reality he was the opposite. “There was always laughter,” he wrote of the Hallelujah star. “He is one of the most quick-witted of men, and he’s generous with his humour. The guy is hilarious.”

Towards the end of the essay, Adam gets into the good stuff. “You want to know some secrets about Leonard Cohen?” he writes. “Here’s the dirt. He loves George Jones and Hank Williams. He travels with one small suitcase. Many of his impeccable suits are actually threadbare. He’s only about five food eight despite that giant baritone. He awakens at four in the morning and blackens pages every single day of his life. He cuts his own hair. He will find a patch of sun anywhere and sit in it, like a big cat.”

Adam also reveals that his father made the best tuna salad he’d ever had and loved making food for people. “He spends a lot of time in the kitchen,” he wrote. “Leonard Cohen’s probably the best-known short-order chef in the world.”

Before Leonard Cohen died, the two worked together on music – Adam produced his father’s final album You Want It Darker, which was released in 2016. Watch the video to the title track below.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.