It's a way to say goodbye.
The family of Leonard Cohen has announced plans for a major concert to celebrate the life and work of the late balladeer. Tower of Song: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, to be held on Nov. 6 at Montreal's Bell Centre, will feature such artists as Elvis Costello, Feist, Sting, k.d. lang, Lana Del Rey, members of the Lumineers, Philip Glass, Damien Rice and Montreal musician Patrick Watson.
Mr. Cohen, best known for his 1984 song Hallelujah, died Nov. 7, 2016, in Los Angeles, at the age of 82. According to his son, the singer-songwriter Adam Cohen, the iconic poet, musician and fedora enthusiast left a list of instructions before he passed. His father requested that he be buried in an unadorned pine box next to his parents in a Montreal cemetery, that a small memorial for close friends and family be held in Los Angeles and that any public event in Canada be held in Montreal, the city where he was born.
"He would probably be searching for excuses on how to not attend the concert if he were around," Adam Cohen told The Globe and Mail. "I think he's found the best excuse yet."
Tickets for Tower of Song go on sale Sept. 23. The show (which benefits the Canada Council for the Arts, the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec and the Montreal Arts Council) will commence a week of Cohen celebrations in Montreal, according to concert organizers. As previously announced, the exhibit Leonard Cohen: Une Brèche en Toute Chose / A Crack in Everything will open on Nov. 9 at Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal.
The Montreal concert will not be the first event held in Mr. Cohen's honour. In January, a concert hosted at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg featured performances from Richard Thompson, Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, Josh Ritter, Amy Helm, Lenny Kaye and others. A recording of that show, Sincerely, L. Cohen: A Live Celebration of Leonard Cohen, will be released Sept. 21.
At the 2017 Juno Awards this spring in Ottawa, the singer-songwriter Leslie Feist offered a moving tribute to Mr. Cohen with a poignant cover of one of his classics, Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye.
"He was always very generous when he heard someone covering his material, and knowing his work existed in culture was something that satisfied him," his son said. "He was enormously flattered and always had compliments to dispense to people who recorded his songs."
Notable recordings of Cohen compositions include Roberta Flack's haunting 1969 version of Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye, k.d. lang's soaring 2004 rendition of Hallelujah and Jeff Buckley's delicate cover of that anthem a decade earlier. In 1987, the American singer Jennifer Warnes released Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen.
In charge of the Montreal event is the American record and concert producer Hal Willner, who organized a 2005 tribute show to Mr. Cohen at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
That concert is documented in Lian Lunson's film Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man. The coming Montreal concert, which will feature music, spoken-word performances and previously unseen videos of Mr. Cohen, will be filmed by the American director Jack Bender. There are currently no plans for a live broadcast.
Mr. Cohen won two Juno trophies this year for You Want it Darker, his 14th and final studio LP, released weeks before his death. The album, which focuses on mortality and spirituality, is one of 10 short-listed recordings in the running for this year's Polaris Music Prize, to be awarded this evening at a Toronto gala.
It was not possible to hold the Montreal tribute concert on the exact one-year anniversary of the troubadour's death. On Nov. 7, the Montreal Canadiens play host to the Las Vegas Golden Knights at Bell Centre.
"I'm not going to be a stickler for the day," said Adam Cohen, who produced his father's final album and who will perform at the event. "It being on the eve of the anniversary of his passing is perfectly befitting. Just like the excitement of Christmas, the concert happens on the day before."