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2016 continues to be an awful year for musical deaths, and we've had four more in recent weeks. First, we lost Leon Russell, the famous session player and solo artist who recorded with a diverse roster of artists from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin. The pianist and singer-songwriter Mose Allison also died recently at 89. Allison blended country blues and bebop and influenced rock musicians from Randy Newman to Pete Townshend. Though less of a household name, archivist Billy Miller also made great contributions to rock music. As co-founder of Norton Records, he brought much needed attention to neglected artists like Hasil Adkins, Link Wray, and The Sonics.

Leonard Cohen But the most significant loss was Leonard Cohen. The Canadian singer-songwriter established himself on the New York scene with his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967. That record provided inspiration to filmmaker Robert Altman on his 1971 anti-western McCabe & Mrs. Miller, a collaboration that Greg feels is a key part of Cohen's career. Cohen's records, however, were often ill-served by overproduction, with his voice pushed to the rear. It took interpretations bu other artists to bring the songs to their full potential, most notably on the many covers of his most famous tune "Hallelujah," from John Cale to Jeff Buckley to Kate McKinnon on SNL. But remarkably, Cohen figured things out toward the end of his life. He played countless shows in the past decade and released some of the strongest albums of his career in his seventies and eighties. In fact, for the uninitiated listener, Jim and Greg recommend beginning with his 2009 Live in London album featuring his greatest songs in new, tighter arrangements.

Go to episode 573