Leonard Cohen – The Prince of “Dark.”

2016 has been a bad year for the loss of music icons, Bowie, Prince, Glen Frey and now Leonard Cohen, the legendary Canadian singer, songwriter and poet who has died aged 82. Cohen was called the “godfather of gloom,” although he was a man of wit and charm, an accomplished author and poet and whose music career spanned five decades, with hits including Suzanne, Bird on the Wire, I’m Your Man and of course Hallelujah, a song covered by no less than 500 other artists.

By now you are probably wondering why an investment related commentary is talking about pop music? The reason, dear reader, is that popular music has everything to do with market analysis.

It was the equally legendary Robert Prechter, founder of Elliott Wave international and the Institute of Socionomics, whose writings first alerted me to “bull market” and “bear market” heroes, due to their attuned antennae to society’s positive or negative mood, including musicians. At its simplest, Prechter recognised that when the collective social mood was rising, as identified by a rising stock-market, upbeat feel-good music was in demand, and movies come to that, and vice-versa during bear markets.

Think early 1960s, as the Dow was approaching the 1000 market top, it was the Beatles and the Beach Boys vying for the top slots with “love, love, love” and “fun, fun fun,” with Cliff (pass me the sick-bag) Richard’s “We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday” playing to packed-out movie theatres. Fast forward to the late 60s/early 70s, as the secular bear market set in, the Beatles were knocked off their perch by the Rolling Stones with more anger and frustration, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” whist Cliff was elbowed out by the likes of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” or Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” which has a habit of being re-made to coincide with major bear markets. You hopefully get the jist?

So with this in mind I thought it would be interesting to observe Leonard’s career path to see just why he was such a popular artist. As his career spanned 50-years, the history of the Dow has been split into two periods, the first covering the early 1960s until late 1999, which included the secular bear market of 1966 through 1982, and the 1994-2000 stellar bull phase.

The blue vertical lines denote his major albums, starting with his first in 1967,”Songs of Leonard Cohen,” travelling through the 1969 “Songs from a Room,” which included the iconic “Bird on the Wire” track and onto classics such as “Songs of Love and Hate” and “Death of a Ladies man” during the 1970s, a period of negative social mood eminently suited to Cohen’s dark lyrics.

Perhaps his most upbeat song, “Hallelujah” was released in 1984, as the bull market was getting into full swing, followed by his most popular album, “I’m Your Man” released in 1988, the aftermath of the 1987 crash, with a follow-up, “The Future,” full of dark lyrics, which appeared in 1992, during the recession that followed the market crash.

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He disappeared from the scene from 1992 until 2001, a period of increasingly positive collective social mood, identified by a very strong Dow, after which Leonard returned in 2001, midway through the 2000/02 bear market, with the release of a major hit, “Ten New Songs.” A second chart of the Dow, post 2000 to date highlight this and a successful string of tours between 2008-2010, post financial crisis, which led to three albums in the final four years of his life

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The final thicker blue line marks Leonard Cohen’s final work, “You Want it Darker,” released just three weeks ago and hot on the heals of a letter that he wrote to Marianne Ihlen, his lover whom he met in Greece in the 1960s, of “So Long Marianne” fame, after learning that she was terminally ill and close to death.

Within the letter he wrote,” Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon……. Goodbye old friend, see you down the road.” Very poignant and very Bowie-eske

In conclusion, here was an artist with impeccable timing as to when he released his style of music over a long period of time. Furthermore, as set out with other Socionomic observations over the recent months, Leonard’s latest “darker than dark” may just be forecasting a particularly deep bear phase ahead. Time will tell.

 
So long Leonard and thank you for your lyrics, sound and guidance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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