Leonard Cohen, who died this week, was one of America’s greatest songwriters -- Bob Dylan told Cohen he considered him his nearest rival -- and is a figure of almost cult-like devotion to generations of fans. He began as a poet in the vein of Allen Ginsberg or Frank O’Hara before releasing his first album in 1967. Suffering from terrible anxiety, not much calmed by alcohol and drugs, he only seemed to conquer his fear of performing on stage after decades of Zen practice. David Remnick sat down with Cohen in the summer at his home in Los Angeles to discuss his career, his spiritual influences, his triumphant final tours, and preparing for his end. “I’m ready to die,” Cohen told him, already suffering from a number of health problems. “I like to tie up the strings. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order is, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities and the benefits of it are incalculable."