“Nothing in this human realm is meant to work. So once you can deeply appreciate that…the mind of compassion grows if you understand that everybody’s up against it.” Leonard Cohen


The greatest help you can get from anything is to find out it doesn’t workquotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Update: The “French woman” to whom Leonard alludes in the final sentence is Simone Weil (thanks Thelma Blitz for this correction); the full quote is ““The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, “What are you going through?”

From Leonard Cohen interview With Stina Dabrowski (Mount Baldy Zen Center: 1997. Originally posted Dec 16, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Stranger Song, Indeed – Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, & The Man On An Acid Trip



Judy Collins Helps Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, And The Man Coming Down From An Acid Trip

While “the man coming down from an acid trip” plays a role in a strange story in Judy Collins’ newly published book, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes – My Life In Music,1 he is at most the fourth strangest element in the single paragraph that deals with him, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Judy Collins herself.

In a few pages of  Sweet Judy Blue Eyes, Judy Collins has written accounts of her connections with Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. Most of the information has been previously published in books about or interviews with Collins, Cohen, and Mitchell.  Nonetheless, the unique perspective has led me to excerpt the book’s sections dealing with Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, including explanations of the role Judy Collins played in promoting the careers of Cohen and Mitchell. (Also see Judy Collins Describes Leonard Cohen’s 1st Concert Appearance 1967)

We begin with an anecdote that offers some new (at least to me) and odd (again, at least to me) content and is set forth in an even odder, downright eccentric construction:

Joni and Leonard met for the first time at that concert [the Newport afternoon concert] and began a love affair. Still, everyone was a little off-center. I remember being in bed with a man I did not know who was coming down from an acid  trip and wanted me to “comfort him,” no sex involved. Leonard sat in the room with us, singing “The Stranger Song” softly  to himself, not paying any attention at all to what was happening on the bed. The Chelsea Hotel indeed! I trusted Leonard completely in very intimate situations and although we never had an intimate exchange of that kind ourselves, he was a constant ally I could take into battle with no fear of betrayal. Joni wrote “That Song About The Midway” about Leonard, or so she says. Sounds right: the festival, the guy, the jewel in the ear.

If I were still grading Freshman Composition papers (my work/study job in college), this paragraph would be covered in red ink, my scrawls asking, first of all, why a sentence about Joni and Leonard meeting and beginning a love affair is followed immediately in the same paragraph with the non sequitur, “Still, everyone was a little off-center,” and then by a scene portraying the narrator in bed with and (asexually) comforting  a man coming down from an acid trip while Leonard sings a song while “[without] paying any attention at all to what was happening on the bed.” There is more, but let’s not linger over violated principles of narrative exposition.

It doesn’t require the services of a hot-shot shrink (my job after coming to my senses and opting for medical school rather than a post-graduate English Lit program) to detect signs that Judy Collins may have some unresolved anger directed toward Joni Mitchell and that Leonard Cohen is somehow involved.

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  1. Judy Collins. Crown Archetype, October 18, 2011 []

The Economist Names Leonard Cohen “A Man For Our Times” – Feb 25, 2012



It’s All About The Leonards

You gotta love it. In 2004, Leonard Cohen appeared to have capped a career of – well, let’s go with “suboptimal money management” – with a fiscal catastrophe: the misappropriation of his $5 million retirement fund by his longtime manager, leaving Cohen with only $150,000.1 This earned him much attention from the press, generating stories characterized by the cover of the August 22, 2005 Maclean’s, which paired his photo with the single-word title, “Devastated.”

macl-cover1tCut to today [date of original posting: Feb 24, 2012]. Last month, Leonard Cohen was nominated by the soberly astute Financial Times for “the job of post-financial crisis elderly sage,”2 going on to observe

As taken aback by his success as the rest of us, Cohen wasn’t trying to be the top dog. Mid-life-crisis proof, he wasn’t even trying to be cool. He was just trying to act his age.3

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  1. Wikipedia []
  2. See heading, “Leonard Cohen In The Financial Times” at Must-Read Leonard Cohen Posts And Resources []
  3. Bow Down Before The Sage From Mt Baldy by Gautam Malkani. The Financial Times, January 27, 2012 [free registration required at the site] []

Best Videos Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour: Anthem – Dublin


anthemmmRing the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen – Anthem
Dublin: Sept 12, 2013
Video by albertnoonan

Best 2013 Leonard Cohen Videos: Cohencentric.com is featuring selections from the current Best Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2013 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour

The Tangled Credits Of Passing Through On The Leonard Cohen Live Songs Album


creditlc3Although many fans believe Passing Through to be the work of Leonard Cohen, the song was actually written in 1948 by Richard Blakeslee. Dominique BOILE explains the credit issues with Leonard Cohen recordings of Passing Through. These notes were first published (in French) Feb 9, 2010 on the French Leonard Cohen site administered by Patrice Close.1

Passing Through (sometimes called Passing Thru), released on the Live Songs album, holds a special place among the songs of Leonard Cohen.

On the original 33 rpm vinyl Live Songs LP (Holland: 1973), the 45 rpm vinyl record (Germany), and the 45 rpm promo, only Leonard Cohen is credited for the song.


On the 33 rpm vinyl Live Songs LP (Israel: 1973), however, we find Passing Through “Composed by R. Blakeslee – Arranged by L. Cohen.” More precisely, we find “Composed by R. Blakeslee – Arranged by L. Cohen” listed beneath the list of six songs on Side 1 without an indication of which song those credits reference.

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  1. Passing Through (ou Passing Thru) que l’on trouve sur l’album Live Songs est une chanson particulière dans l’oeuvre de Leonard Cohen.  Sur le disque vinyle 33 tours original de 1973 – Made In Holland – Leonard Cohen est crédité comme étant l’auteur et le compositeur de cette chanson.

    Sur le même vinyle 33 tours de 1973 Made In Israël on peut lire : Composed by R. Blakeslee – Arranged by L. Cohen.

    Par contre, sur le 45 tours vinyle de cette même époque, il est indiqué sous le titre (R. Blakeslee – Arr. L. Cohen).

    Dans le livre The Lyrics Of Leonard Cohen : Passing Through (words and music by Leonard Cohen).

    Dans The Complete Guide To The Music Of Leonard Cohen il est noté “Passing Through was written by Richard Blakeslee, although Cohen
    claims an arranger’s credit for this version”.

    C’est effectivement une chanson écrite en 1948 par Richard Blakeslee.

    Elle a été chantée par Pete Seeger (album Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry at Carnegie Hall – Folkways Records – 1958)
    ou encore Cisco Houston (The Folkways Years 1944 – 1961).

    On peut entendre une très belle version de Passing Through sur le 33 tours vinyle The Earl Scruggs Revue Volume One Anniversary Special
    produit par Bob Johnston (référence CBS 80821 – 1975 – Printed In Holland).
    Les couplets de cette chanson sont interprétés, tour à tour et dans l’ordre, par :
    Joan Baez – Leonard Cohen – Buffy Sainte Marie – Ramblin’ Jack Elliott et The Pointer Sisters !

    A noter : c’était, en 1975, la première apparition de Leonard Cohen sur un disque autre que le sien (si on exclut les disques de poèmes). []

“Ah friends, it’s been so fine, Been so good, Been so sweet. Been so nice, I’d like to keep this going for a long time but we’re pushing right against the curfew.” Leonard Cohen – Amsterdam 2012

Leonard Cohen To Amsterdam Audience At End Of 2013 European Tour – August 22, 2012. Photo by Peter Torbijn of The Netherlands. More information about and photos of this episode can be found at Leonard Cohen & Friends Stay Out Past Curfew In Euphoric Act Of Memento Mori, Originally posted September 21, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

Leonard Cohen on “The reanimation of the blood-lust which human beings seem to fall back on whenever they get mildly bewildered about their predicament” 1994

As I said, ‘I have seen the future baby, it is murder.’  I would say one of the consequences is going to be tremendous disorder and the reanimation of the blood-lust which human beings seem to fall back on whenever they get mildly bewildered about their predicament. When the Berlin Wall came down, I wrote, ‘Give me back the Berlin Wall, give me Stalin and Saint Paul’ — there weren’t many people saying that at the time.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From A Purple Haze To A Purple Patch by Adam Sweeting (The Canberra Times: July 24, 1994)

2009 Leonard Cohen Kansas City Show Ranked #1 In Concert Chris’ “Top 20 Favorite Shows Of The Year”

1. Leonard Cohen 11-9 at The Midland Theater, KC

After the first song ended I said to my buddy that “it’s so good it feels fake.” I had no idea how good this show would be. The dude’s 75 but as spry as any indie band kid skipping on and off stage. The production and musicianship on stage was remarkable and the crowd hung on every word. Thanks Mr. Cohen.

From Top 20 Favorite Shows Of The Year, Kc And Elsewhere – Concert Chis: December 18, 2009. This photo of the marquee taken by Joey Carenza.

“You sense the destruction of your body & your mind, and you feel here is…the last boxing ring, or the last Ouija board, where you can examine some of the ideas that have intrigued you. That have seized you, really.” Leonard Cohen

The clear sense that you know you’re in the homeward stretch is a very compelling component in writing. A lot of other things fall away that you hope would satisfy you like human life, and your work becomes a kind of haven, and you want to go there, and you’re grateful when the time opens in such a way that you can actually sit down and work at your own work, because everything else somehow has failed. I’m speaking not just for myself. Somehow, just in the nature of things, you know, the disappointments accumulate, and the obstacles multiply and you sense the destruction of your body, and your mind, and you feel here is the last arena, ‘arena’ is too big, the last boxing ring, or the last Ouija board, where you can examine some of the ideas that have intrigued you. That have seized you, really.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Coffee and candour with Cohen by Simon Houpt (Globe & Mail: Feb. 27, 2009). Originally posted July 25, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: 1988 Leonard Cohen Interview With Matt Zimbel: I’m Your Man, Songwriting, European Popularity, Jennifer Warnes & More

From the YouTube description:

This is the raw footage of an interview I did with Leonard in 1988 in Toronto at the Four Seasons Hotel. for a BBC/ABC/CBC co-production documentary music show I co-hosted called “Wired”. The interview has never been seen in it’s full length before. At times it will require your patience as the tape was quite degraded and we have done our best to restore, but felt the content should rule and therefore there are some spotty moments. Since this is a television interview one must quickly note that while the subject looks timeless, the interviewer is clearly the victim of vintage 1980’s “hairdressing”, which was shortly thereafter considered a fashion crime.

Leonard is a master interview subject; present, measured, funny, philosophical. His vocabulary is striking, but not in a pretentious way; for example he might call a tour, “an enterprise” or an abandoned idea would “overthrown”, to get out of something, one might “extract “ themselves…He speaks slowly, allowing himself time… to… consider… what… to… say. next. It is a journalistic seduction – one starts to wait for the considered words of the poet with great anticipation. But unlike so many of the famous, his willingness to connect appears so genuine. During our interview I truly believed there was no place he would rather be than talking to me.

I bragged to my journalist friends, ‘oh man, wait until you hear the interview I did with Leonard, it was incredible, he was so charming, so engaged…no question this is the best interview I have ever heard him do”. “Really?” they would say, “he did a pretty great one on our show too”. “Yeah, right!” And then I would hear the interview on their show and it would be the same interview, just as warm, just as revealing, just as exclusive feeling… but not exclusive at all, God damn it.

Leonard Cohen On The Mistaken Interpretation Of Sex In Beautiful Losers

The book [Beautiful Losers] sold 350,000 copies in paperback form in America but he couldn’t get it published in Britain because it was considered too obscene for anyone to handle.

They didn’t realise that I wasn’t turning people on to sex but putting it downquotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen by Ray Connolly. Evening Standard, July 1968