Photos: Leonard Cohen & Fellow Monk Enjoy Ice Cream On A Stick – L.A. 1996



As the recently posted photo of Leonard Cohen contemplating a Popsicle indicates, the Canadian singer-songwriter has a thing for ice cream & frozen novelties.  While these screen captures from the Armelle Brusq documentary, “Leonard Cohen. Spring 1996. A Portrait,” are imperfect, the content is revealing and. well, delightful. The two images above show Leonard Cohen and a fellow Zen monk chowing down on the frozen concoction. The shot below shows Cohen, money in hand, waiting to purchase items from an ice cream truck in a Los Angeles neighborhood.

Photos of this sort are tagged


Note: Originally posted Apr 12, 2011 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Best Videos Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour: Everybody Knows – Paris


everyparisEverybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Best 2012 Leonard Cohen Videos: features selections from the Best Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2012 Leonard Cohen World Tour.

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows
Paris: Sept 30, 2012
Video by

About Those Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Can’t Forget Album: Joan of Arc – Part 1


About Those Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Can’t Forget Album

Leonard_Cohen_ASouvenirOfTheGrandTour_5x5_1500x1500About Those Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Can’t Forget Album is a series of posts offering background and historical context for songs on Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, the Leonard Cohen live album scheduled for release May 12, 2015.1 Most of the following content has previously been posted at, the earlier incarnation of Cohencentric and is being republished now in anticipation of the new album’s release.

Joan Of Arc By Leonard Cohen

songslovehateJoan of Arc was released March 19, 1971 on Leonard Cohen’s third album, Songs of Love and Hate.2 It was also released, coupled with Diamonds in the Mine, as a 45. jofarc45

Cohen’s song is constructed as a dialogue between Joan of Arc, who is being burned at the stake, and the fire ravishing her. A synopsis of Joan of Arc’s life, excerpted from Joan of Arc at (more detail and many illustrations about Joan of Arc are available on this site) follows:

Joan of Arc, a peasant girl living in medieval France, believed that God had chosen her to lead France to victory in its long-running war with England. With no military training, Joan convinced the embattled crown prince Charles of Valois to allow her to lead a French army to the besieged city of Orléans, where it achieved a momentous victory over the English and their French allies, the Burgundians. After seeing the prince crowned King Charles VII, Joan was captured by Anglo-Burgundian forces, tried for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake in 1431, at the age of 19.

Cohen attests that Joan of Arc, like many of his songs, underwent multiple revisions.

The song had too many verses and it took about five years to sort out the right ones.3


Handwritten draft of Leonard Cohen’s Joan of Arc; this and other pages can be viewed at LeonardCohenFiles

Cohen elaborated on the theme of the song in a 1988 interview:

Interviewer: Joan of Arc was a soldier, a mould breaker. She was too, a girl adrift in a political world she didn’t fully understand or embrace. Cohen’s song about her concentrates on the human being, the uncertain one behind the armour. He views her as a woman pursued by fire until eventually, inevitably, that fire is her consuming passion. Cohen’s Joan is alone in her tent, the army dependent on her clarity of mind; a nation tied to her strategy. And what we find in that tent is a woman without interest in the war. Her armour no longer bright, without a man to get her through the night. She craves a wedding dress, something white, something at odds with the fighting about her. So, is Leonard Cohen saying a woman ultimately needs a man to be fulfilled?

Leonard Cohen: I was thinking more of this sense of a destiny that human beings have and how they meet and marry their destiny, how ultimately there is, you know, a male or a minus-plus, however you want to put it, you know a positive-negative yin-yang, male-female; that there is this connection that we have with our – with the unfolding of our lives. I don’t want to suggest in that song that what she really wanted to be was a housewife. What I mean to say is that as lonely and as solitudinous as she was she had to meet and be embraced by her destiny. That’s all I mean by that imagery, because – I’ve just been reading a lot about Joan of Arc again – she continues to fascinate me that woman, and seen from the point of view of the woman’s movement she really does stand for something stunningly original and courageous. There’s a great chapter about her in Andrea Dworkin’s book, Intercourse. It’s a grand chapter on Joan of Arc and really a passionate evocation of what her real achievement was at the time to by-pass everything and to go right into the centre of activity. So I don’t mean to suggest that she really wanted a wedding ring and some kids and day-care.4

In another interview, the Canadian singer-songwriter explained

[Joan of Arc]  was a strange song indeed; it was out of myself and contained the notion of reverence. When I recorded that song I will admit to having a strong religious feeling. I don’t think it’ll happen again.5

Cohen addressed the gender politics of Joan of Arc:

[Joan of Arc] might be [a sexist song] but I think it is on the side of women. But more accurately…it is just a song about the total gift of total giving and the total consummation of the spirit in that kind of experience. It takes in the whole shot to be man and woman. 6

And finally there is this enigmatic exchange:

Q: Do you have a thing for Joan of Arc?
Leonard Cohen: I used to – but I don’t see her that much anymore7

Nico & Joan Of Arc

Nico at Lampeter University (Nov 1985)

Nico at Lampeter University (Nov 1985)

Nico, the German singer with the Velvet Underground and a fixture in Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd who repeatedly spurned Cohen’s advances,8 preferring younger men, was an inspiration for Joan of Arc.9 Leonard Cohen introduced the song in a 1974 Paris concert with Arc with these words:

This song was written for a German girl [Nico] I used to know. She’s a great singer, I love her songs. I recently read an interview where she was asked about me and my work. And she said “I was completely unnecessary.” Anyhow…. I hope she’s not here. This song came through her.10

In addition, Cohen reported this conversation about Joan of Arc with Nico:

Interviewer: Do you still fall in love easily?

Leonard Cohen: Oh, I fall in love all the time. I remember walking with Nico and I said, ‘Do you think Joan of Arc fell in love?’ and she said, ‘All the time Leonard. All the time’. I feel my heart going out 100 times a day.11

Because of Nico’s involvement in the song, the line, “Such a cold and lonesome heroine” is widely held to be a double entendre exploiting  the  homophones “heroine” and “heroin.”

Leonard Cohen’s Studio Version Of Joan Of Arc


Next: Joan of Arc, Part 2 – The Live Versions

Update: Part 2 is now online at About Those Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Can’t Forget Album: Joan of Arc – The Concert Performances

Credit Due Department: Photo of Nico: Nico at Lampeter University – November 1985 (1)“ von GanMed64Flickr: Nico (The Velvet Underground) – Lampeter University – November 1985. Lizenziert unter CC BY 2.0 über Wikimedia Commons.

Other Posts About Those Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Can’t Forget Album

All posts in this series can be found at About Those Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Can’t Forget Album

  1. See It’s Official – Leonard Cohen “Can’t Forget” Live Album: Tracks, Sources, Pre-Order Info, & More []
  2. The display of cover art brings to mind the back cover of Cohen’s first album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, shown below, which is sometimes conjectured to represent Joan of Arc. It is not. Cohen himself described it instead as “a Mexican religious picture called ‘Anima Sola,’ the lonely spirit or the lonely soul. It is the triumph of the spirit over matter, the spirit being that beautiful woman breaking out of the chains and the fire and prison.”  Source: Ladies and Gents, Leonard Cohen by Jack Hafferkamp. Rolling Stone: February 4, 1971

    songsbkcover []

  3. Leonard Cohen: In Every Style of Passion by Jim Devlin. Omnibus Press: 1996 []
  4. How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns – Interview With Leonard Cohen Presented By John McKenna. RTE Ireland, May 9 & 12, 1988 []
  5. Cohen Regrets by Alastair Pirrie. Beat Patrol: December 30, 2008. Originally written for the New Musical Express: March 10, 1973. []
  6. Transcript of Pacifica Interview with Kathleen Kendall. WBAI Radio, New York City: December 4, 1974. []
  7. Life On The Ledge With Leonard Cohen by Jon Marlowe. The Miami News: Nov 9, 1977 []
  8. Cohen called her “The most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.”  Source: Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen’s head?  by Tim de Lisle. The Guardian: Sept 16, 2004 []
  9. Nico was also an inspiration for Memories, Take This Longing, and One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong. []
  10. Leonard Cohen Prologues []
  11. As a New Generation Discovers Leonard Cohen’s Dark Humour Kris Kirk Ruffles the Great Man’s Back Pages” by Kris Kirk. Poetry Commotion, June 18, 1988. []

Warning Sign #21: You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If –


You routinely employ, without explanation, “Video By Albert Noonan” as the gold standard for Leonard Cohen concert videos

See Albert Noonan – The Man Behind The Camera In Those Great Leonard Cohen Concert Videos

Leonard Cohen Fan Diagnosis: Cohenphilic Personality Disorder

Since the publication of the official criteria for the prototypical Leonard Cohen Fan Diagnosis, 301.LC Cohenphilic Personality Disorder, the Cohencentric Leonard Cohen Fan Disorders Asylum and Sanitarium has received numerous messages asking if one or another behavior is a symptom characteristic of a Leonard Cohen fan. Consequently, Cohencentric is publishing, as a public service, signs which indicate that one is at high risk of being a full-fledged Leonard Cohen fan.

All published You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … entries can be found at the You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … Page

Credit Due Department: Photo of Albert Noonan filming in Zagreb courtesy of Kenneth Forsyth.

Leonard Cohen On Meditation: From “Your Top Ten Erotic Fantasies” To “Know Thyself”

You run through your top ten erotic fantasies, ambition fantasies, revenge fantasies, global ratification fantasies. You run through them all until you bore yourself to death, basically, and the faculty that produces opinions and snap judgments and unrealistic scenarios for your own prominence, after you run through them for a number of years, they cease to have charge. They bore themselves into non-existence. You see them as diversions from another kind of intimacy that you become more interested in – and that is what Socrates said: Know Thyself.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From He Has Tried in His Way to Be Free [Update: no longer online] by Sarah Hampson (Shambhal Sun: November 2007). Originally posted February 22, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Photo: Leonard Cohen With Joseph Carenza & Roscoe Beck – Munich 2008

In this screen shot from a 2008 video of an incipiently bearded Leonard Cohen in Munich, Joseph Carenza, the Tour Road Manager, is on Leonard’s right while Roscoe Beck, the Music Director for this and other Cohen tours, is to Leonard’s left. Originally posted Feb 18, 2011 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Hear Joni Mitchell Talk About “Deliciously Decadent” Leonard Cohen, A Fake Tim Buckley & Green Sunsets


Joni Mitchell 1988 Radio Broadcast

On September 6, 1988,  Joni Mitchell appeared on “Hubert On The Air,” a one-hour show on Dutch radio hosted by Hubert van Hoof, to select and comment on her favorite songs, the ones that “thrilled her” or, alternatively, “knocked her socks off” from her childhood to the time of the broadcast.1 Mitchell, who can sometimes come off as defensive or even bitter about her musical influences, is generous, thoughtful, and charming in this instance.

Joni Mitchell Talks About Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” Green Sunsets & Tim Buckley Impostor

The excerpt below from the show features her comments about “Suzanne” and a related incident about accompanying a man who claimed to be Tim Buckley (although Mitchell knew this was only a pose) on a cruise near Miami where she sighted a green sunset. The 7.5 minute clip also includes a recording of Leonard Cohen singing “Suzanne.”


Bonus: Green Flash Sunsets

Continue Reading →

  1. Joni’s song choices, most of which (though not the classical pieces), were part of the the broadcast, follow:

    • Stravinsky: Rites of Spring – Dance of the Adolescents
    • Rachmaninoff: Theme from Paganini
    • Miles Davis: It Never Entered My Mind
    • Louis Jordan: Saturday Night Fish Fry
    • Bill Haley: Rock Around the Clock
    • Chuck Berry: Maybelline
    • Bob Dylan: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
    • Edith Piaf with Les Companions de la Chanson: Trois Cloches (3 bells)
    • Billie Holiday: You’ve Changed
    • Leonard Cohen: Suzanne
    • Buffalo Springfield: Rock and Roll Woman, Broken Arrow
    • Jimi Hendrix: The Wind Cries Mary []

Leonard Cohen To 1993 Finnish Audience: “A documentary…indicated that you were solemn and melanholy and depressed. And I come here to cheer myself up!”

Oh, thank you so much for your warm reception and thank you for coming tonight. I appreciate it. I know that times are hard and ticket prices are high and … I appreciate you’re in here. Many of the places that we go to we bring them our bad news, but we don’t have to bring you the bad news, ’cause you know the bad news already. And the whole history of your country is knowing the bad news. In America, there was recently a documentary on your people in which it was indicated that you were solemn and melancholy and depressed. And I come here to cheer myself up!

Leonard Cohen


Introduction to The Future at April 29, 1993 Helsinki concert transcribed from bootleg. See other Leonard Cohen geopolitical quotes at

Video: 2010 Grammys Award Leonard Cohen 30 Seconds Of Faint Praise For Lifetime Of Superb Achievement


Well, At Least They Didn’t Take Back The Award

I confess that the headline, “Grammys Award Leonard Cohen 30 Seconds Of Faint Praise For Lifetime Of Spectacular Achievement,” is misleadingly exaggerated.

If one subtracts the time taken by applause, the official commendation of Leonard Cohen at the 2010 Grammy Awards Show was efficiently and  fully executed in 19 seconds.

In making that 19 second announcement of Leonard Cohen’s Lifetime Achievement Award, however, Seal invoked the full majesty, authority, and prestige  of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States with an impressively vapid,  cliched, and immediately forgettable acknowledgment of Leonard Cohen’s extraordinary forty year career as a singer-songwriter.

OK, on reviewing that last sentence, I see I am again guilty of unfairly and inaccurately twisting what was actually said. Viewers who carefully watch the video of this event will find that the central thesis of Seal’s impressively vapid, cliched, and instantly forgettable declaration had less to do with Cohen’s accomplishments than with the conceit that the decision to bestow the Lifetime Achievement Award upon Leonard Cohen was  to Seal’s liking, As an extra treat, Seal’s blessing of the award was augmented with the revelation that Seal’s personal favorite among Cohen’s songs is “Hallelujah.”

Leonard Cohen was not present to hear this adulation in person but was represented by a vapid, cliched, and instantly forgettable set of projected images (the astute reader may notice a trend here) that included the screen capture shown atop this post. The award was actually presented to Cohen during the ghettoized Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony the night before the major Grammy Awards Presentation Program.

Leonard Cohen Saluted at Grammy Awards
Jan 31, 2010

Because of the brevity of this event, the video has been set to loop four times. Nonetheless, viewers are well-advised to prepare themselves prior to clicking on the video’s start button and to steadfastly maintain focus once the screening begins. And, whatever you do – Don’t Blink.

Note: Originally posted Feb 5, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric