Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About James Joyce’s Influence & Bono’s Cover Of Hallelujah

Two brief excerpts from a 1995 telephone interview of Leonard Cohen by Joe Jackson have been uploaded to YouTube.

Leonard Cohen On Literary Influences – 1995

In the first, Cohen discusses the literary voices, many of which were Irish, that influenced his own work. Cohen quotes from the final paragraph of The Dead by James Joyce, making a minor error in the process:

Leonard Cohen: “snow was gen­eral over all of Ire­land”

James Joyce: “snow was gen­eral all over Ire­land”1

Leonard Cohen On Bono’s Cover Of Hallelujah – 1995

Joe Jackson, the interviewer, attempts to goad Cohen into criticizing Bono’s performance of “Hallelujah” on the Tower Of Song tribute album. Jackson, for example, points out that Bono changed Cohen’s original lyrics, “nothing on my tongue,” (from the line before the final chorus, “With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”) to “nothing on my lips.”  Cohen is clearly having none of it, first praising Bono’s characterization of David as the “first great blues singer” as well as calling the Irish musician “very smart,” and then shifting to mock outrage, proclaiming “He’s  [Bono has] ruined it. He’s dead.”

Note: Originally posted Jun 24, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. For context, the entire final paragraph from The Dead by James Joyce follows with the quoted words in bold:

    Yes, the news­pa­pers were right: snow was gen­eral all over Ire­land. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, fur­ther west­wards, softly falling into the dark muti­nous Shan­non waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely church­yard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and head­stones, on the spears of the lit­tle gate, on the bar­ren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the uni­verse and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the liv­ing and the dead. [emphasis mine] []