Leonard Cohen On Writing, Herrings, & Blonde Girls In Oslo (1960s)

I’ve been working on my new book but today I feel like giving up writing. The air is too sweet for all this working of the mind, the herrings are too tasty. When I am not watching blonde girls I am eating herring and sometimes I do both.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen writing from Oslo while traveling with Marianne in the 1960s. From Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen By Ira B. Nadel (Random House of Canada: 1996). Originally posted July 11, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on “what makes [Montreal] a good city for poets”

Eclecticism is the situation in Montreal continually. It’s because the cultures are distinct. You’re taking something from the English, something from the French, something from the Jews – something from the past, something from the future. That’s what makes it a good city for poets. Things are still distinct. You do know that you’re penetrating into other sensibilities. It isn’t blurred, like in America, where the American idea is so strong.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin. Canadian Forum: August/September 1983. Photo by By Chicoutimi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted Feb 6, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

More About Leonard Cohen’s Montreal

The best articles about Leonard Cohen’s Montreal homes and haunts as well as videos and a list of pertinent landmarks can be found at Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal.

“I still pack [Leonard Cohen] like a sleeping pill, a beautiful ghost to surrender to, a spiritual songster for these unspiritual times.” Ahmed Rashid

Throughout my life I have taken Cohen everywhere and I have done so like many others for wanting the poetry of love and tolerance, musical harmony and his gruff voice to end days of covering wars and political conflict as a journalist. Whenever I travel I still pack him like a sleeping pill, a beautiful ghost to surrender to, a spiritual songster for these unspiritual times. In a 1993 interview he came closest to defining his credo:

“I am completely open and transparent and therefore its easy for anyone to grasp the emotion that’s there. I am the person who tries everything and experience myself as falling apart. I try drugs, Jung, Zen meditation, love and it all falls apart at every moment. And the place where it all comes out is in the critical examination of those things – the songs. And because of this, I am vulnerable. There’s the line in ‘Anthem’ that says, ‘There’s a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.’ That sums it up: it’s as close to a credo as I’ve come.”quotedown2

Ahmed Rashid


From Death Of Leonard Cohen by Ahmed Rashid (ahmedrashid.com: November 11 2016). Photo by Chatham House – Ahmed Rashid, Journalist; Author, Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West, CC  Wikipedia Commons

Also see Why I Love Leonard Cohen by Ahmed Rashid (New York Review of Books: Nov 15, 2012)

Thanks to Klaus Offermann, who alerted me to Death Of Leonard Cohen by Ahmed Rashid

Video: Leonard Cohen & The Lip-synching Lennettes Perform Take This Waltz – Norwegian TV, Feb 13, 1988

This is another iteration of the 1988 promotions Leonard Cohen made with backup singers, usually anonymous stand-ins, lip-synching his songs on TV in France, Germany, Belgium, and other European countries. Other videos of thee promotions can be viewed at

Thanks to Maria Cohen Viana, who alerted me to this video

Q: Is communication terrifying? Leonard Cohen: “It’s the easiest thing and the hardest thing”

From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabatoge Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview). Originally posted April 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric