“One of the absolute qualifications for a writer is not knowing his arse from his elbow.” Leonard Cohen

One of the absolute qualifications for a writer is not knowing his arse from his elbow. I think that’s where it starts. With a lack of knowledge. The sense of not knowing what is happening and the need to organise experience on the page or in the song is one of the motivations of a writer.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


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 Jan 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Leonard’s songs sounded to me like I’d heard them before in a dream, even as I sat there listening to them for the first time” How Peter Lewis of Moby Grape Discovered Leonard Cohen

Harvey Kubernik, author of author of Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows (see Q&A With Harvey Kubernik) and 1967: A Complete Rock Music History of the Summer of Love, writes with the story of how musician Peter Lewis of Moby Grape came to be enthralled by Leonard Cohen.

Harvey Kubernik: I do have one question. Bob Johnston thew staff producer at Columbia Records did some producing with you and a few albums with Leonard Cohen. Did you meet Leonard 1967-1972 at Columbia or in a studio? Did you dig his records.

Peter Lewis: I just missed meeting Leonard. I first got turned on to him in New York. It must have been 68′ or 69′ when my marriage was falling apart. We were playing the Fillmore East or Village theatre. When the set was over I remember meeting Linda Eastman backstage. She was there with her camera to take pictures of the band.

I think see saw how downright lonely I was. She was one of those rare creature you meet sometimes in life who just “knows” what to do and took pity on me. When we got to her apartment that night she went to her turntable and put on Leonard’s first record. Of course “Susanne”, “That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” etc. came to me like the soundtrack of my life at the time.

Later, Bob Johnson produced our last album for Columbia “Truly Fine Citizen”, in Nashville. When the record was finished he asked me if I wanted to stay after the others went home. He said he liked my voice and wanted to introduce me to Johnny Cash, Dylan, Leonard Cohen etc.

Why did I go home with the others and not take my shot at the time? It may have been some crazy idea that Many Grape wasn’t finished yet.

Anyway, I never stopped listening to and admiring Leonard Cohen. He was the first artist I became fully conscious of, after Dylan, who could make the music fit the lyrics in a way that seemed already familiar. Anyway it all started that night at Linda’s. Leonard’s songs sounded to me like I’d heard them before in a dream, even as I sat there listening to them for the first time.

I got your 1967 book from Carol. It brought everything back in a rush. So much of what I remember about that time now got focused on my own personal experience. I had forgotten how it felt to be part of something that big.

Leonard Cohen invokes Yeats on aging: “‘A foolish passion in an old man,’ that’s not a bad calling…”

What Yeats said about ‘a foolish passion in an old man,’ that’s not a bad calling. To stay alive in the heart and the spine and the genitals, to be sensitive to these delicious movements, is not a bad way to go.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993

DrHGuy Note: Leonard Cohen’s Yeats reference appears to be to the final line of A Prayer For Old Age by William Butler Yeats:

God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;

From all that makes a wise old man
That can be praised of all;
O what am I that I should not seem
For the song’s sake a fool?

I pray—for word is out
And prayer comes round again—
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.

Note: Originally posted Jan 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Best Bootlegs: Leonard Cohen – Bonn 1979

Leonard Cohen: Upon A Smokey Evening

Bonn 1979 [Golden Rain, 2CD]
Live at the Großer Saal, Beethovenhalle
Bonn, West Germany: December 3, 1979.
Very good FM broadcast.

From the ROIO site:

Cohen surrounded himself with a coterie of superb musicians. As a nucleus, he co-opted the Austin, Texas-based jazz band, Passenger (Steve Meador on drums, Roscoe Beck on bass, Mitch Watkins on guitar, Bill Ginn on keyboards and Paul Ostermayer on sax and flute). Further extending the core group’s capabilities were violinist Raffi Hakopian and John Bilezikjian on the oud – an 11-string pear-shaped instrument, visually similar to a mandolin -all of whom had also contributed to ‘Recent Songs’. Completing the ensemble, Leonard’s brace of backing singers on the jaunt were long-time friend and colleague Jennifer Warnes (who later released her own Cohen tribute album, ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ in 1987) and another Cohen collaborator and future song-writing partner, Sharon Robinson.

This concert, from Bonn’s prestigious 2,000-capacity Beethovenhalle, was recorded towards the end of the European extravaganza on December 3, and, as is evident, the cast were performing superbly by this juncture. ‘Recent Songs’ was, and remained, a personal favourite of Leonard’s: “I think I like ‘Recent Songs’ the best. The producer was Henry Levy – I was studying with Roshi at the time in Los Angeles and it was appropriate that I worked with a Los Angeles producer. He had that great quality that Bob Johnston (Bob Dylan’s producer) had: a lot of faith in the singer and he just let it happen. He introduced me to the group Passenger. I’d always wanted to combine those Middle Eastern or Eastern European sounds with the rhythmic possibilities of a jazz or rock’n’roll rhythm section,” he later stated.


Disc 1 (57 mins)
Track 101. Bird On The Wire 5:37
Track 102. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye 4:19
Track 103. Who By Fire 7:18
Track 104. Passing Through 5:14
Track 105. The Window 5:34
Track 106. Lover Lover Lover 8:20
Track 107. So Long, Marianne 6:31
Track 108. The Stranger Song 6:18
Track 109. Chelsea Hotel 2 4:24
Track 110. A Singer Must Die 2:43

Disc 2 (56 mins)
Track 201. The Partisan 3:23
Track 202. Famous Blue Raincoat 5:29
Track 203. There Is A War 4:44
Track 204. The Gypsy’s Wife 5:43
Track 205. The Guests 5:35
Track 206. Suzanne 6:33
Track 207. Memories 5:39
Track 208. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong 4:48
Track 209. Tonight Will Be Fine 6:34
Track 210. I Tried To Leave You 7:32

From ROIO site: As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Download Information

The files are already in MP3 format (320 kbps). available for download directly from the site, thus avoiding the need to enter codes, decompress the files, or deal with the hassles of download services. The cover art shown above is available on site.

This bootleg can be downloaded at Roio – Leonard Cohen – Bonn 1979

“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.