1997 Video Interview: Leonard Cohen On Zen, Depression, Women, Children, Headhunters, Loneliness, & Tennis

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Great Content, Poor Video, & Valerie Pringle

This 1997 CTV interview with Leonard Cohen is much debated among fans, many of whom argue that the interviewer, Valerie Pringle, a well known personalty in Canadian TV broadcasting, is ill informed about Cohen while others describe her as malignantly disrespectful and only secondarily ill informed. A few others feel she is only a reporter doing her job.

From my perspective, she is fairly aggressive but seems less interested in attacking Cohen than in trying hard to find an angle to exploit for her story.

There is also a striking difference in the language she uses when reading from a prepared script (e.g., during the introduction) and that used when she is off-script (e.g., following up on Cohen’s response to a question).

For example, in the lead-in to the questioning, she notes that “[Cohen’s] songs are rich with metaphor and melancholy” and ” … themes of love, death, and salvation have made him an anomaly in the world of light pop music.”  Her questions are more abrupt: “Tell me about women.”

And, she does seem to have slacked off on her homework for the interview, confusing, for example, the Suzanne who is the mother of Cohen’s children (Suzanne Elrod) with the Suzanne who was the inspiration for the song of that name (Suzanne Vaillancourt). While a common and understandable mistake, it seems a significant error for someone with a reputation as a professional interviewer to make in a scheduled program featuring a well known national figure whose biographical material is easily accessible.

And, her attempt to perpetuate the myth that the elimination of an artist’s depression will also eliminate his creativity is just embarrassing.

In any case, Leonard Cohen, as he has done routinely since he was an up and coming young poet, covers the material he wishes, regardless of the questions asked.

He does, however, appear ill at ease on occasion. My reading of that discomfort is that Cohen is less concerned that the interviewer is asking deeply probing, difficult questions than that she is a loose cannon.

Update: Gordana Stupar has located  superior version of this video at CTV News Video Network

Note: Originally posted Sept 5, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Watch Leonard Cohen Talk About The Favourite Game In 1963 CBC TV Interview

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Playing The Favourite Game: CBC Youth Special with Paddy Springate and Stuart Smith (1963)

Leonard Cohen takes on reviewers and Canadian modesty in this 10 minute discussion of his “third novel disguised as a first novel.” He denies the accusation that the work  is autobiographical and defends the honesty of his protagonist: “My book may be lousy but it’s true.”

Video: Leonard Cohen Talks About Songwriting, Making Videos, Truth Vs Facts…

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Also Featuring Jennifer Warnes, Harry Rasky, Judy Collins

While this video from ZoomerMedia is labeled only “Leonard Cohen,” I agree with Gordana Stupar’s speculation that it is the CBC broadcast “An Evening With Leonard Cohen.” It certainly fits the description of that show found at Diamonds in the Mine:

3 March 1989 – An Evening With Leonard Cohen – CBC
Documentary featuring interviews and live clips from Paris 1988. Jennifer Warnes, Harry Rasky, Judy Collins, Moses Znaimer provided comments and clips from the BBC Songs from the Life of Leonard Cohen were also included.

Leonard Cohen
Uploaded on YouTube by ZoomerMedia

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Gordana Stupar, who alerted me to this video

Video: Watch Leonard Cohen Read Poems, Talk About Writing On 1980 CBC Authors With Patrick Watson

authorsOn February 1 and 8, 1980, Leonard Cohen was interviewed on CBC’s Authors With Patrick Watson. Both episodes are presented here. Leonard is a tad more stilted than usual, but, as I’ve noted before, “Leonard Cohen gives good interview,” and this is no exception. And his adept management of his cigarette holder is spellbinding.

Topics include the effect of drugs on the creative process, the significance of marriage and children, saintliness, Bob Dylan, the notion that Cohen grapples “with depressing aspects of the world,” the characterization of his work as “more eccentric” rather than “dominating a field,” sending a song out into the world, and the utility of a song.

Leonard Cohen reads This Marriage and Slowly I Married Her from Death Of A Lady’s Man and The Rest Is Dross from Flowers For Hitler.

Leonard Cohen Interview
CBC Authors with Patrick Watson: February 1 and 8, 1980

Video uploaded by A Lazy Bastard In A Suit (ALBIAS)

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Jo Meul, who alerted me to to this video.