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] []

Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About Lines Written Under “The Tyranny Of Rhyme,” Politics, Love As An Ailment, Anjani, Recycling His Art & More – 2006

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This Feb. 7, 2006 interview offers an impressive range and depth of material (albeit organized in a somewhat random manner).

From CBC description:

Leonard Cohen has reasons to celebrate. Five of his songs are being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. As heard in this in-depth radio interview, the usually reserved artist reflects back on his life. He talks openly about his days at a Buddhist monastery, his love of wine, his failure at love and what this latest honour means for the 71-year-old artist.

The five songs by Leonard Cohen inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 were

  • Ain’t No Cure For Love
  • Bird on the Wire
  • Everybody Knows (co-written with Sharon Robinson)
  • Suzanne
  • Hallelujah

Program: Sounds Like Canada
Broadcast Date: Feb. 7, 2006
Guest: Leonard Cohen
Host: Shelagh Rogers
Duration: 21:02

Video: Leonard Cohen & Anjani Talk About Working Together On Blue Alert

This brief video features a 2006 interview with Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas by Luce Gauthier in Toronto during the promotion of the Blue Alert album (released in Canada on May 2, 2006) and appears to have originally aired on TFO, the Franco-Ontarian public television network.

While most fans will already be familiar with the information in the interview, this opportunity to hear Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas articulate the strengths each brought to their collaboration in creating Blue Alert shouldn’t be missed. The video also includes clips from Anjani’s performances.

The video, which cannot be embedded, can be viewed at YouTube: Luce Gauthier – Entrevue Leonard Cohen – Anjani

Note: Originally posted Nov 15, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

1988 Video Interview: Leonard Cohen On Dominique Issermann, Israel, Terrorism

leonard-cohen-on-dominique-isserman-israel-terrorism

Leonard Cohen The Incorrigible Poet Part 1
1988 Interview with journalist Patrick Poivre D’Arvo
French with English subtitles

Leonard Cohen The Incorrigible Poet Part 2
1988 Interview with journalist Patrick Poivre D’Arvo
French with English subtitles

Note: Originally posted Dec 14, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Videos: Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins On His Singing Debut & Suzanne

judylenHow Judy Collins Helped Leonard Cohen Start His Singer-Songwriter Career

Judy Collins – Interviewed By Bill Moyers About Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”

Judy Collins praises Cohen’s lyricism and outlines the religious inflections of his work.  She also sings “Suzanne.”

Leonard Cohen Interviewed About Judy Collins and “Suzanne”

In this video Cohen reports on the reason for his “mad decision” to “rectify [his] economic situation” by  shifting from writing poems and novels to writing and singing songs, his first meeting with Judy Collins, and his anxiety about being a singer rather than focusing exclusively on songwriting:

I remember saying to my lawyer who was accompanying me there [NYC]. In a state of panic, I said ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here; I can’t sing,’ and he said, ‘None of you guys can sing. When I want to hear singers, I go the Metropolitan Opera.’

And I think that’s more or less the position I had anyway. I never thought we were singers. I certainly never had any musical standards to tyrannize me. I thought it was something to do with the truth, that if you told your story, that’s what the song was about.

The video also includes the account by Judy Collins on Cohen’s near-catastrophic public singing debut at New York’s Town Hall and Cohen singing “Suzanne.”

Leonard Cohen photo from York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp, Identifiers: ASC01707. Judy Collins photo by ABC Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons

Note: Originally posted July 10, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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