Video: “I always had this feeling that new things were beginning” Leonard Cohen CBC Interview – 1966


My choice for Best Of Show in the CBC archive of Leonard Cohen video interviews is On The Road To Singing Sensation, which was originally broadcast in conjunction with the publication of Cohen’s novel, “Beautiful Losers,” in 1966 on This Hour Has Seven Days.1

Beryl Fox – Interviewer

Cohen’s interviewer, Beryl Fox,  was a pioneer in investigative reporting and as an accomplished documentary filmmaker. While working for the CBC, she was known for her insightful and critical examinations of U.S. politics, the feminist movement, and racial conflicts. She was also a groundbreaking critic of the role of the U.S. in the Vietnam War.2 She continued making documentaries and, later, feature films after leaving the CBC in 1966.

The Interview

Accordingly, the interview is not a puff piece nor are her queries to Cohen softballs lobbed over the plate to make the star look good. The conversation is challenging, engaging, personal, and even edgy in a place or two.

In addition, there seems to be, especially on Ms Fox’s part, elements of sexual tension and flirtatiousness.3

Leonard Cohen exercises the poet’s prerogative of re-interpreting and manipulating her words and his own to distract and deflect. A trivial but nonetheless amusing example follows:

Leonard Cohen: I always had this feeling that new things were beginning, and I thought that I would change my name and get a tattoo.

Beryl Fox: Where?

Leonard Cohen: There’s this place on St. Lawrence Blvd.

The interviewer’s facial expression at that point is a bonus.

Cohen is provocative, claiming, for example, that Canada has no government and that any couple not in love should be divorced. Fox presses (at one point she asks how Cohen’s mother reacted to reviews calling his book pornographic) but does so politely and does not redirect her interviewee when he flares off on his tangent of choice.

It is rewarding viewing.

The Video

Note: Originally posted Feb 24, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. This Hour Has Seven Days was a CBC Television newsmagazine inspired by the British satire series That Was The Week That Was. It was also controversial enough that after a two year run, it was taken off the air following the 1966 season. []
  2. The AV Trust Of Canada lauds her 1965 documentary, “The Mills of the Gods: Viet Nam,” in this excerpt:
    Beryl Fox’s The Mills of the Gods remains the quintessential example of Canadian documentary filmmaking. Fox takes us into the Vietnam War and allows us to see first hand the futility, sorrow and inhumanity at its core. Her theme of the conflict between people and ideologies is a universal and timeless one, told through haunting sound and visual images. Today, 34 years after it was first telecast, scenes of brutal civilian casualties, torture of POW’s, and gleeful napalm bombing still shock and outrage us. Contrasted with this horror are scenes from the everyday life of the Vietnamese peasantry, working in the fields, shopping in the market, going to school. Fox creates for the viewer a sense of tension and foreboding, ultimately borne out in images of death, destruction and bodybags on the nightly news. The Mills of the Gods transcends the banality of mass media images of war and still retains its extraordinary power and poignancy.
    A clip of the film is available at ~The Mills of the Gods: Viet Nam~ []
  3. Note: It does appear that on the date of the interview, either Ms Fox had the misfortune to experience a catastrophically bad hair day or a small mammal somehow landed on her head and took up residence there. The composite photo below provides a more balanced perspective on her appearance.

    []

Hear Leonard Cohen Sing, Recite Poems & Prose, Talk About His Influences, Feminism, Artists Who Cover His Songs, & More – 1974 Pacifica Interview

Leonard Cohen’s December 4, 1974 WBAI interview with Kathleen Kendel is a delight. Leonard was then touring in support of New Skin for the Old Ceremony.

The Leonard Cohen interview as a whole is amazing because of how early it was in his career and how intelligent and compelling the line of questioning was by Kathleen Kendel, but a few things stand out in this interview.

1. 1974 was basically at ground zero in the middle of the second wave of Feminism, and Kathleen Kendel takes the opportunity to engage Leonard Cohen on the possibility of sexism in his song Joan of Arc. The questions stirs Cohen to a thoughtful response.

2. Lenoard Cohen reads from an unpublished manuscript which I had to research to find out what it was by searching one line of poetry that I like which goes…”I won’t accuse you of ruining your absence.” I discovered that it was a poem called The Unclean Start (an early working version that would be changed before printing) and would be contained in a future book of poetry called Death of a Ladys’ Man… and it was published by a boutique publisher in Canada 1978 and in New York and London on Viking/Penguin in 1979.. That means we have Leonard Cohen reading his own poetry from a not yet published manuscript 4 years before publication (5 years before US publication)…!!!

And finally
3. Interviewer Kathleen Kendel prompts Cohen to read an amazing poem Two Went To Sleep from his FIRST book of poetry…!!! Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956)

From KKFI-iLeonard Cohen 1974

DrHGuy Note: A transcript of this interview is accessible at Leonard Cohen-Kathleen Kendel – Pacifica Radio

Leonard Cohen 1974 Pacifica Interview

 

Credit Due Department: Photo atop post taken at 1974 Leonard Cohen Amsterdam Concert by Pete Purnell

Video: 1976 Leonard Cohen Interview On French TV With English Translation

Leonard Cohen Reveals Difference Between Bob Dylan & Himself, Lists French Singers He Likes

Transcript & Translation by Francis Mus

Vous n’êtes pas souvent à la télévision, vous vous en méfiez?
You are not often on television; do you mistrust it?

LC: Un peu, mais moi je suis très heureux d’être invité : un chanteur étranger parmi les grands ici…
A bit, but me, I’m very happy to be invited: a foreign singer amongst those big names here…

Vous vous considérez comme un chanteur étranger?
Do you consider yourself as a foreign singer?

LC: Mais, je suis étranger
But, I am a foreigner

Vous êtes partout chez vous… Canadien anglais?
Your home is everywhere… anglophone Canadian?

LC: Oui Canadien anglais, la minorité!
Yes, anglophone Canadian, the minority!

Comment peut-on être à la fois poète, romancier, compositeur, interprète, …
How can one be at the same time poet, novelist, composer, interpreter…

LC: Fou… Non, ce n’est pas difficile. C’est la même chose.
Crazy… No, it’s not difficult. It’s the same thing.

Vous savez que vous représentez beaucoup pour la jeunesse? En êtes-vous conscient?
You know you mean a lot for the young people? Are you aware of it?

LC: Non, je n’en sais rien, vraiment.
No, I know nothing about it, really.

Qu’est-ce que vous en pensez, Charles? // Il est trop modeste // Il faut se méfier des gens modestes… ! / Parce qu’aux Etats-Unis, au Canada, on ne parle que de lui…
What do you think about it, Charles? // He is too modest. // One should mistrust modest people…! // Because in the US, in Canada, people only talk about him!

LC: Est-ce qu’on peut fumer ici?
Can I smoke in here?

Oui, bien sûr
Yes, of course

Vous écrivez en ce moment?
Are you writing at the moment?

LC: Oui, j’écris un roman, j’écris quelques livres de poésie, des romans, des choses comme ça…
Yes, I am writing a novel, I write some books of poetry, novels, things like that…

Quelle est la différence entre vous et Bob Dylan?
What is the difference between you and Bob Dylan?

LC: Il est jeune!
He is young!

Vous avez quel âge?
How old are you?

LC: 41, … et vous?
41, … and you?

(…)

En dehors de Charles Trenet, quels sont les chanteurs français que vous connaissez bien?
Besides Charles Trenet, which French singers do you know well?

LC: Oh, j’adore… Georges Brassens, Edith Piaf, Moustaki, j’aime bien…
Oh, I like… Georges Brassens, Edith Piaf, Moustaki, I like them…

Listen To Complete Jan 2012 Jarvis Cocker – Leonard Cohen Interview

Cocker-Cohen Conversation Now Online

The enlightening and entertaining January 18, 2012 interview of Leonard Cohen by Jarvis Cocker was a highlight of the coming-out publicity party for the Old Ideas album. Unfortunately, only isolated clips from that session have remained available online.  Now, however, reader Jo Meul has spotted a Soundcloud recording of the January 29, 2012 edition of Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service, “Sincerely, L. Cohen,” which features Cocker’s January 18, 2012 interview of Cohen, selected Cohen songs, and commentary.

Anyone with an interest in Leonard Cohen who missed this when it was broadcast should take advantage of this second chance to be delighted. Those who have heard the interview before will find it as fascinating – and fun – now as it was then.

Preview: During the interview, Leonard Cohen calculates that the ideas in Old Ideas are 614 years old – except those which are older, advances his claim that giving up smoking has lowered his voice, explains his feeling that he has been “scraping the bottom of the barrel just trying to get the song together,” laments the loss of many of his notebooks and the masterpieces they contained,  and looks forward to meeting Chuck Berry, with whom he shared the PEN New England’s prize for Lyrics Of Literary Excellence.

Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service
Jan 29, 2012

Credit Due Department: Photo by Mariel Argüello – http://www.flickr.com/photos/monophonicgirl/6984741610, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Note: Originally posted Jun 23, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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

_______________________

  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

talksw2

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