Leonard Cohen on songs as “best way to say the most important things…”


It’s very hard to really untangle the real reasons why you do anything. But I was always interested in music and it seemed to me I always played guitar. I always associated song and singing with some sort of nobility of spirit. The first songs I learned were of the workers movement. I always thought that this was the best way to say the most important things… I don’t mean the most ponderous or pompous things. I mean the important things — like how you feel about things, how you feel about someone else — and I always thought this was the way to do it. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Pacifica Interview with Kathleen Kendall. WBAI Radio, New York City: December 4, 1974. Photo by  Pete Purnell. Originally posted Dec 26, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Two Leonard Cohen Montreal Mural Alternatives By Joel Singer

Joel Singer offers two alternatives, displayed above, for the Leonard Cohen Mural To Be Created At 1420 Crescent St, Montreal, the official model of which (below, left)  does not show the actual image of Leonard Cohen that will be depicted in the actual mural.I’ve been posting alternative versions, such as You Want It Darker (below, right). All posts about the Montreal mural, including alternatives, are collected at .

Leonard Cohen On The Influence Of The Kabbalah On His Songs

Elliot: I am a professor of Jewish mysticism at NYU, and on Oct. 18th [2001] I will be delivering a lecture at McGill entitled “New Jerusalem Glowing: The Songs of Leonard Cohen in a Kabbalistic Key.” I would like to take this unique opportunity to ask Mr. Cohen directly if he has studied kabbalah or hasidism, and if so, he acknowledges a direct influence on his work.

Dear Professor Wolfson, Thank you for studying my lyrics in relation to the kabbalah. I have a very superficial knowledge of the matter but even by dipping into the many books, I have been deeply touched by what I read, and by my conversations with living Hasidic masters. The model of the Tree of Life and the activities and interactions of the sephirot has been especially influential. The idea of the in-breath to clear a space for the whole manifestation and the out-breath as the place of the manifestation, has of course been illumined by my studies with Roshi and his instructions in zen meditation. Please give my regards to the folks at McGill.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From the Sony 2001 online chat. Thanks to Tom Sakic, who alerted me to this.

“It takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is.” The Atlantic Features Leonard Cohen – & 24 Other Songwriters – On The Art Of Songwriting

The July 10, 2012 Atlantic article, 25 Great Songwriters on the Art of Songwriting by Tom Hawking, demonstrates superb editorial perspicacity in featuring a photo of Leonard Cohen in the banner for the piece and placing Cohen first among those 25 songwriters, a list that includes John Lennon, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Björk, Patti Smith, and others.

The entire article is an interesting and worthwhile read. As a random example of the content, I’ve chosen the Leonard Cohen sagacity quoted there:

I’m writing all the time. And as the songs begin to coalesce, I’m not doing anything else but writing. I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is.

Note: Originally posted July 11, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Father’s Day Photo & Greeting From Leonard Cohen – 2016


Happy Father’s Day!quotedown2


Leonard sends Father’s Day greetings and this brilliant photo of himself reading to his children, Lorca & Adam (along with a kitten clutched by Adam) at their home in Hydra.

2017 Update: Leonard sent this Father’s Day photo and greeting my way at this time last year (2016). It immediately became one of my favorite shots of Leonard and his children. Now, the fact that he took the time and effort to search out and forward this photo when he was already in pain and all but incapacitated by the illness that led to his death renders this image all the more poignant and moving.

Also see Leonard Cohen As A Father