Leonard Cohen on the “will that is behind all things,” “our own will” and “the distance between those two wills”

We sense that there is a will that is behind all things, and we’re also aware of our own will, and it’s the distance between those two wills that creates the mystery that we call religion. It is the attempt to reconcile our will with another will that we can’t quite put our finger on, but we feel is powerful and existent. It’s the space between those two wills that creates our predicament.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Robert Sward &  Pat Keeney Smith. The Malahat Review: No. 77 (1986). Originally posted July 14, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Talks About Barbara And Lorraine, The Original Sisters Of Mercy

I always remember to dedicate this song to the girls for whom I wrote it. And like a lot of my material it’s just completely documentary. It doesn’t concern high metaphysical questions but an accurate reportage as authentic and precise as I can make it, a description of exactly what happened on the interior landscape. And I was in Edmonton during a tour by myself of Canada, I guess this was around 67. I was walking along one of the main streets of Edmonton, it was bitter cold ; and I knew no-one and I passed these two girls [Barbara and Lorraine] on a doorway. They invited me to stand in the doorway with them. Of course I did. And some time later, we found ourselves in my little Hotel room in Edmonton and the three of us were gonna go to sleep together. Of course I had all kinds of erotic fantasies of what the evening might bring. Interviewer: How old were you ? Oh I was an adult. I guess I was around my early 30’s. And we went to bed together and I think we all jammed into this one small couch in this little Hotel and it became clear that it wasn’t the purpose of the evening at all. And at one point, in the night, I found myself unable to sleep, I got up, and by the moonlight – It was very very bright, the moon was being reflected off the snow, and my windows were very bright – I wrote that poem by the ice-reflected moonlight while these women were sleeping and it was one of the few songs that I ever wrote from top to bottom without a line of revision . The words flowed and the melody flowed and by the time they woke up the next morning, it was dawn. I had this completed song to sing to them.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Transcript of Pacifica Interview with Kathleen Kendall. WBAI Radio, New York City: December 4, 1974.


“[The Hero is] precisely the character we have to surrender when we move into that field of love” Leonard Cohen


Nobody can live at the centre of the drama thinking that he’s the hero and that everybody else has some kind of lesser role. So that’s precisely the character we have to surrender when we move into that field of love, and it’s always painful for him to take off his armour. He gets wounded immediately because there’s arrows flying all over the place. As soon as he take’s off his hero’s costume he goes down with an arrow in his heart, that’s why, you know, the figure of cupid arose. You go down with that arrow in your heart, it’s no joke. It’s no joke. You feel it with your children, you feel it with your mate, and you feel it with your parents, you feel it with your friends. If ever you take off the hero’s armour, you get hit right away.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns – Interview With Leonard Cohen Presented By John McKenna. RTE Ireland, May 9 & 12, 1988. Found at LeonardCohenFiles.com. Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted December 2, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on the Suitability of Los Angeles For His Work

Los Angeles is a great city – it’s falling apart on every level. Geologically it’s falling apart, politically it’s falling apart, the physical realm is also in deep fragmentation…a very suitable landscape for my dismal expression.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From “Hello, I Must Be Cohen” by Gavin Martin (New Musical Express, January 9, 1993). Originally posted August 25, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

See other Leonard Cohen geopolitical quotes at


Leonard Cohen on the Destructive Continuity of Poems

That’s what a poem does at all times. It dissolves all poetry before it and after it. It is also solidly linked in an unbroken chain with all that has come before it and all that is to come after.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Maverick Spirit: Leonard Cohen by Jim O’Brien. B-Side Magazine: August/September 1993.

Note: Compare with Pablo Picasso’s dictum “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”