“I don’t have a religious attitude. I find myself up against the wall from time to time, and my heart cries out for help. I don’t know what religion it cries out in.” Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Press Conference, Reykjavik, 1988. Originally posted October 28, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Audience Member, while Leonard Cohen tunes guitar: “Good enough for folk music” Leonard Cohen: “Yeah, but not good enough for eternity” (1976)


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With his back to just over a hundred fans who filled Nashville’s Exit-In, Leonard paused for the third time to tune his guitar. A drunken voice blurted from the darkness, ‘Good enough for folk music!’ A few patrons chuckled. Leonard made a final adjustment, then casually turned to respond, ‘Yeah, but not good enough for eternity.’ He smiled his sardonic best and the adoring crowd filled the small room with laughter. Leonard was back, and we lucky few were there with him.quotedown2


 

From Leonard Lately – A Leonard Cohen interview-article by Bill Conrad.  Posted May 7, 2012 at No Depression. Note: Although not published until 2012, the article is based on an interview that took place in autumn 1976. Originally posted June 16, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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

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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

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.

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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

“I touched her [Suzanne’s] perfect body with my mind, because … there was no other way that you could touch her perfect body” Leonard Cohen on Suzanne


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The song was begun, and the chord pattern was developed, before a woman’s name entered the song. And I knew it was a song about Montreal, it seemed to come out of that landscape that I loved very much in Montreal, which was the harbour, and the waterfront, and the sailors’ church there, called Notre Dame de Bon Secour, which stood out over the river, and I knew that there’re ships going by, I knew that there was a harbour, I knew that there was Our Lady of the Harbour, which was the virgin on the church which stretched out her arms towards the seamen, and you can climb up to the tower and look out over the river, so the song came from that vision, from that view of the river. At a certain point, I bumped into Suzanne [Verdal] Vaillancourt, who was the wife of a friend of mine, they were a stunning couple around Montreal at the time, physically stunning, both of them, a handsome man and woman, everyone was in love with Suzanne Vaillancourt, and every woman was in love with Armand Vaillancourt. But there was no… well, there was thought, but there was no possibility, one would not allow oneself to think of toiling at the seduction of Armand Vaillancourt’s wife. First of all he was a friend, and second of all as a couple they were inviolate, you just didn’t intrude into that kind of shared glory that they manifested. I bumped into her one evening, and she invited me down to her place near the river. She had a loft, at a time when lofts were… the word wasn’t used. She had a space in a warehouse down there, and she invited me down, and I went with her, and she served me Constant Comment tea, which has little bits of oranges in it. And the boats were going by, and I touched her perfect body with my mind, because there was no other opportunity. There was no other way that you could touch her perfect body under those circumstances. So she provided the name in the song.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

For Suzanne Verdal’s point of view about the song, see Video: Suzanne Verdal Talks About Leonard Cohen & The Song He Wrote About Her

From 1993 Interview On BBC Radio 1FM. Found in Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music… from Hank Snow to the Band by Jason Schneider ECW Press, Dec 15, 2010) Originally posted February 19, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric