“We’re in the middle of the Flood” Leonard Cohen On Why He Hasn’t Read Lorca’s Or His Own Biography (1992)

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People have time to sit around reading biographies? Haven’t they heard the bad news? We’re in the middle of the Flood. Well, maybe that’s the appropriate behavior in a flood: Get yourself a corner, slippers, tweed jacket with leather elbows; light the old pipe, and break open the bio and spend a pleasant evening.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

For context, the paragraph preceding this quotation follows:

Lorca’s vision was of “a universe I understood thoroughly,” Cohen says, “and I began to pursue it, to follow it, and to live in it.” But he would not read the poet’s hefty biography published last year. He won’t even read his own, the recently published and scholarly “Prophet of the Heart,” written by Loranne S. Dorman and Clive L. Rawlins.

From Leonard Cohen, Pain Free by Sheldon Teitelbaum. Los Angeles Times: April 05, 1992. Originally posted June 7, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“What I was after was a significant high, so during the ’50’s and ’60s I tried everything I could get my hands on. But in time I found that this high became more available through other forms of activity…” Leonard Cohen

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What I was after was a significant high, so during the ’50’s and ’60’s I tried everything I could get my hands on. But in time I found that this high became more available through other forms of activity. And the mind that is produced by certain kinds of study, certain kinds of discipline, is so much more finely-attuned to those areas you want to get the news from that, in the end, even using hashish is like treating a pocket watch with a sledgehammer. I wouldn’t go near drugs nowadays. Cigarettes are the only drugs I’m combating now.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

“I’ve found there’s a certain emptiness to my songs that allows for a lot of interpretations.” Leonard Cohen On Singing His Songs In Different Ways

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When you’re on the road for a long period of time, you tend to sing songs in different ways. You can bring a certain kind of nobility to a depressed lyric, or you can deliver a very affirmative statement like a lamentation. I’ve found there’s a certain emptiness to my songs that allows for a lot of interpretations.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin. Canadian Forum: August/September 1983. Photo by Armando Fusco. Originally posted July 28, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I don’t know what I’m trying to convey [in a song], never have. I’m grateful when a song comes together and starts a life of its own” Leonard Cohen

lcheadFrom raw Q&A transcript submitted for Adam Cohen à la rescousse by Alain de Repentigny (La Presse: Oct 19, 2016).

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Leonard Cohen’s Songwriting Shifts From “I’ve had to scrape them out of my heart” (1972) To “Scavenging” (2001)

1972: “I’ve had to scrape them out of my heart”

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I’ve never written [lyrics] with the kind of luxury of choice. I’ve never sat down at my table and said ‘there are people starving and there are people who are being tortured and brutalized, I must write a song to redeem them’. My songs have come to me, I’ve had to scrape them out of my heart. They come in pieces at a time and in showers and fragments and if I can put them together into a song and I have something at the end of the excavation I’m just grateful for having it. It tells me where I am and where I’ve been. I can’t predispose the song to any situation or anything in the political realm, but if I live in the political realm and I’m aware of what is going down and my songs come out of that awareness of ignorance. A lot of my songs come out of ignorance. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From “Complexities And Mr. Cohen” by Billy Walker (Sounds, March 4, 1972).  Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles

2001: “Scavenging”

Sylvie Simmons: You had said previously that songs had to be ‘scraped’ or ‘torn’ from your heart. Is writing still that bloody?

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Did I say that? That romantic image has somewhat evaporated. Now I’d say it’s the work of a scavenger. … The content of whatever it is you write is a matter of scavenging around and trying to satisfy this appetite to make something.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Felonious Monk by Sylvie Simmons, (MOJO: November 2001) [underlining mine]

Note: Originally posted June 19, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Elaborates On “These are the final days, this is the darkness, this is the flood” From Gypsy’s Wife

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As I wrote in 1975 or 1976, ‘These are the final days, this is the darkness, this is the flood.’ I had this sense that some thing had happened, and that people were kind of hanging on to their little bits of furniture and bobbing about in the torrent. Therefore, descriptions like ‘conservative,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘pro-abortion’ or ‘anti-abortion,’ these definitions that were current and still define the political life, were entirely irrelevant, considering the catastrophe and the predicament people found themselves in.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Note: “These are the final days, this is the darkness, this is the flood” is a line from the lyrics of The Gypsy’s Wife, released on Leonard’s 1979 album Recent Songs.

From A Purple Haze To A Purple Patch by Adam Sweeting (The Canberra Times: July 24, 1994)