“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)

Leonard Cohen On Jung “As a western scientist, his appreciation of the Oriental psychology and Oriental psychical anatomy … dissolved the western view that their psychology was mystical”

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I more or less came to Jung through oriental studies. He’d written some prefaces to the I Ching and also The Secret of the Golden Flower. As a western scientist, his appreciation of the Oriental psychology and Oriental psychical anatomy — mysticism, whatever that means — dissolved the western view that their psychology was mystical. He saw systematically a diagram of the psyche. It was valid. That kind of view developed in the West in the Forties where we had a radical change in our perception of their work. I think Jung probably led in that re-evaluation of Oriental methodology. It’s the science of the orient. It’s not mysticism. The word mysticism is used in a somewhat pejorative sense. The point Jung makes in all his prefaces is that these things are pragmatic, that they refer to the mechanics of the psyche and can be properly studied. He demystified the work that the Orientals had done.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen: Working for the World to Come. The interview (probably from 1982) was published in the book In Their Own Words: Interviews with fourteen Canadian writers, by Bruce Mayer and Brian O’Riordan, 1984. Accessed at LeonardCohenfiles. Originally posted September 28, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

 

“One is always wrestling with one’s doubt, indifference and Dionysian appetite …” Leonard Cohen On The Elements Of His Work

lc-good dublin2-1024 Interviewer: Was there ever complete disillusionment?

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Every day. Whatever I’m studying, I have the sense that this isn’t it. One is always wrestling with one’s doubt, indifference and Dionysian appetite: You know – let’s go get drunk and forget this stuff. Maybe this doesn’t lead to anywhere. These are just the elements of my work. I don’t think they’re great. They’re just all I have.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin. Canadian Forum: August/September 1983. Photo by Armando Fusco. Originally posted Feb 6, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric