Leonard Cohen’s comment was spoken to protest the interviewer focusing on issues (e.g., Zionism) that were “too complex, too serious to speak of over coffee.” From Love Me, Love My Gun Barrel by Graham Lock. New Musical Express: February 23, 1980. Leonard also gave yellow as his favorite color in this 1988 video interview.
On Sept. 11, Mr. Cohen was in India visiting another teacher, Ramesh Balsekar. He returned to the States as soon as he could. The level of suffering that he believes is always present in the world had been raised to unfathomable heights. And Mr. Cohen knew better than to try to comfort the comfortless.
You know, there’s an ancient Hebrew blessing that is said upon hearing bad news: ‘Blessed art thou, king of the universe, the true judge.’ It’s impossible for us to discern the pattern of events and the unfolding of a world which is not entirely our making. So I can only say that.
From Look Who’s Back at 67: Gentle Leonard Cohen by Frank DiGiacomo. New York Observer: Oct 15, 2001. Photo by Coast Guard News Originally posted May 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Except for one or two great poets like Dylan, I saw a lot that was extremely fuzzy. Then when I found out how bad the acid had been, what a bummer it really was. I started to suspect that all was not as it had been advertised. Then when I got ripped off by some people who wore boots and had long hair, I knew for certain that nothing had changed.
Quotation from Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993. Photo by Paul Townsend. Originally posted Jan 8, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
With such personal lyrics it seems that the songs must serve some psychological function, probably cathartic, but Cohen says no, seeing himself as a tradesman pure and simple.
I don’t know what it is. It becomes your work, one of the few things you know how to do, especially as you get older. The premise, when I examine it – and I don’t examine it too often – I’ve always felt that the more personal you get, the more universal the application, rather than the other way around. If you begin to address yourself to the masses like that, then I suppose you could have a hit, but to me the more accurate you get about your situation, then the more accessible it is to other people.
From Cohen Down The Road By Karl Dallas, Melody Maker, May 22, 1976. Found at Reality Now!. Photo by Roloff Beny / Library and Archives Canada / PA-196331. Note: Originally posted Jan 8, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
My mother was Russian, and she sang beautiful Russian and Yiddish songs. I love the violin, and I did put in those kind of eastern European flourishes in a country-western song [Closing Time], which I think worked rather well. It wasn’t that that didn’t get it played in country-western territory, though. What the country singers and country radio programs didn’t like was that line ‘The whole damn place goes crazy twice, once for the Devil and once for Christ,’ which they found theologically offensive, although I could reconcile it with orthodox Christian thought.
A poem has a certain — a different time. For instance, a poem is a very private experience, and it doesn’t have a driving tempo. In other words, you know, you can go back and forward; you can come back; you can linger. You know, it’s a completely different time reference. Whereas a song, you know, you’ve got a tempo. You know, you’ve got something that is moving swiftly. You can’t stop it, you know? And it’s designed to move swiftly from, you know, mouth to mouth, heart to heart, where a poem really speaks to something that has no time and that is — it’s a completely different perception.
Songwriter Leonard Cohen Discusses Fame, Poetry and Getting Older by Jeffrey Brown. PBS: Broadcast June 28, 2006. Originally posted July 17, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric