“I tried all the conventional remedies [for depression] – wine, women and song. Nothing worked, including religion” Leonard Cohen On The Resolution Of His Clinical Depression

For me, [the retreat at Mount Baldy Zen Center] was one of the many attempts I’ve made in the past thirty or forty years to address a condition known as acute clinical depression. I tried all the conventional remedies – wine, women and song. Nothing worked, including religion. But fortunately, this condition dissolved. [Interviewer: With being on the mountain?] I don’t know. I don’t know how it began or how it ended, but, thankfully, it did end. Nothing worked for me. Not the recreational drugs, nor the obsessional drugs, nor the pharmaceutical medications. The only effect Prozac had on me, I confused with a spiritual achievement – I thought I’d transcended my interest in women. I later learned the destruction of the libido is one of the side effects. But it’s a mysterious conclusion, because I really don’t know what happened. I read somewhere that as you get older, the brain cells associated with anxiety begin to die. [Pauses] A lot of other brain cells die, too, so you’ve got to watch out.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen on Becoming a Monk, Why His Opinions Don’t Matter by Mark Binelli. Rolling Stone: Nov 8, 2001.

More about Leonard Cohen’s depression can be found at .  All Cohencentric posts on this issue are collected at .

Recommended Online Reading: Conversations From A Room (Leonard Cohen Interview) by Tom Chaffin

Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin (Canadian Forum: August/September 1983) is an outstanding interview that makes for rewarding reading. It is saturated with significant Cohen quotations on performing concerts, Montreal, poetry, politics, songwriting, and housecleaning. As a sampling, I offer the final words of the article, in which Leonard responds to the critics’ charge that “his recent celebrity has blunted his powers on the printed page:”

There’s something about daily life that threatens [artistic integrity], and you’re not going to be able to do anything about that. I find that kind of speculation totally irrelevant. You have to ham it up when you go out and apply for a job. The fact is, we live in this world. This is the vale of tears. This is the plane we operate on. What everybody’s talking about is the loss of innocence. So — deal with your innocence as you will. You’re probably in trouble, anyway, if you’re in this [singer-songwriter] racket. So fame becomes just another thing to look out for.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

“I have some work to do in the world and I try to do it the best I can; if I can find a public that is receptive to it, I’m happy. And if I can’t, then I’ll still continue doing it.” Leonard Cohen

From The Song Of Leonard Cohen by Harry Rasky (while the documentary itself was produced in 1980, Leonard Cohen made that statement during the 1979 Field Commander Cohen Tour that was the subject matter of Rasky’s film).

“You shouldn’t have to wait in line to take a bath” Leonard Cohen’s Criterion For Choosing Hotels On Tour (1972)

On my last tour [1972] I had asked my management not to put me into the first-class hotels that we had been put into on my previous tours, because I felt it was just a difficult thing, to go from these luxurious hotel rooms and play for people wearing blue jeans and shirts, and we’d go back in limousines to these hotels. Not that I have any objection to either ambience, but it was the mixture of the two that I thought somehow inhospitable. Anyhow, I was really hoping to be able to find a Chelsea or a Portobello in each city, but I found unfortunately that these hotels don’t exist. So we found ourselves being into hotels where there are no bathrooms with the rooms… You shouldn’t have to wait in line to take a bath. So I ask to be upgraded again. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Note: I guess you can push that “I find the simple life voluptuous” too far, eh?

From Leonard Cohen Looks at Himself by Danny Fields. Soho Weekly News, Vol. 1, #9. Dec 5, 1974.Thanks to Jugurtha Harchaoui, who contributed this interview.

Leonard Cohen On Touring As A Bullfight, An Italian Wedding, A Motorcycle Gang …


2013 Australian Tour Opens Today

Note: This entry was originally posted Nov 13, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric. The references to the concert at Perth and the Australian Tour were contemporaneous when first published.

Today’s concert in Perth marks the beginning of Leonard Cohen’s last leg of what could well prove to be his final tour. To commemorate this occasion, I’ve collected some of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s thoughts on touring and concert performance.

A Cohen Concert Quotation Compendium

The Italian Wedding Tour:

[Touring is] like an Italian wedding. You kind of know the bride and maybe you’ve met the groom once or twice, but you’ve never met anyone else that’s there. And everyone gets too drunk and eats too much. The morning after you don’t remember much about the wedding. As far as I can see this is my last tour. But the will is frail and I may fall back and it might take 10 more tours to finally quit, or this might be it.1

The Leonard Cohen Bullfighting Tour Metaphor:

Tours are like bullfighting. They are a test of character every night.2

The DrHGuy Corollary To The Bullfighting Tour Metaphor:

And you think being on the other side of the cape is easy?

Leonard Cohen’s father, Nathan. confronts bull

More Bullfighting:

It’s that way for matadors and singers. There’s that life-and-death moment with the audience out there and you’re so exposed.3

The Concert As Boxing Ring Or Ouija Board:

Continue Reading →

  1. From Famous Last Words From Leonard Cohen by Paul Saltzman. Maclean’s: June, 1972 []
  2. Ladies and Gents, Leonard Cohen by Jack Hafferkamp. Rolling Stone: February 4, 1971 []
  3. Leonard Cohen Is A Poet Who Is Trying To Be Free by Marci McDonald, Toronto Daily Star, April 26, 1969. []

“You know what the greatest thing would be. It would be to play a concert in front of 50,000 middle-aged people.” Leonard Cohen On The Wisdom Of Older People (1970)

You know what the greatest thing would be. It would be to play a concert in front of 50,000 middle-aged people. God, that would be so great. If we could only get together. We could share things. God, these older people really do know what they’re talking about. They have wisdom. Young ideas could be mixed with them. Older people could add mature things. Oh yes, if we could get together. We must, you know, we really must. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen Talks To Roy Hollingworth by Roy Hollingworth (Melody Maker: Sept 5, 1970). Photo Credit: Peter Brosseau/Library and Archives Canada/PA-170174. Thanks to Rike, who contributed this article.