Leonard Cohen On His Mother’s Reaction To His Career Choice

From left: Adam Cohen, his mother Suzanne Elrod, his father Leonard Cohen & Leonard’s mother Masha Cohen – Montreal 1972 . Posted Feb 13, 2014 by Adam Cohen at Leonard Cohen Facebook page

Was your mother disappointed because you did not choose a proper profession [rather than singer-songwriter]?

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Disappointed? She was in despair and convinced I could not survive in the world out there.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Man Bleibt Ein Absoluter Anfaenger by Christoph Dallach and Marianne Wellershof. Der Spiegel: 10/1/2001 (40, 2001). Found & translated into English by Rike

“I was in it for the robes” Leonard Cohen (A Pretend Monk) – From His Foreword To Zen Confidential

Yeah, Poet-Singer-Songwriter-Icon Leonard Cohen also writes a witty foreword

From Zen Confidential: Confessions of a Wayward Monk by Shozan Jack Haubner:

By Way of a Foreword

This is the best account I have ever read of the education of a Zen monk in America.

I was ordained a long while ago. Shortly thereafter my teacher let me know that I was a “pretend monk.” That was true. I was in it for the robes.

Shozan Jack Haubner has trained for more than nine years with a teacher whom I love, on a mountain that I know. Difference is, he is the real deal. He stuck it out while (many years before he arrived) I escaped.

But now this punk of a monk, who should be tending to his own affairs, has decided to infect the real world with his tall tales, and worse, to let the cat out of the bag. And what a sly, dangerous, beautiful, foul-smelling, heartwarming beast it is. We can almost forgive him.

If you are interested in these matters, this is a book you will enjoy. If you want to go a little deeper, this is a book you will need.

—Jikan Leonard Cohen

Credit Due Department: Contributed by Dominique BOILE. Originally posted Jan 11, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I might sense a deep resentment to Mr Walter Yetnikoff, who has been playing Salieri to my Mozart these many years” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen’s introduction of Jennifer Warnes at her Famous Blue Raincoat LP Showcase, Park-Café, Munich, West Germany; April 15, 1987.

DrHGuy Note: Cohen’s label Columbia Records refused to release Various Positions in the US. Walter Yetnikoff, president of the company, called Leonard to his office in New York and said, “Look, Leonard; we know you’re great, but we don’t know if you’re any good.” Various Positions was subsequently picked up by the independent label Passport Records. The album was finally included in the catalog in 1990 when Columbia released the Cohen discography on compact disc.

The Mozart – Salieri relationship is summarized nicely by this excerpt from Mozart and Salieri Rivalry by Jessica Lorey (Clef Notes: February 18, 2014):

Mozart and Salieri were competitors within the music realm. Salieri worked as the Kapellmeister for Emperor Joseph II. Believing he was better qualified for the post, Mozart applied for the job following the emperor’s death. He was astounded when they turned him away. As to be expected, the two men’s paths crossed as they composed in similar mediums vying for public approval. Though Salieri admitted to close friends in confidence that he did not like his competitor or his work, he never wanted to make his sentiments known as to avoid attracting attention. Historians also note that Salieri grew bitter toward Mozart with age as his works continued to gain fame following his premature death. Despite these supposed negative reactions toward Mozart, did Salieri perhaps have a deeper respect for his rival’s talents? Following Mozart’s death, Franz Xaver Niemetschek quoted Salieri in his Mozart biography: “It is indeed sad, the loss of so great a genius; but well for us that he is dead. For had he lived longer, verily, the world would not have given us another bit of bread for our compositions!” Perhaps Salieri revered Mozart but feared his ability would soon drown out his contemporaries’ work in the public eye.

What seems a relatively harmless rivalry between Mozart and Salieri started what became a gruesome rumor that many people still believe today. Not long after Mozart’s death, people began to gossip that Salieri killed Mozart with poison due to jealousy. Historians now know that evidence proves that the great composer actually died at a young age as a result of acute rheumatic fever, an ailment he suffered multiple times throughout his life before it ultimately proved fatal. Despite the inaccuracy of the rumors, most people remember Salieri as Mozart’s enemy rather than associating him with his own work.

Leonard Cohen’s discontent with Columbia Records was also expressed in his comments about the CBS Building on New York’s 6th Avenue, aka Black Rock,

Q: What is [Leonard Cohen] like on a night on the town? Leonard Cohen: “People say I’m a hoot to be with”

The quotation is from No. I’ve Never Contemplated Suicide, Says Leonard Cohen by Peter Wilmoth. The Age: May 24, 1985i. Originally posted September 7, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Sean Dixon Files

This wondrously, ambiguously evocative photo is from the files of Sean Dixon. Please do not repost without permission of the photographer. Originally posted June 8, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Sean Dixon will be familiar to ongoing readers from her personal encounters with Leonard Cohen featured in these Cohencentric posts:

“I might burden my heart with a sense of bitterness toward that great, dark building on 6th Avenue, known to many as the Black Rock but which I prefer to call ‘the Tomb of the Unknown Record.'” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen’s introduction of Jennifer Warnes at her Famous Blue Raincoat LP Showcase, Park-Café, Munich, West Germany; April 15, 1987.

The CBS Building in New York City, located at 51 West 52nd Street at the corner of Sixth Avenue, is also known as Black Rock. The CBS Building was, of course,  the headquarters of CBS Corporation, including Columbia Records, which was Leonard Cohen’s record label (Columbia Records has since been purchased by Sony Entertainment).

Update: Mr Cohen also expressed his discontent with Walter Yetnikoff, President of Columbia Records.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Americasroof at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons

“‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.’ That’s the closest thing I could describe to a credo.” Leonard Cohen

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‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.’ That’s the closest thing I could describe to a credo. That idea is one of the foundations, one of the fundamental positions behind a lot of the songs.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Sincerely, L. Cohen by Brian Cullman (Details for Men, January, 1993). Photo by Ted McDonnell.