“[My work] may not be always easy to understand, but it is easy to embrace…” Leonard Cohen on the Comprehension of His Songs

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Interviewer: “His work, I put to him [Leonard Cohen], is not always easy to understand.”

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No. Well, it may not be always easy to understand, but it is easy to embrace. It’s simple. ‘All at once the torches flare / The inner door flies open / One by one they enter there / In every style of passion.’ Every style of passion is in my work… It’s best just to think of these as little songs, not terribly complicated, not any more complicated than anyone’s experience. How could they be? It is the work of my heart.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Love Me, Love My Gun Barrel by Graham Lock. New Musical Express: February 23, 1980. Photo of Leonard Cohen performing in Amsterdam, 1980 by Pete Purnell.

A discussion of related issues can be found at Three Characteristics That Make A Song A Leonard Cohen Song: #3. Artistic Design – Introduction

Leonard Cohen Reading List: I Am That By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

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I used to read a lot at one time, but now I tend to study rather than read, so there are a few particular books that I am reading at a particular time. I think the last book I really studied was a book called I Am That. I can’t pronounce the last name of the author. It’s been around 15 or 20 years. Generally, I find a book and it engrosses for me a number of months or even years.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Excerpted from An Interview With Leonard Cohen by Rob O’Connor (Downtown, Feb 12, 1992). This article was contributed by Dominique BOILE. Originally posted Aug 6, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Reading List

The book referenced by Leonard Cohen, I Am That is a compilation of talks on Shiva Advaita (Nondualism) philosophy by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, a Hindu spiritual teacher who lived in Mumbai. I Am That is the latest entry to the Leonard Cohen Reading List, a compilation of books commended by the Canadian singer-songwriter.

“To speak casually about the subject is taking the name in vain. There’s a commandment against it.” Leonard Cohen


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[Relationships with God, with women, with the world] are appropriately addressed in one’s work. Otherwise, it’s just gossip, which is not a particularly exalted activity. A great deal of time and attention has gone into producing the language. To speak casually about the subject is taking the name in vain. There’s a commandment against it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Prince of Prurience and Loss by John Leland, GQ: Nov 2001.

Leonard Cohen Performs Lover, Lover, Lover, A Song Born Of Conflict – Paris 1976

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‘Lover, Lover, Lover’ was born over there; the whole world has its eyes riveted on this tragic and complex conflict. Then again, I am faithful to certain ideas, inevitably. I hope that those of which I am in favour will gain.1quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

These words by Leonard Cohen reference the 1973 Yom Kippur War. I posted this video and those lines after the Nov 13, 2015 Paris terror attacks – and now I find myself turning to them again after the 2017 atrocities in Manchester and London.

And may the spirit of this song
May it rise up pure and free
May it be a shield for you
A shield against the enemy

Leonard Cohen – Lover Lover Lover
Backup Singers: Laura Branigan & Cheryl Barnes
Le Grand Echiquier on French TV: May 27, 19762

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Jo Meul who alerted me to this superior version of Leonard Cohen singing Lover Lover Lover on French TV in 1976.

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  1. “I’m Just A Minor Poet” By Gilles Medioni. L’Express, France, October 4, 2001. Found at Leonard Cohen French Web Site. []
  2. Le Grand Echiquier was a live tribute program presented by Jacques Chancel and dedicated to Charles Aznavour, featuring Bird on The Wire, Lover Lover Lover, and Suzanne. Source: Diamonds in the Mine []

“We hypnotize ourselves into a condition of loneliness …” Leonard Cohen On Suffering As A Self-induced Sense Of Separation


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We go into this trance of loneliness. We hypnotize ourselves into a condition of loneliness. Loneliness is just a human idea. It’s just the result of our not being able to connect with the activity around us, to feel that we are different one from another, to feel there is an other. In other words, to go into the trance of subject and object, where you believe you are the subject at the center of the world and everything else is an object, the other person, the other object. You know, you’re here, and everybody else is over there. But there’s another point of view, which is the point of view of the absolute in which the subject and the object have an equal footing – and we are embraced, both subject and object, by this absolute. So, we go into a trance, we enter into a fiction, into a hypnosis where we believe we are separate from everything else. That produces suffering – the sense of separation. And religion is a technique or a device or the experience of others who have found a way to dissolve this fiction of separation from the creative activity all around us.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen’s Press Conference – Reykjavik, 1988. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on The Future: “The last thing we need is something else to bring us down. And I never meant to do that. I always meant to invigorate.”


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The Future would be pretty grim if I just nailed it up on the church door like Martin Luther. I mean it is a hot little track and you can dance to it. It’s gotta have that. The last thing we need is something else to bring us down. And I never meant to do that. I always meant to invigorate.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Rebirth of a Ladies’ Man By Brendan Kelly. The Financial Post: December 12, 1992.