“These times are very difficult to write in because the slogans are jamming the airwaves…It’s a kind of tyranny of posture.” Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen: Geneva - Oct 27, 2008

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These times are very difficult to write in because the slogans are really jamming the airwaves – it’s something that goes beyond what has been called political correctness. It’s a kind of tyranny of posture. Those ideas are swarming through the air like locusts. And it’s difficult for the writer to determine what he really thinks about thingsquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From ‘I’m blessed with a certain amnesia’ by Jian Ghomeshi (The Guardian: 9 July 2009). Photo by Rama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Leonard Cohen Displayed That Knife-edge Walk Between Melancholy And Hilarity” 1985 L.A. Concert Review

June 9, 1985 Leonard Cohen Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles Concert Review

Most of  the review of the June 9, 1985 Leonard Cohen Wiltern Theatre (Los Angeles) show by Ethlie Ann Vare in Billboard (June 29, 1985) appears to have been composed by the boilerplate phrases that one assumes is given to all reporters assigned to Cohen Concerts. For example, “Cohen is first and foremost a poet.”  Moreover, he uses “his usual self-depreciating tone” when speaking to the “reverential crowd.” And there is the appearance of the always popular “Cohen hasn’t toured America in [fill in the number – 10 in this case] years.” There are, however, some noteworthy sections.

Leonard Cohen On His Songs

The description Cohen gives his own songs, for example, doesn’t seem to be found elsewhere online and certainly seems worth memorializing. His songs, he told  the audience, are

The kind of songs you sing when you don’t feel like singing

Leonard Cohen On Leonard Cohen

While not recorded in this review, it was also at this concert that Cohen described himself as

... an old veteran of the rainbows, rambling on in his invisible trench.1

From the same source, ((Various Positions by Ira Nadel. University of Texas Press. 2007 edition)) we learn

Dressed in black and playing a black acoustic guitar, Cohen sang new compositions like “Dance Me to the End of Love,” and a rollicking “Diamonds in the Mine.” Afterwards, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Al Kooper visited him backstage to congratulate him.

Leonard Cohen On Guilt

The other quotation recorded by Ms Vare is thoughtful and poignant (it also appears elsewhere in slightly altered form):

Guilt has gotten a lot of bad press lately.  Guilt is the only way we know we’ve done something wrong.

This is a rephrasing of his introduction to “The Law” the previous night, June 8th, 1985, in San Francisco:

It’s [The Law is] about our current dismal catastrophe. It’s about the Age of post-guilt. Guilt has been given a very bad name. There are entire medical industries that are devoted to describing guilt as a disease. Actually it’s the only way that we know that we’ve done something wrong.2

At the December 4, 1988 Mannheim concert, he worded it

Yes, guilt is a very under-estimated emotion. It has a lot of bad press today, guilt has. Actually, it is the only way we know when we’re doing a wrong thing. 3

And Ethlie Ann Vare Scores

I’m also going to give the author credit for her rendering of Cohen as “the black-clad troubadour of the minor key” and her hyperbolic observation, “You can’t really sing along [with Cohen’s songs] (hell, he can’t really sing along) … .”

And A Final Word About Record Labels

The phrase “Cohen’s new Passport album” used in the review refers  to Various Positions, the album that Cohen’s label Columbia Records refused to release  in the US. (Yep, this is when Walter Yetnikoff, president of the company, called him 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.

Credit Due Department: The photo of the Wiltern Theatre was taken by Carol M. Highsmith, who has stipulated it part of public domain. It was found at Wikipedia.

Note: Originally posted Apr 19, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Various Positions by Ira Nadel. University of Texas Press. 2007 edition []
  2. Found at Leonard Cohen Prologues – The Law []
  3. Found at Leonard Cohen Prologues – The Law []

Leonard Cohen on Beautiful Losers “I tried to wrestle with all the deities…extant now – the idea of saintliness, purity, pop, McLuhanism, evil, the irrational – all the gods we set up for ourselves”

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When there’s a complete wipe-out, there’s a renewal. In that book [Beautiful Losers] I tried to wrestle with all the deities that are extant now – the idea of saintliness, purity, pop, McLuhanism, evil, the irrational – all the gods we set up for ourselves.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen quoted in “After the Wipe-Out, A Renewal” by Sandra Diwa, published in The Ubyssey (the student newspaper of the University of British Columbia), February 3, 1967.

Note: Originally posted Dec 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on Jennifer Warnes “Her voice is like the California weather, filled with sunlight. But there is an earthquake behind it.”

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Her voice is like the California weather, filled with sunlight. But there is an earthquake behind it. It is that tension that I think defines Jennifer’s remarkable gift.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira Nadel. (2007)

“[Love] is the most challenging activity that humans get into…” Leonard Cohen


Have the women in your life been a source of your strength or weakness?

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Good question. It’s not a level playing ground for either of us, for either the man or the woman. This is the most challenging activity that humans get into, which is love. You know, where we have the sense that we can’t live without love. That life has very little meaning without love. So we’re invited into this arena which is a very dangerous arena, where the possibilities of humiliation and failure are ample. So there’s no fixed lesson that one can learn, because the heart is always opening and closing, it’s always softening and hardening. We’re always experiencing joy or sadness. But there are lots of people who’ve closed down. And there are times in one’s life when one has to close down just to regroup.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From ‘I’m blessed with a certain amnesia’ by Jian Ghomeshi (The Guardian: 9 July 2009). Photo by Paul Zollo. Originally posted October 7, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric