Bob Dylan’s “I And I” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox


Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. … I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.

– Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Bob Dylan And Leonard Cohen Talk Shop


One of the anecdotes in the standard catechism all good Leonard Cohen acolytes learn has to do with the contrast in the time required by Bob Dylan and Cohen to compose a song. The story appears in several Cohen interviews. The following iteration is from Leonard Cohen, Los Angeles 1992, a section of “Songwriters On Songwriting” by Paul Zollo:

That [“Hallelujah”] was a song that took me [Leonard Cohen] a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years.

Then I praise a song of his, “I and I,” and asked him how long it had taken and he said, “Fifteen minutes.” [Laughter]

Bob Dylan – I And I
From Infidels

Bob Dylan Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Leonard Cohen-Bob Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Note: Originally posted April 2, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Allen Ginsberg On Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen


Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’squotedown2

Allen Ginsberg


Many articles refer to this quotation, but this excerpt from Songwriters On Songwriting by Paul Zollo has the advantage of offering context:

Like Dylan, Simon, and few others, Leonard Cohen has expanded the vocabulary of the popular song into the domain of poetry. And like both Simon and Dylan, Cohen will work and rework his songs until he achieves a kind of impossible perfection. He didn’t need Dylan’s influence, however, to inspire his poetic approach to songwriting. He’d already written much poetry and two highly acclaimed novels by the time Dylan emerged, leading the poet Allen Ginsberg to comment, “Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’s.”

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Credit Due Department: Photo by Elsa Dorfman – Transferred from en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted April 29, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen differentiates his songwriting from Bob Dylan’s

When Cohen moved to New York to become a singer in 1966, he told fellow songwriter Jackson Browne that although he loved Bob Dylan …

Dylan wrote really long lines, and I want to write really short lines.

Leonard Cohen

The Wisdom Of Leonard Cohen by Kevin Perry. GQ: Jan 19, 2012.

Leonard Cohen-Bob Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Originally posted Aug 8, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Neil Busch on Leonard Cohen

He has influenced all songwriters who wish their lyrics to stand alone as poetry. He’s less whimsical than Bob Dylan; his words strike a deeper chord on the gut strings of the soul.quotedown2


From Leonard Cohen by Pat Hartman (Games Artists Play With Themselves: Dec 24, 2008)

From 1994 to July 2004, Neil Busch served as a vocalist, bassist, and songwriter in …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

1992 Video: Leonard Cohen On His Atrocious Voice, Dylan, Ice-T, Songwriting, Love & Where’s The Beef


Cohen On Cohen: The 1992 Interview

Today, Cohencentric offers viewers a thoughtful, intriguing, and inexplicably obscure Leonard Cohen interview on video.

The somewhat  garbled Google translation of the  on-site description of the video follows:

07/09/2008 – Tomorrow enter the Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in Bruges, it’s 15 years since he last toured it.

You can revisit the interview that journalist Serge Simonart with Cohen in 1992. He had just moved into a new album: “The Future”. “I want to hear People that can not sing” says Cohen. The story of a life will be heard in one voice – that’s why he loves Leadbelly, Dylan and Ice T and he will not mind if his own voice Liberation “terrible”s ets. Cohen also tells how he deceived when Dylan asked him how long Cohen had worked on the song “Hallelujah”. It continues with the central myth of our time, the rhetoric of the extreme left and right, and about love.

Cohen On Cohen Highlights

Continue Reading →

Leonard Cohen, Forest Hills 1970 – “Nervous, Uncomfortable, Oppressive, Lifeless” & In A Tiff With Dylan


The 1970 Forest Hills Music Festival

Were there a SAT equivalent for music fans, it might include this sentence completion item:

Leonard Cohen’s performance at the 1970 ___________ Festival was unique for that Tour.

This is, of course, a trick question.  While all but the most knowledgeable Cohenites (or the most astute  test-takers) would immediately respond with the Canadian singer-songwriter’s epochal performance at The 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival, Leonard Cohen also appeared that year at a festival in Aux-en-Provence  (August 2, 1970) and, more pertinently to today’s post, on July 25, 1970 at the 10th Annual Forest Hills Music Festival. As we well see in forthcoming   posts, each of the three festival appearances that year was indeed unique. The distinctive elements of Forest Hills show were, alas, an overwhelmingly negative review and a run-in with Bob Dylan.

It’s worth noting that by 1970 the use of the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium (aka West Side Stadium)  as a pop music venue had a long, uneven history featuring acts ranging from one hit wonders to Dylan and The Rolling Stones.  In the summer of 1964 alone, Forest Hills hosted  Frank Sinatra (with Count Basie), Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, Chet Baker, and an English group called The Beatles.1

The 1970 Forest Hills Music Festival lineup featured some of the era’s most popular groups:

  • July 11: Sly & Family Stone with Rare Earth
  • July 17 & 18: Simon & Garfunkel
  • July 25: Leonard Cohen and The Army
  • August 1: Janis Joplin
  • August 8: Peter, Paul, & Mary
  • August 15: The Band
  • August 22: Fifth Dimension with Ramsey Lewis

Leonard Cohen & The Army At Forest Hills Music Festival, New York

poster-forest-hillsThe 1970 Tour was the Leonard Cohen’s first real tour.2 Keep in mind that in May, he and The Army3 had played venues such as the Olympia Theatre in Paris, Royal Albert Hall in London, and Circus Krone in Munich. He and the band were scheduled to return to Europe for the festivals at Aix-en-Provence (Aug 2, 1970) and the Isle Of Wight (August 31, 1970).

Performing in a tennis stadium in Forest Hills, New York, its history of hosting musical stars notwithstanding, was a dramatic shift in environment.

The 1970 Leonard Cohen show is described, albeit as viewed through psilocybin goggles, by an audience member in this excerpt from In the Center of the Fire by James Wasserman (Nicolas-Hays, Inc., May 24, 2012):

centeroffireThat’s the end of the good reviews.

Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen – Forest Park Frenemies

Yep, this is one of those few instances when the principles of the Dylan-Cohen Mutual Admiration Society were tested. The following excerpt from Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes (Grove Press: May 24, 2011):

dylanforhillsBackup singer Susan Musmanno’s recollection of the concert is congruent:

That [the Forest Hills show] was the only bad performance we ever gave, and I think part of the reason was that Dylan was in the house that night, and we were all nervous.4

 The Setlist

forhillsbkThe exact Set List Cohen played at Forest Hills is indefinite and unconfirmed, at least in its details.5

From a LeonardCohenForum post by victhpooh

On the inside flap [of a book in her hands at the concert] I have this written:

An Evening With Leonard Cohen
Emcee: Scott Muny (NYC DJ at the time)

Bird on a Wire
So Long Marianne
You Know Who I Am (new) maybe new poem
Marriage of Joan Of Arc
‘Loud Song’
Sisters of Mercy
Story of Isaac
Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
new song something and english6
and possibly The Stranger Song

From the author’s handwritten entries in Is This What You Wanted by Jim Devlin:

1. Bird On A Wire
2. Sing Another Song Boys
3. You Know Who I Am
4. Joan Of Arc
5? Tonight Will Be Fine
6. Sing Another Song Boys
7. Story Of Isaac
8. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
9. Suzanne
10? The Partisan
11? The Stranger Song – solo

Billboard Review Of Leonard Cohen Forest Hills Concert

On the other hand, Nancy Erlich’s review of Leonard Cohen’s Forest Hills performance published in the August 8, 1970 issue of Billboard  is a model of pristine certainty untainted by dubiety, ambivalence, or ambiguity. Cohen is, Ms Erlich informs us, a musical Svengali, ruthlessly using “his extraordinary command of language and other people’s emotions” to oppress, diminish, and emotionally deplete those who listen to his songs.

A scan of Erlich’s report follows (click on image to enlarge):

Now, one writer’s opinion of one Leonard Cohen concert that took place over 40 years ago  is unlikely to trigger a crisis of faith among those who count themselves friends of Leonard Cohen.  Still, especially for those of us who came of age as Cohen fans during the accolade-saturated worship service that was the 2008-2013 World Tour, it’s useful to be reminded that the launching of Leonard Cohen’s singing career did not consist simply of being introduced to the world by Judy Collins and then arising at 2 AM at the Isle of Wight for his coronation as a musical icon.


Credit Due Department:

The yellow poster image listing the various acts appearing in the 1970 Forest Hills Music Festival was found at Simon & Garfunkel ‘ Time it was…it was.’  The first poster image beneath the heading, “Leonard Cohen & The Army At Forest Hills Music Festival, New York” was found at LeonardCohenFiles. I have edited it for easier viewing. The 1970 Forest Hills Program brochure and the other posters were found on auction sites.

Note: Most of this content was originally posted May 24, 2011 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric. Some editing has been done and material added in the service of updating the piece.


  1. That history is interestingly presented at It’s All The Streets You Crossed Not So Long Ago. []
  2. Leonard Cohen performed a number of concerts prior to 1970. The 1970 tour, however, was the first sequence of concerts organized as a tour from a business perspective with Leonard Cohen, along with his own band and backup singers, promoted as a full-blown headline act rather than piggy-backing off of some other existing ticket-selling dynamic such as festivals such as Newport, York, and Mariposa. []
  3. The Army, the musical ensemble that backed Cohen, comprised the following individuals (Source: Is This What You Wanted by Jim Devlin): Bob Johnston (guitar, keyboards), Charlie Daniels (electric bass, guitar, fiddle), Ron Cornelius (lead guitar), Elkin ‘Bubba’ Fowler (bass, banjo), Corlynn Hanney (vocals), and Susan Musmanno  (vocals) []
  4. Susan Musmanno: Personal communication []
  5. This is hardly surprising. Heck, the dates of some Leonard Cohen concerts that took place in late 1970 are not known with certainty. []
  6. Update 07 November 2012: Thelma Blitz writes “I have a brief record of this concert in my journals. I noted Leonard played the hands. ( I also play the hands but not as well).   The only song where he  played the  hands on his first LP was ‘One of Us Cannot Be Wrong.’  Therefore I reason that was the song in the set list called ‘new song.’  The audience member did not recognize it.” []