Leonard Cohen on Mick Jagger in 1993 “He’s saying something that is heavy & beautiful, and he’s saying it beautifully”


Yes, it is true that a lot of people burn themselves out. A lot of people die, especially in rock and roll. But on the other hand, there are people who continue to perfect their art. Curiously enough — and this is probably a very unpopular example — I think the last album by Mick Jagger [Wandering Spirit], who is a figure who is not really taken seriously… That’s a guy who is somehow not considered to be at the cutting edge of his own spirit any longer. Somehow, he has dissolved into the celebrity that he so ferociously courted. But you know, I had occasion to look carefully at the lyrics of his last album [Wandering Spirit]. They’re really quite surprising. They’re pretty good. It’s been a long time since I’ve turned to Mick Jagger for spiritual information! I wanted to see what Mick Jagger was doing these days, ’cause all you hear of him is he shows up with a beautiful woman here or there, or he’s having marital problems, or he’s signing a $60 million contract. It seems not to have anything to do with what we’re interest in. But when I looked at that album, he says, ‘I’ve seen a whole lot of shit, I’ve seen more than most guys.’ He’s speaking the truth. He says, ‘I really have been on those mountains. I really have had dinner with those kings and princes and slept with those beautiful women. And now, from the point of view of this experience. I’m asking you: Is there nothing beyond the kisses? Is there anything better than fucking? I’d like to know because it isn’t very good.’ He’s saying something that is heavy and beautiful, and he’s saying it beautifully. And then … Nobody listening. You know it’s just like another little Mick Jagger record. And it’s cool. It’s OK. We don’t have to worry about the guy, either. We know he’s a billionaire, and we know he has these women. Putting all these things aside, which is difficult to do in a case like Mick Jagger, you see that this guy’s still on this trip at the age of 40 odd.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Maverick Spirit: Leonard Cohen by Jim O’Brien. B-Side Magazine: August/September 1993.

Also see Leonard Cohen On Mick Jagger & The Rolling Stones “The bread and wine of the pop groups” (1974)

Leonard Cohen Reading List: “Intercourse” By Andrea Dworkin


Interviewer: Andrea Dworkin said that many men try to reassert old positions of power through the sex-act.

Well whether that’s true or not, the whole range of arguments in that book is quite radical and complex and beautiful. It’s the first book [Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin] I’ve read by an author, masculine or feminine, that has a defiance of the situation, which is deeply subversive in the holy sense – it’s other-worldly. She says that this world is stained by human misconception, that men and women have wrong ideas – even if they are ten million years old and come from the mouth of god, they are still wrong! The position in that book is so defiant and passionate that she creates another reality and just might be able to manifest it. It’s from that kind of appetite, with the way things are that new worlds arise, so I have deep admiration for Andrea Dworkin.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Excerpted from Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

Leonard Cohen Reading List

The book referenced by Leonard Cohen, Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin, is the latest entry to the Leonard Cohen Reading List, a compilation of books commended by the Canadian singer-songwriter.


Author Andrea Dworkin
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Free Press
Publication date 1987
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 257
ISBN 0-684-83239-9
OCLC 37625851

For more Leonard Cohen comments on Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin, see Leonard Cohen Abed With Baggage – Milan 1989

Credit Due Department: Photo by Guido Harari.

Leonard Cohen on Elvis Presley


I was relieved that all the stuff we’d been feeling for so long found expression in Presley and in rock in general, I was playing his records all the time to friends when they’d come over. I’d say, ‘This guy is a great singer’ – and they thought this was some kind of inverse snobbery. But it wasn’t. Presley had that special kind of voice which makes your heart go out to a singer.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

More posts about Leonard Cohen & Elvis Presley can be found at Elvis Presley @ Cohencentric

Credit Due Department: Photo of Elvis Presley “Elvis Presley 1970” taken by Ollie Atkins, chief White House photographer, when President Nixon & Elvis Presley met.

Leonard Cohen On Conveying Irony In Songs Vs In Poems

Interviewer: It strikes me that there’s sometimes more irony in your songs than in your poems. I’m thinking of lines like ‘He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.’ The inflections in your singing voice convey a variety of different attitudes, and in some instances an attitude like irony comes through more clearly in the songs.

Yeah, I see what you mean. I think of Bob Dylan, who gets the inflections of street talk, the inflections of conversation, and does that with such mastery … where you can hear a little tough guy talking. You can hear somebody praying. You can hear somebody asking. You can hear somebody coming onto you. When you’re composing that material and you know that it’s going to occupy aural space, you can compose it with those inflections in mind. And of course it does invite irony because that irony can be conveyed with the voice alone whereas on the page you generally have to have a larger construction around the irony for it to come through. You can’t just write, ‘What’s it to ya? ‘ If you sing, ‘What’s it to ya?’ to some nice chords it really does sound like, ‘Well, what’s it to yah, baby?’ But,  just to see it written, it would need a location. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen as interviewed by Robert Sward. Montreal: 1984. Found at LeonardCohenFiles

Leonard Cohen On The Beatles: “There were songs like ‘Hey Jude’ that I could appreciate. But they didn’t seem to be essential to the kind of nourishment that I craved.”

I’m interested in things that contribute to my survival. I had girlfriends who really irritated me by their devotion to the Beatles. I didn’t begrudge them their interest, and there were songs like ‘Hey Jude’ that I could appreciate. But they didn’t seem to be essential to the kind of nourishment that I craved.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016)

Compare with Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About The Beatles – 1967

“It’s a very strange event” Leonard Cohen Attends 2008 Bob Dylan Concert

I went to his [Bob Dylan’s] concert. It was terrific. I’ve been to many Dylan concerts. This one, there was a walkway from the hotel to the auditorium, so you could enter into this private area, the people who had boxes. We were in one of those boxes. First of all, I’ve never been in a private box in an auditorium. That was fun. And a lot of members of the band came. But it was very loud. Fortunately, Raphael, our drummer, had earplugs, and he distributed them. Because our music is quite soft and that’s what we’ve been listening to for three or four months. As Sharon Robinson said, Bob Dylan has a secret code with his audience. If someone came from the moon and watched it they might wonder what was going on. In this particular case he had his back to one half of the audience and was playing the organ, beautifully I might say, and just running through the songs. Some were hard to recognize. But nobody cared. That’s not what they were there for and not what I was there for. Something else was going on, which was a celebration of some kind of genius that is so apparent and so clear and has touched people so deeply that all they need is some kind of symbolic unfolding of the event. It doesn’t have to be the songs. All it has to be is: remember that song and what it did to you. It’s a very strange event.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? by Brian D. Johnson (Maclean’s: June 12, 2008)