“I always associated song and singing with some sort of nobility of spirit.” Leonard Cohen

Quotation from Transcript of Pacifica Interview with Kathleen Kendall. WBAI Radio, New York City: December 4, 1974. Photo by Pete Purnell (Leonard Cohen In Concert 1974 To 1993: Photos By Pete Purnell). Originally posted Dec 23, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Invokes Irving Layton’s Dictum: “Whatever else, poetry is freedom”


Q: What is your opinion on the proposition that ‘the visions of poets may teach those who do not want to know it that there is more in shadow than in light?’

I don’t think the poet has a mission. I think that activity more appropriately applies to the priest, the teacher, the politician, and the warrior. As my friend Layton wrote: ‘Whatever else, poetry is freedom.’ It seems a very aggressive proposition to teach someone something they don’t want to learn.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From a 2001 online chat. Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted March 20, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Reveals “Biggest Influence On My Music”


Biggest Influence on My Music: The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. There was “The Great Pretender,” “Cross Over the Road.” 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.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From  Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen1 (1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

This quotation parallels the following excerpt from a March 2 1985  Leonard Cohen interview with B.P. Fallon (RTE 2, Dublin, Ireland):

Leonard Cohen: It was a great restaurant. I am sorry it disappeared. It was, it was a real funky restaurant, but it had white tablecloths; I don’t know why. (Laughs) And a really good jukebox. Well, it changed over the years. They had good country songs on it, … “Unchained Melody” was a song that I used to listen to a lot on that.

B. P. Fallon: Which version?

Leonard Cohen:

B. P. Fallon: The Righteous Brothers?

Leonard Cohen: The Righteous Brothers, right.

B. P. Fallon: Interesting, here it is.

Leonard Cohen: Oh, that’s a good one.

These comment by Leonard Cohen led to the publication, beginning April 4, 2009, of , first on 1HeckOfAGuy.com and now continuing on Cohencentric. Currently, this series comprises 58 posts, each featuring a song that has won Leonard Cohen’s admiration and this introduction:  All Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox posts can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Note: Originally posted Apr 19, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Full title: “Yakety-Yak : The Midnight Confessions and Revelation of Thirty-Seven Rock Stars and Legends” published by Fireside. The Leonard Cohen section also includes many other quote-worthy tidbits, including “What to Tell a Woman after Sex:  Thank you. []

Video: Leonard Cohen On His Art “I’ve tried to design the work so that it can last beyond that immediate perception of it”


I mean, that instant response is gratifying, of course, but also you have the risk of the other thing going on all the time, which is instant humiliation. But you know, in some way, I’ve tried to design the work so that it can last beyond that immediate perception of it…If a song lasts for a few years or if a book keeps on turning up, people are still interested in it, or if I myself can pick it up and not be totally embarrassed by it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From 1980 CBC interview

Leonard Cohen On His Embracement Of Poetry & His Shift To Pop Music

I was completely hooked on the stuff [poetry] as a kid. I loved it when I first came across it. When something was said in a certain kind of way it seemed to embrace the cosmos. It’s not just my heart, but every heart was involved, and the loneliness was dissolved, and you felt that you were this aching creature in the midst of an aching cosmos, and the ache was okay. Not only was it okay, but it was the way that you embraced the sun and the moon. I went into pop music. I felt like that’s where I could manifest it. Just on the page wasn’t going to do it for me because I wanted to live it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Jewish Book News Interview With Leonard Cohen by Arthur Kurzweil and Pamela Roth: 1994. Originally posted July 26, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I’m not interested in posterity, which is a paltry form of eternity. I want to see the headlines… I’m not interested in an insurance plan for my work.” Leonard Cohen 1966

Leonard Cohen Considers the Poetic Mind. CBC Interview. 1966. Originally posted July 16, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric