“In the sweaty, passionate, filthy embrace [of sexual ecstasy], in all of its delicious and time-dissolving power, in the midst of that embrace there is no difference, no separation between the spiritual and the profane.” Leonard Cohen


Pico Iyer: ‘Dance Me To The End of Love’ implies the dissolving of time in the moment of sexual ecstasy. To what extent do you make a distinction between the sexual and the spiritual when it comes to absolute?

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In the sweaty, passionate, filthy embrace, in all of its delicious and time-dissolving power, in the midst of that embrace there is no difference, no separation between the spiritual and the profane. But it’s reached through the profane rather than through the spiritual, at least in my canon. That is the portal, that is the door into the whole affair. In that moment there is no separation, there is no spirit and flesh, there’s no conflict, there never was. It’s dissolved.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen:  Several Lifetimes Already by Pico Iyer (Shambhala Sun, September, 1998). Update: No longer online. Originally posted Nov 26, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Gary Snider Plays Leonard Cohen: Dance Me To The End Of Love

Gary Snider is a Canadian musician living in Denmark for the past 43 years. He writes

I have known Cohen’s music since I was a teenager but first turned my attention to learning his songs 14 months ago. Encouraged by my partner, I have studied and collected a repertoire of Cohen songs that I perform live. I sense that many people who come to my concerts have an emotional connection with his music that is connected to important events in their own lives. To my great surprise, most know little about Leonard, his song texts or what they are about. However they are interested to learn more and it feels right to recite excerpts of his texts and give some insight into the meaning and circumstances of his songs and his life. I have found both a meaningful interest and a ‘mission’.

More about Gary at his official website

Videos: All Six Songs From 1988 Leonard Cohen Live At Roskilde TV Broadcast

Dance Me To The End Of Love, Everybody Knows, First We Take Manhattan, Take This Waltz, Hallelujah,  Suzanne

On July 2, 1988, Leonard Cohen appeared  at the 1988 Roskilde Festival, held south of Roskilde, Denmark. Six of those songs were broadcast on TV2 Denmark. a1000kissesdeep (aka Tom Sakic to ongoing readers) has uploaded these to YouTube. Although all six suffer from color distortion, these videos are fascinating, not only because of the impressive performances by Leonard Cohen and his musicians but also due to the exuberant, banner-waving audience. Worthy of special note is Everybody Knows, which offers a precursor to one of Leonard Cohen’s signature moves during the 2008-2013 tours – kneeling beside John Bilezikjian on the oud  as he would later kneel beside Javier Mas to establish face to face contact as he sings and Mas plays.

1. Dance Me To The End Of Love
2. Everybody Knows
3. First We Take Manhattan
4. Take This Waltz
5. Hallelujah
6. Suzanne

Embedded below is  a representative performance, Take This Waltz.

Leonard Cohen – Take This Waltz
Roskilde: July 2, 1988

Note: Originally posted Aug 6, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On The Evolution Of “First We Take Manhattan”

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If the lyric [of First We Take Manhattan] was set to something more solemn or ponderous it would have bored me to death. If it didn’t have that kind of techno-pop counter-point the song would collapse. But these things aren’t done from a point of view of strategies. They just evolve. Like that song grew out of one called ‘In Old Berlin’, half of which went off to become ‘Dance Me To The End Of Love.’ And to get to where it is I had to go through five notebooks of maybe 50 verses, just slowly scratching away. I don’t have any strategies, even in my private life. Any I had collapsed years ago. It’s my music as much as any other music is.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

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

Also see Leonard Cohen Credits Jeff Fisher For Rescue Of “First We Take Manhattan”

Leonard Cohen “There has always been a religious side to my work. Most of my songs have confused God and woman.”

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There has always been a religious side to my work. Most of my songs have confused God and woman. In Dance Me To The End Of Love, I’m not trying to make it literal; I’m trying to make it sing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Work Finds A Place by Mary Campbell (AP – Kentucky New Era: June 29, 1985). Note: Originally posted Sep 13, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen Performs Dance Me To The End Of Love At 1985 Elixir Festival, Guéhenno

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Jo Meul has tracked down another (partial) Leonard Cohen performance at the 1985 Elixir Festival in Guéhenno. The minute or so of Dance Me To The End Of Love includes good views of Leonard and his band, including Anjani Thomas on keyboards and vocals. There is another 30 entertaining seconds of scenes devoted to the audience at the 1985 Elixir Festival, perhaps the most incongruous of settings for a Leonard Cohen show. For more about Leonard’s appearance at this festival, see Leonard Cohen At 1985 Elixir Festival, Guéhenno With Video Of “Passing Through” Performance.