“The only time we win is that moment when we drop the battle and we affirm the whole situation with this embrace” Leonard Cohen Talks About Hallelujah & Bernadette


[John McKenna:] Song of Bernadette works on several levels. There the young visionary of February and March 1858 with that apparition in her soul. A vision no-one believed. And, there are the rest of us with our own visions and dreams, which no-one, least of all ourselves, can believe in. Once we realise that visions don’t last – they disappear – and we end up running and falling, rather than flying. There’s Bernadette, true to her belief and finally rewarded with the knowledge that there is mercy in the world. There’s Leonard Cohen, acknowledging that each of us is torn by what we’ve done and can’t undo.

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I think that we mostly do fail in these things, but the thing that makes these failures supportable are these moments like the one I tried to talk about in Hallelujah or the one I tried to talk about in Bernadette it’s those are the moments when the thing is resolved – the thing is reconciled – not actually by moving pieces around it’s not a chess game. As I say in my new version of Hallelujah, ‘I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch, but love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.’ Nobody’s going to win this, not the men not the women not the socialists, not the conservatives. Nobody’s going to win this deal. The only time we win is that moment when we drop the battle and we affirm the whole situation with this embrace.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns – Interview With Leonard Cohen Presented By John McKenna. RTE Ireland, May 9 & 12, 1988. Retrieved from LeonardCohenFiles. Originally posted November 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Highly Recommended: Liel Leibovitz On The Jewish Poetry Of Leonard Cohen

Hear, Download Podcast

Liel Leibovitz, author of A Broken Hallelujah: The Life of Leonard Cohen, talks about Leonard’s Jewish and family background, the biblical tradition that informs Story Of Isaac, Leonard’s perspective on and relationship with God, the significance of Hallelujah, and more. Highly recommended.

The June 23, 2018 Tikvah podcast can be heard and downloaded at Liel Leibovitz on the Jewish Poetry of Leonard Cohen

Also see Q&A With Liel Leibovitz, Author Of A Broken Hallelujah. All posts featuring Liel Leibovitz are collected at

Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About Lines Written Under “The Tyranny Of Rhyme,” Politics, Love As An Ailment, Anjani, Recycling His Art & More – 2006

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This Feb. 7, 2006 interview offers an impressive range and depth of material (albeit organized in a somewhat random manner).

From CBC description:

Leonard Cohen has reasons to celebrate. Five of his songs are being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. As heard in this in-depth radio interview, the usually reserved artist reflects back on his life. He talks openly about his days at a Buddhist monastery, his love of wine, his failure at love and what this latest honour means for the 71-year-old artist.

The five songs by Leonard Cohen inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 were

  • Ain’t No Cure For Love
  • Bird on the Wire
  • Everybody Knows (co-written with Sharon Robinson)
  • Suzanne
  • Hallelujah

Program: Sounds Like Canada
Broadcast Date: Feb. 7, 2006
Guest: Leonard Cohen
Host: Shelagh Rogers
Duration: 21:02

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

Video: Leonard Cohen’s 1988 Icelandic Hallelujah – Most Moving Performance Ever?

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In Video: Leonard Cohen’s Gorgeous Performance Of Hallelujah – Reykjavik 1988, I wrote

For a fleeting moment in 2009, YouTube blessed us with a live video of Leonard Cohen performing Hallelujah at the June 24, 1988 Laugardalshöll, Reykjavik, Iceland concert. It was a particularly lovely version that impressed many viewers, inducing me. As we have experienced many times, however, YouTube giveth, and YouTube taketh away. All traces of Leonard Cohen’s 1988 Icelandic concert, including the performance of Hallelujah, have disappeared from YouTube and similar sites.

I have serendipitously come across another YouTube posting of the same video, albeit of lesser quality. Although it’s described on YouTube as having taken place in 1985, this appears to be a segment from the June 24, 1988 concert in Reykjavik, Iceland, which was used in a program broadcast on Icelandic TV. Included are bits of an interview, an Icelandic cover of “Hallelujah,” and, most importantly, a version of “Hallelujah”  sung by Cohen (with backup singers Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen) that is not only distinct from every other rendition of that song I’ve heard before but perhaps the most moving performance of  “Hallelujah” by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Make no mistake – the color is distorted, the editing clumsy, and the subtitles distracting, and we don’t get our first vision of Leonard singing until just past the 2 minute mark, but the live scenes of Leonard Cohen and backup singers, Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen, performing are overwhelmingly moving. (For the record, I believe my own version of this performance at Video: Leonard Cohen’s Gorgeous Performance Of Hallelujah – Reykjavik 1988 has its own merits and urge you to take a look if you haven’t seen it before.)

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Reykjavik: June 24, 1988

Note: Originally posted Dec 18, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric