Hear Classic 1988 Leonard Cohen Interview: How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns

Shure_mikrofon_55S-700This is an extraordinary interview that includes this quotation that I consider the touchstone of Leonard Cohen’s perspective:

That’s what it’s all about. It says that none of this – you’re not going to be able to work this thing out – you’re not going to be able to set – this realm does not admit to revolution – there’s no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say ‘Look, I don’t understand a fucking thing at all – Hallelujah! That’s the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.

The following description is from Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988 at the RTE site:

From the RTÉ archives: Kildare-born novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist and former RTÉ radio producer John MacKenna made two feature programmes in the RTÉ Radio Centre with Leonard Cohen in 1988, entitled ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’. Together, they offer a remarkable insight to Cohen’s life and work. Below, you can listen to them both in full. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Note: A transcript of this broadcast is available at Transcript: 1988 RTE (LeonardCohenFiles)

The first programme ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’ is entitled ‘Isaac to Joan of Arc’ in which Cohen discusses his interest in and attitude to heroic figures in history. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Programme 2 is entitled ‘If I Have Been Untrue’  and considers songs about people in the street. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post “Shure mikrofon 55S” by Holger.EllgaardOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Best Videos Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour: Joan Of Arc, Featuring Hattie Webb – Portland

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It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

Best 2012 Leonard Cohen Videos: Cohencentric.com features selections from the Best Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2012 Leonard Cohen World Tour.

Leonard Cohen – Joan Of Arc, Featuring Hattie Webb
Portland: Nov 11, 2012
Video by

3 Leonard Cohen Videos: Joan Of Arc, Passing Through & Bird On The Wire – Munich 1993

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The audience recording of the 1993 Leonard Cohen Munich Concert from which these videos were excerpted is not pristine. The camera is a bit shaky and not quite in focus. And the sound is imperfect. Nonetheless, the vitality of the performance and the enthusiasm of the audience is readily apparent. This is, in short, a Good Enough Video.1

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Circus Krone, Munich: May 28, 1993
Video from SighsNorth (aka Linda Sturgess)
YouTube Description: Leonard Cohen at Circus Krone, Munich, Germany – May 28, 1993. Bird On The Wire. “I have tried in my way to be free … ” Before singing, Leonard goes to the edge of the stage to receive a bouquet of flowers from an audience member. Lovely solos by band members Bob Metzer (guitar) and Paul Ostermayer (saxophone).

Leonard Cohen – Passing Through
Circus Krone, Munich: May 28, 1993
Video from SighsNorth (aka Linda Sturgess)
YouTube Description: Leonard Cohen at Circus Krone, Munich, Germany – May 28, 1993. Leonard and band come back on stage for a second encore – Passing Through. (A very enthusiastic audience – and there were 7 encores that night.) Solos by Paul Ostermayer – Saxophone; Bob Furgo – violin

Leonard Cohen – Joan of Arc
Circus Krone, Munich: May 28, 1993
Video from SighsNorth (aka Linda Sturgess)
YouTube Description: Leonard Cohen at Circus Krone, Munich, Germany – May 28, 1993. Leonard and Julie Christensen sing Joan Of Arc. Bob Furgo – violin

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  1. The Good Enough Video is a notion that I, of course, derived from Donald Winicott’s Good Enough Mother. Just as Winicott used Good Enough Mother to indicate “the ordinary and devoted mother who provides an adequate and good enough environment for the growth of the infant’s ego to be able to express its true self,” (Source: Psychological Dictionary) I employ Good Enough Video to describe videos that are less than immaculate but are of sufficient caliber to convey the quality of the performance to the viewer. []

“[Joan of Arc] had to meet and be embraced by her destiny” Leonard Cohen On Free Will #8

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I was thinking more of this sense of a destiny that human beings have and how they meet and marry their destiny…I don’t want to suggest in that song [Joan of Arc] that what she really wanted to be was a housewife. What I mean to say is that as lonely and as solitudinous as she was she had to meet and be embraced by her destiny…seen from the point of view of the woman’s movement she really does stand for something stunningly original and courageous.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns – Interview With Leonard Cohen Presented By John McKenna. RTE Ireland, May 9 & 12, 1988. Accessed 10 June 2015 at LeonardCohenFiles