Leonard Cohen Alludes To Dylan Song In “Democracy”

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There is a line in Democracy that referred specifically to the Dylan song ‘Everybody is Broken.’ The line is ‘The singer says it’s broken and the painter says it’s gray.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Paul Zollo, Songwriters on Songwriting, Da Capo Press, 2003.

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, & Leonard Cohen

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[Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan have] known each other for a long time, and I know there’s a lot of respect for each other. Jennifer Warnes told me a story once that there was a BMI [Broadcast Music, Inc] dinner once, they were honouring Bob Dylan. And Leonard was there and Jennifer was there. And at one point, Bob Dylan took Elizabeth Taylor by the hand and said, ‘Come, let me introduce you to a real poet…’quotedown2

Roscoe Beck

 

Leonard Cohen: Behind The Scenes, Part 6! by Michael Bonner (Uncut: November 19, 2008)

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Leonard Cohen is Artist X; Bob Dylan is Artist Y

cdiThe latest entry in the Leonard Cohen is Artist X; Bob Dylan is Artist Y was published yesterday:

Were Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen the Mozart and Beethoven of 20th-Century Folk Rock? By Sara Schabas (Musical Toronto: February 22, 2017

Before that was

Leonard Cohen is John Donne to Bob Dylan’s Shakespeare by Edward Docx (The Guardian: Nov 19, 2016)

And Leonard himself put it this way:

“Dylan’s achievement is so monumental. He was the Picasso. I’m the Matisse. I love Matisse, but I’m in awe of Picasso.” Leonard Cohen1

And, just to mix things up, let’s change Bob Dylan to Phil Collins:

In 1995 Cohen’s manager, Kelley Lynch, put together Tower of Song, a set of his compositions sung by bigger stars including Sting and Bono. She asked Phil Collins, who turned her down.

Cohen himself sent Collins a fax, saying: “Would Beethoven refuse the invitation of Mozart?” Collins faxed back: “No, unless Beethoven was on a world tour at the time.”

Cohen understood: “It’s kind of a pain in the ass, to think about somebody else’s dismal songs when you’re not even in the studio.”2

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

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  1. From “Cohen’s Future Is Now” by Jim Slotek: Toronto Sun, November 19, 1992 []
  2. From  Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen’s head? by Tim de Lisle (The Guardian, 17 September 2004) []

Leonard Cohen Interprets Bob Dylan’s Comparison: “As far as I’m concerned, Leonard, you’re Number 1. I’m Number Zero.”

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After a while, he [Bob Dylan] told Cohen that a famous songwriter of the day had told him, “O.K., Bob, you’re Number 1, but I’m Number 2.”

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Then Dylan says to me, ‘As far as I’m concerned, Leonard, you’re Number 1. I’m Number Zero.’ Meaning, as I understood it at the time—and I was not ready to dispute it—that his work was beyond measure and my work was pretty good.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

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

Bob Dylan & Alan Ginsberg Sing Back-Up On Leonard Cohen’s Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On

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When Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan showed up during the recording of Death Of A Ladies’ Man in 1977, Phil Spector ordered them to sing background vocals on “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-on.” They complied, and the resulting version of the song became a track on the album.

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

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.

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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