“Like watching a game of chess” Nana Mouskouri Describes Conversation Between Leonard Cohen And Bob Dylan


Leonard came to see one of my concerts in Canada and after the show, he invited me over to his house for coffee… We became friends and in February 1974 we were hanging out together in LA. We’d been to one of those music business parties where everybody is smiling and glamorous. We left early because we were going to see Bob Dylan, who was playing in town.You should have seen Leonard and Bob together! Neither of them is what you would call a talker, so when they had a conversation it was like watching a game of chess. Everything happened very slowly and each word had so much meaning.

Read the entire article at My favourite photograph: Greek singer Nana Mouskouri by Danny Scott. Sunday Express: Sept 21, 2014.

Credit Due Department: Photo by SpreeTom – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

“It’s a very strange event” Leonard Cohen Attends 2008 Bob Dylan Concert

I went to his [Bob Dylan’s] concert. It was terrific. I’ve been to many Dylan concerts. This one, there was a walkway from the hotel to the auditorium, so you could enter into this private area, the people who had boxes. We were in one of those boxes. First of all, I’ve never been in a private box in an auditorium. That was fun. And a lot of members of the band came. But it was very loud. Fortunately, Raphael, our drummer, had earplugs, and he distributed them. Because our music is quite soft and that’s what we’ve been listening to for three or four months. As Sharon Robinson said, Bob Dylan has a secret code with his audience. If someone came from the moon and watched it they might wonder what was going on. In this particular case he had his back to one half of the audience and was playing the organ, beautifully I might say, and just running through the songs. Some were hard to recognize. But nobody cared. That’s not what they were there for and not what I was there for. Something else was going on, which was a celebration of some kind of genius that is so apparent and so clear and has touched people so deeply that all they need is some kind of symbolic unfolding of the event. It doesn’t have to be the songs. All it has to be is: remember that song and what it did to you. It’s a very strange event.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? by Brian D. Johnson (Maclean’s: June 12, 2008)

An Analysis Of Qualities Common To Musicians Who Win Literary Awards: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, & Chuck Berry

lc-db-bd1200When Bob Dylan became the first pop musician awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, I recalled that Leonard Cohen was the first pop musician to win the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature (2011) and Cohen and Chuck Berry were the inaugural recipients (in 2012) of the  PEN New England  Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.1

In his PEN Award acceptance speech, Leonard Cohen claimed he and Chuck Barry were chosen as the first recipients of the honor on “the basis of seniority.”  As I pointed out in a Feb 2012 post, I hesitate to disagree with this site’s icon of choice, but I am obligated to point out that he – and the many periodicals, broadcast stations, and online sites reporting on this event – have inexplicably overlooked two other rather obvious attributes common to him and the Father of Rock and Roll that were either coincidences on a cosmic scale or, one must assume, weighed in the judges’ decision to confer this honor upon them:

  1. Signature hats
  2. Bolo ties2

And, the naming of Bob Dylan as Nobel Laureate further supports this observation. Check out the composite photo atop this post: three literary award-winning musicians who are senior artists adorned with bolo ties and distinctive headgear.

How To Win A Major Literary Award As A Musician

So, for all you aspiring literary award winners, Cohencentric  offers these recommendations based on the Cohen-Dylan-Berry Criteria:

  1. Do not, advice from The Who notwithstanding, die before you get old.
  2. Wear a hat that fits your style.
  3. Drape a nifty bolo tie around your neck.
  4. Write exquisite song lyrics.

Credit Due Department: Leonard Cohen photo by Ashley Tanasiychuk. Chuck Berry photo by Masahiro Sumori – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia. Bob Dylan photo by Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz – Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia


  1. Wouldn’t you think that an organization of “poets, playwrights, essayists, editors, and novelists” could come up with a name for their prize that flows off the tongue more trippingly than “The PEN New England  Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award?” []
  2. See Up Close With Leonard Cohen And His Bolo Tie []

Leonard Cohen Clarifies His “Canadian Bob Dylan” Epithet & What Happened At That 1966 Party At Frank Scott’s House

Q: Back in the ’60s, there was talk of you being a Canadian Bob Dylan. Didn’t you make that analogy yourself at the time?

No. That got into the press. I’d never say that any more than I’d say I want to be the next William Yeats or the next Bliss Carman. You know how that arose? There was a party at Frank Scott’s house. I had a record of Bob Dylan, and I brought it to this party. There were all these poets, Layton, and Dudek and maybe Phyllis Webb. It was probably Bringing it All Back Home. It was one of his early records I said, fellas, listen to this. This guy’s a real poet. I put the record on, and it was greeted with yawns. They said, ‘That’s not a poet.’ I said, ‘No, I insist, let me play it again.’ They said, ‘Do you want to be that?’ That’s how it arose. But it’s not my syntax. Anyway, they didn’t like it. But I put it on a few more times, and by the end of evening they were dancing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

See Leonard Cohen Introduces Bob Dylan’s Music To Major Canadian Poets At 1966 Montreal Poetry Party

Q: You said that an audience brings a lot to someone like Bob Dylan. They bring a lot to you as well.

Yes they do. As I said in the concert, this is every musician’s dream, to stand in front of an audience and not have to prove your credentials, to come into that warmth. Of course, it creates other anxieties, because you really want to deliver. There’s a lot to live up to. But it is quite a rare thing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Both excerpts are from Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? by Brian D. Johnson (Maclean’s: June 12, 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 Introduces Bob Dylan’s Music To Major Canadian Poets At 1966 Montreal Poetry Party

dylanfIn 1966, Leonard Cohen introduced Bob Dylan’s music to a group of the preeminent Canadian poets, including F.R. Scott, A.J.M. Smith, Leonard’s friend Layton Irving, his McGill professor Louis Dudek, Al Purdy, and Ralph Gustafson.  The response was not encouraging – although a replay at 10 PM resulted in dancing. The following excerpt is from Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira B. Nadel (Random House of Canada: Oct 29, 2010)

diylanpatyfUpdate: Leonard Cohen Clarifies His “Canadian Bob Dylan” Epithet & That 1966 Party At Frank Scott’s House

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