Must-Read New Yorker Profile Of Leonard Cohen By David Remnick

newykrrr David Remnick’s profile of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker, in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New Yorker, provides a succinct history-by-anecdote of the Canadian singer-songwriter, a consideration of his impending album, You Want It Darker, an intriguing section devoted to Bob Dylan’s take on Cohen, and an insight-laden perspective on the 82 year old musical icon. These excerpts offer a sense of the quality of the piece; the entire article is available at the link.

“For some odd reason,” he [Leonard Cohen] went on, “I have all my marbles, so far. I have many resources, some cultivated on a personal level, but circumstantial, too: my daughter and her children live downstairs, and my son lives two blocks down the street. So I am extremely blessed. I have an assistant who is devoted and skillful. I have a friend like Bob [Robert Faggen] and another friend or two who make my life very rich. So in a certain sense I’ve never had it better. . . . At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.”

“When people talk about Leonard, they fail to mention his melodies, which to me, along with his lyrics, are his greatest genius,” Dylan said. “Even the counterpoint lines—they give a celestial character and melodic lift to every one of his songs. As far as I know, no one else comes close to this in modern music. Even the simplest song, like ‘The Law,’ which is structured on two fundamental chords, has counterpoint lines that are essential, and anybody who even thinks about doing this song and loves the lyrics would have to build around the counterpoint lines.

When I asked him if he intended his performances to reflect a kind of devotion, he hesitated before he answered. “Does artistic dedication begin to touch on religious devotion?” he said. “I start with artistic dedication. I know that if the spirit is on you it will touch on to the other human receptors. But I dare not begin from the other side. It’s like pronouncing the holy name—you don’t do it. But if you are lucky, and you are graced, and the audience is in a particular salutary condition, then these deeper responses will be produced.”

All available information about You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen is collected and updated at Info & Updates: Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker

Leonard Cohen On Bob Dylan: “He put the word back into the jukebox, which is really where you have to have it, or at least where I like to have it.”

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Cited in Michael Ondaatje, Leonard Cohen (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970). Found in Introduction to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen – Rock Poets by David Boucher (New York: Bloomsbury Academic,April 1, 2004)

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

“We were dying to be Dylan / to be beggers worth a million / to be nowhere & suddenly arrive” – Leonard Cohen Lyrics (Unused)

cylanclosingWe were dying to be Dylan
to be beggers worth a million
to be nowhere & suddenly arrive

From “Closing Time” — Indepth Study Page Four

I suspect these unused lines from an early draft of “Closing Time” by Leonard Cohen refer to a specific Dylan song and, in fact, can coerce a handful of his tunes into fitting but doing so requires Procrustean tactics. I am hopeful a Dylanologist can identify the allusion’s reference (if one exits).

Note: Originally posted July 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Lauds Bob Dylan’s “lines that have the feel of unhewn stone”

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At a certain point, when the Jews were first commanded to raise an altar, the commandment was on unhewn stone. Apparently, the god that wanted that particular altar didn’t want slick, didn’t want smooth. He wanted an unhewn stone placed on another unhewn stone. Maybe you then go looking for stones that fit … Now I think that Dylan has lines, hundreds of great lines, that have the feel of unhewn stone. But they really fit in there. But they’re not smoothed out. It’s inspired but not polished. That is not to say he doesn’t have lyrics of great polish. That kind of genius can manifest all the forms and all the styles.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon and more on Bob Dylan by Paul Zello (American Songwriter: Feb 14, 2012)

Note: Originally posted December 30, 2014at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Bob Dylan’s “Brownsville Girl” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. … I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.

– Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Another Bob Dylan Hit On Leonard Cohen’s Playlist

knockout_lDylan’s “Brownsville Girl,” #3 on Leonard Cohen’s Top Ten Songs of 1988,1 joins “I And I” and “Tangled Up In Blue” on the list of songs specifically praised by Cohen.

Released in 1986 as a track on Bob Dylan’s “Knocked Out Loaded” album, “Brownsville Girl” (originally named “New Danville Girl”) was co-written by playwright Sam Shepard. Dylan performed it only once in concert, on August 6, 1986.2

Bob Dylan – Brownsville Girl

Note: Originally posted June 27, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
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  1. From Leonard Cohen – In Eigenen Worten (in his own words) by Jim Devlin, a listing found by Florian at LeonardCohenForum []
  2. Wikipedia []