Leonard Cohen, On Being Asked “What do you think of Bob Dylan?” (1994)

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The premier songwriter of our generation. Still and always. He happens to be resting. He deserves a rest but have no fear, he will be back with much information and data about repose in the ’90s.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From “Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen” in Q Magazine, September 1994.

Note: Originally posted February 23, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen ranks himself a “minor poet” compared to King David, Homer, Dante, Hank Williams, Milton, Wordsworth, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman …

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I’ve always had the sense of, if you’re going to think of yourself in this game, or in this tradition, and you start getting a swelled head about it, or exactly where your place is, then you’ve really got to think about who you’re talking about. You’re not just talking about Randy Newman, who’s fine, you’re not just talking about Bob Dylan, who’s sublime, you’re talking about King David, you’re talking about Homer, you’re talking about Dante, you’re talking about Milton, you’re talking about Wordsworth, you’re talking about some spirits who are… we haven’t come up for descriptions for their contribution, for their embodiment of our highest possibility. So I don’t think it represents a particularly modest or virtuous assessment of one’s own work to think of oneself as a minor poet. It’s not bad, I’ve loved the minor poets, I mean Herrick, a poet like Herrick, who’s not considered one of the great ornaments of the tradition, but a small gem in the crown, and I really do feel that, I feel that you know, the enormous luck I’ve had in being able to make a living, and to never have had to have written one word that I didn’t want to write, to be able to have satisfied that dictum I set for myself, which was not to work for pay, but to be paid for my work, just to be able to satisfy those standards that I set for myself has been an enormous privilege. But I don’t fool myself, I know the game I’m in, and I know the tradition I’m in, I feel very privileged to have been accepted at whatever level, and when I wrote about Hank Williams “a hundred floors above me in the tower of song”, I’m not trying to present some kind of inverse modesty, I know where Hank Williams stands in the history of popular song. Your Cheating Heart, songs like that are sublime, in his own tradition, and I feel myself a very minor writer. You know, I’ve taken a certain territory, and I’ve occupied it, and I’ve tried to maintain it and administrate it with the very best of my capacities. And I will continue to administrate this tiny territory until I’m too weak to do it. But I understand where this territory is.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From the transcript of a BBC Radio 1 programme about Leonard Cohen, broadcast Sunday 7/8/94.

Note: Originally posted Oct 23, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Bob Dylan’s “I And I” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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Note: Originally posted April 2, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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.

Bob Dylan And Leonard Cohen Talk Shop

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One of the anecdotes in the standard catechism all good Leonard Cohen acolytes learn has to do with the contrast in the time required by Bob Dylan and Cohen to compose a song. The story appears in several Cohen interviews. The following iteration is from Leonard Cohen, Los Angeles 1992, a section of “Songwriters On Songwriting” by Paul Zollo:

That [“Hallelujah”] was a song that took me [Leonard Cohen] a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years.

Then I praise a song of his, “I and I,” and asked him how long it had taken and he said, “Fifteen minutes.” [Laughter]

Bob Dylan – I And I
From Infidels

Coming Attractions: More Dylan

St Dylan and the High Priest Of Pathos1 have been members of a mutual admiration society.  At least two more Bob Dylan songs have been listed among Cohen’s favorites and will be featured in upcoming Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox posts.

  1. Another nickname for Leonard Cohen; see Leonard Cohen, AKA … – The Nicknames []

Leonard Cohen on choosing musicians differently than Dylan: “Also, Dylan is a multimillionaire. I’ve got to make a living”

studioperFrom WZMF Interview With Leonard Cohen by John Houghton (Fallout: March 4-17 1975). Also see “The best concert Milwaukee has experienced” Fallout Covers 1975 Leonard Cohen Milwaukee Concert

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Dominique BOILE, who discovered and shared this otherwise unavailable interview.

Allen Ginsberg On Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen

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Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’squotedown2

Allen Ginsberg

 

Many articles refer to this quotation, but this excerpt from Songwriters On Songwriting by Paul Zollo has the advantage of offering context:

Like Dylan, Simon, and few others, Leonard Cohen has expanded the vocabulary of the popular song into the domain of poetry. And like both Simon and Dylan, Cohen will work and rework his songs until he achieves a kind of impossible perfection. He didn’t need Dylan’s influence, however, to inspire his poetic approach to songwriting. He’d already written much poetry and two highly acclaimed novels by the time Dylan emerged, leading the poet Allen Ginsberg to comment, “Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’s.”

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

Credit Due Department: Photo by Elsa Dorfman – Transferred from en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted April 29, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen differentiates his songwriting from Dylan’s

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Dylan wrote really long lines, and I want to write really short lines.

Leonard Cohen

The Wisdom Of Leonard Cohen by Kevin Perry. GQ: Jan 19, 2012

Note: Originally posted Aug 8, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric