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

Video: Leonard Cohen On Fedoras, Lawyers, Dylan, Antidepressants, Drinking Professionally, Smoking Heavily, Zen of Cognac, & The Difficulty of Singing Suzanne

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Leonard Cohen’s Only Interview Since Start Of 2008 Tour

Brian Johnson has posted the full transcript and partial video of his backstage interview with Leonard Cohen that took place June 4, 2008 at Hamilton Place, Hamilton, Ontario.1

I’ve included a couple of excerpts below to give the flavor of the piece:

Q: After 14 years off the road, what brought you back?

A: Well, one of the things was that pesky little financial situation, which totally wiped me out. So I’m very grateful that I had a way to make a living, because that was indicated in very powerful terms. It wasn’t the prime motivator. Thanks to the help of Robert Kory, who is unique among lawyers in that he deferred his fees until the situation was resolved, which is not just unusual but unheard of, I would say, for a lawyer in Los Angeles. So he was able to somehow right the shipwreck. As it turned out, I could have gotten by. But all the time, even when I was in the monastery at Mt. Baldy, there were times when I would ask myself, “Are you really never going to get up on a stage again?” It was always unresolved. It would arise. Not daily, not even monthly. But from time to time, I’d see my guitar. I was still writing songs. But the idea of performing was starting to recede further and further back. One of the reasons was that I was so wiped out physically by the end of my last tour because I was drinking heavily. I was drinking about three bottles of wine by the end of the tour.

Q: Three bottles a day?

A: Before every concert. I only drank professionally, I never drank after the concert. I would never drink after intermission. It was a long tour. It must have been 60 to 70 concerts.

Q: Why did you need to drink?

A: I was very nervous. And I liked drinking. And I found this wine, it was Château Latour. Now very expensive. It was even expensive then. It’s curious with wine. The wine experts talk about the flavour and the bouquet and whether it has legs and the tannins and the fruit and the symphonies of tastes. But nobody talks about the high. Bordeaux is a wine that vintners have worked on for about 1,000 years. Each wine has a very specific high, which is never mentioned. Château Latour, I don’t know how I stumbled on it, but it went with the music, and it went with the concert. I tried to drink it after the tour was over, and I could hardly get a glass down. It had no resonance whatsoever. It needed the adrenaline of the concert and the music and the atmosphere, the kind of desperate atmosphere of touring—desperate because I was drinking so much! I had a good time with it for a while, but it did wreck my health, and I put on about 25 pounds.

Q: What’s the song that presents the toughest challenge?

A: The tough one for me is Suzanne. My chop has not come back completely. I’m playing an acoustic electric guitar. It’s pitched right. It’s right for my voice. People have asked me what’s it like to sing Suzanne. It’s a question I don’t fully process, because I don’t have the sense that I’m just doing it again. It’s hard to sing it. It’s hard to enter it. Because it’s a serious song. I’m alone singing it. And it brought me. . . in my own curious magical universe it is a kind of doorway. So I have to be very careful with it. I can’t speak too much about it because I can’t put my finger on the reason, except to say it is a doorway, and I have to open it carefully. Otherwise, what is beyond that is not accessible to me.

Q: It’s not special because it’s about one particular woman?

A: It was never about a particular woman. For me it was more about the beginning of a different life for me. My life in Montreal, and my life wandering alone in those parts of Montreal that are now very beautifully done up and in those days, it was the waterfront. I used to wander around down there and I used to go to that church a lot.

The full transcript can be found at Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show?

Leonard Cohen Macleans Magazine Interview June 4, 2008

Credit Due Department: The graphic is composed of still shots from the interview’s video

Note: Originally posted Jun 13, 2008 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Update: Until 24 Feb 2009, this was the only live interview with Leonard Cohen done during the World Tour. Shortly after the Beacon Theater Concert in New York, Cohen granted interviews to several periodicals. []

1992 Video: Leonard Cohen On His Atrocious Voice, Dylan, Ice-T, Songwriting, Love & Where’s The Beef

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Cohen On Cohen: The 1992 Interview

Today, Cohencentric offers viewers a thoughtful, intriguing, and inexplicably obscure Leonard Cohen interview on video.

The somewhat  garbled Google translation of the  on-site description of the video follows:

07/09/2008 – Tomorrow enter the Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in Bruges, it’s 15 years since he last toured it.

You can revisit the interview that journalist Serge Simonart with Cohen in 1992. He had just moved into a new album: “The Future”. “I want to hear People that can not sing” says Cohen. The story of a life will be heard in one voice – that’s why he loves Leadbelly, Dylan and Ice T and he will not mind if his own voice Liberation “terrible”s ets. Cohen also tells how he deceived when Dylan asked him how long Cohen had worked on the song “Hallelujah”. It continues with the central myth of our time, the rhetoric of the extreme left and right, and about love.

Cohen On Cohen Highlights

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