Now In English: Alberto Manzano: “Leonard Cohen era un hombre muy sencillo” [“Leonard Cohen was a very simple man”]


Leonard Cohen with book by Alberto Manzano about Leonard Cohen

Farewell To The Poet Of The Songs

Transcription and translation by Helen Ketcham of an interview between Alberto Manzano (AM), translator and friend of Leonard Cohen, and Carles Francino (CF), host of the Spanish radio program “La Ventana” (“The Window”) on the Cadena Ser network, recorded November 11, 2016. The interview is hosted at: Alberto Manzano: “Leonard Cohen era un hombre muy sencillo”


CF: We’ve invited someone very special to come over to “The Window,” someone with whom we remember having the occasion not long ago, a couple of years or maybe a little more, to share here, and enjoy the music of Leonard Cohen, because he knows it, and he knows it from very close up. Alberto Manzano is an author, poet and translator, and he was a long-time friend of Cohen . Since 1980, to be exact. He has been at his house on the Greek island of Hydra, and in Los Angeles. He has accompanied him on several European tours. He is the translator of most of his literary and discographic work. He has quite a number of books. Worth noting among them are the biography of Leonard Cohen, or the essay “Leonard Cohen, Lorca, Flamenco and the Wandering Jew.” I imagine it must be, well, a very special day for him, and I thank him for spending a little time at “The Window.” Alberto Manzano. Good afternoon, how are you, Alberto?

AM: Good afternoon.

CF: How are you, Alberto? When did you find out about Leonard’s death?

AM: At three in the morning. A friend had phoned me.

CF: Well, he already… at the release of his last record three weeks ago, the gestures and the messages he was sending, well, they had a very… twilight tone, but well, although one could more or less see this coming, one is… well, you look shattered.

AM: Yes, I’m really broken up. My heart is going wildly in every direction right now.

CF: When and how did you meet Leonard Cohen?

AM: You see, I met him in Barcelona on the occasion of the release of the Recent Songs record. He was staying at the Hotel Colon, there across from the Cathedral of Barcelona. And I go into the hotel and I put a load of books into his hands that I had done already, some illegal artisanal books that I had self-published and was selling on the street, on Las Ramblas, outside concerts, illegal books. I was leaving them on consignment at some bookstores, Sindorus, at Documenta, and with that whole load I had already had a couple of official books published, at Visor, the poetry collection, I translated The Spice-Box of Earth, and at Fundamentos, I started the collection, the series of songs with the first volume dedicated to songs of Leonard Cohen. So I put all that load I was carrying in his hands and, well, after that he invited me to eat, then we went to the sound check at the Palacio de los Deportes. The next day I got on the tour bus heading for Toulouse to the next concert, and the month after that I was already on Hydra, spending the Christmas vacations with his children.

CF: What was this man like, how was he close up, the one we know–?

Continue Reading →

X Is The Leonard Cohen Of Y: #64. The Leonard Cohen Of Meat Dishes: Duck On A String aka Bird On A Wire

The Leonard Cohen of meat dishes Duck on a string aka bird on a wire. tonight

A post shared by Thane Prince (@thaneeprince) on


“The Leonard Cohen of meat dishes Duck on a string aka bird on a wire” from thaneeprince via Instagram is the latest addition, #64, to The Leonard Cohen Of list.

Leonard Cohen As Metaphor: Leonard Cohen has long been a boon to music critics, reporters, PR departments, bloggers, and authors as a metaphorical vehicle, not only to connote a particular musical capacity but also to describe other professional abilities and special qualities – both human and nonhuman. Cohencentric’s collection of these “X Is The Leonard Cohen Of Y” offerings can be found at The Leonard Cohen Of page.

Leonard Cohen Returns Lou Pomanti’s Forgotten Brisket


Lou Pomanti

“Leonard Cohen? Is that the tailor that’s just down there?”

Excerpted from “Lisa McDonald’s One-On-One with Lou Pomanti – Part 2” By Lisa McDonald (posted January 14, 2010 at Lou Pomanti Music):

Note: Another source dates this episode in 2006. In this excerpt, the interviewer’s words are in boldface; Lou Pomanti’s response are in light typeface.

And what about the Prime Minister, being a woman, was she really taken with Leonard?

Yes. Everyone was rapt. There was another night after a gig where Leonard said, “Let’s go back to my house.” Cohen had bought three row houses in the early 70s when they were giving Montreal real estate away. He rents one out, lives in one and donated the other to a group of Buddhist monks. When we got to his place, ya know, it’s nothing special; just a townhouse in an ethnic area somewhere around St Laurent or Portugal Square, I think. Me, Leonard and our bass player Scott end up sitting around Leonard’s kitchen table, which is a 60s Formica-like table directly beside a forty year old stove. We’re sitting there drinking red wine when Leonard starts telling a story from his childhood. Growing up in Montreal, his father worked in the ship yards and Leonard would go down to the yard and watch his father. Suddenly Leonard says, (laughs), “Let’s get some smoked meat sandwiches”. Now you have to understand, Leonard’s a Buddhist monk. He’s drinking red wine and now he wants a smoked meat sandwich! I said, “You tell me where to go Leonard, and I’ll get them.” He tells me, “go to this place, ask for Peter and tell him Leonard Cohen sent you”. On the way over I’m thinking, I’m gonna get myself a whole brisket!

I think I know the deli you’re speaking of, but the name escapes me.

It’s not Moisha’s, it’s the other one. So I go in the deli and say, “Hi Peter, my name’s Lou. I need a brisket and 10 sandwiches. And uh, Leonard Cohen sent me.”

You must’ve felt silly saying that!

Peter says, “Leonard Cohen? Leonard Cohen? (long pause) Is that the tailor that’s just down there?” I’m like, “no no no, Leonard Cohen the songwriter!” And Peter said, “oh, I’m sorry but there are many Leonard Cohen’s in this neighbourhood.” Peter didn’t even know him! (much laughter)

Oh my god, that’s funny!

I got the sandwiches and a whole brisket for myself, right. And when I get back to the house, I say to Leonard, “Put this brisket in your fridge and when I leave in an hour, don’t let me forget it.” But when I left, I forgot it.

Of course.

Realizing this, I call Leonard from the back of a cab. Leonard answers and says, “You forgot your brisket.” I said, “I have to leave at 8 in the morning to catch a train”. He tells me, “Come by before you leave. I get up early, so it’ll be fine.” At eight the next morning, I leave my hotel telling the cab driver we have to make a stop on the way to the station. The cab pulls up Leonard’s street, and there… at eight in the morning is Leonard Cohen. Leonard Cohen standing in the street, outside his house… dressed in a suit with a fedora on his head! He was standing there waiting, dressed like that at 8 in the morning… holding my brisket!! (much laughter!)

What a great story!

You’ll never see Leonard Cohen in anything but a suit.

Lou Pomanti: Among Lou Pomanti’s many musical credits is his service as pianist for the “Leonard Cohen introduces Anjani” Blue Alert performances.

Credit Due Department: Linda Sturgess discovered and shared this delicious anecdote. Photo from Lou Pomanti website press kit.

Note: Originally posted May 13, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Neema Talks About How She Met Leonard Cohen & His influence On Her New Album

ngold“I feel I’m getting it a little bit more. I feel more at ease with my own intuition and that’s something that Leonard taught me a lot about.”

MG: How did you meet Leonard Cohen?

Neema: I was walking down The Main and I was on my phone, looking down, and we literally bumped into each other. He was walking down to a shiva for somebody. It was 2005 or 2006. So I introduced myself and he introduced himself and we started talking. So he said – ‘Why don’t we meet later and keep talking.’ We then met later and went for a walk in the park and had a popsicle. And we developed a friendship that turned into a mentorship. He ended up giving me his feedback and helping me with certain lyrics. This was for the Watching You Think album. Then he gave me a lot of feedback on the music. Of course I know he’s very musical but I’ve always thought of him for his great writing. But he really is a great musician.

In a way, I feel him more on this album than the last one. The reason for that is that I feel I learned so much from working so closely with him. I saw him record an album and I saw what his process was. And if I was stuck on a song, he’d give me a writing exercise. Though he was less present on the day-to-day of this one, his teachings were more present. With every album, I feel I’m getting it a little bit more. I feel more at ease with my own intuition and that’s something that Leonard taught me a lot about. I was very insecure before, especially about my abilities in music because I grew up in science and management. I didn’t grow up studying music. For me music is very intuitive. One of the things (Leonard) instilled in me was – ‘How do you feel about this?’ I think the more I learn to listen to what I hear, the more I am able to get to uncover what’s there.

From Brendan Kelly’s Q&A;: Neema talks creativity, Leonard Cohen and her new album, Painting My Wall Gold by Brendan Kelly (Montreal Gazette: July 6, 2016)

Korean Liqueur Fuels Leonard Cohen Adaptation Of English folk Song


It turns out that the Cohen-devised Red Needles cocktail isn’t the only alcoholic concoction linked to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s recording of a specific song. The recording of Leaving Green Sleeves was “the product of ng ka pay,” a Korean liqueur favored by Roshi, who was in the studio drinking with Leonard at the time. In her Leonard Cohen biography, I’m Your Man, Sylvie Simmons reports John Lissauer’s account:

Lissauer had found a place in Chinatown where ng ka pay could be bought, ‘and once in a while we would do a run and pick up a bottle. Hence some of the, shall we say, exotic vocals. On ‘Leaving Green Sleeves,’ we almost had to hold Leonard up to sing; he was ng ka pay’ed out of his mind.’

DrHGuy Note: Ng Ka Py is identified as a Chinese whiskey and has benen called “opium in a bottle.” In East of Eden by John Steinbeck, one of the characters describes it as “the drink that tastes of good rotten apples.” Finally, Ng Ka Py 五加皮, the December 24, 2012 post at the authoritative Pacific Rim Gourmet site, describes the potent drink:

It’s an infusion of a herb named Wu Jya Pi or Bark of Five Additions in the Mandarin dialect (Japanese gokahi, Korean ogapi), also known as Cortex Acanthopanacus. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses this herb — mostly from Sichuan Province — as a tonic to treat problems of the liver, kidney, joints and some other conditions. Alcoholic content of the spirit is high — about 48 percent or 96 proof. And the taste is intense and not to everybody’s liking … Chinese people typically take Ng Ka Py straight in small thimble sized glasses either just by itself, or along with food …

Leonard Cohen After Ottawa Break: “I’m pleased I didn’t go home because it’s just 2 hours down the road from a good bagel.”

Leonard, himself, was in top form, sprinting out on stage after his band and they started right into “Dance me to the end of love”, the number that typically starts off his shows. He showed a gratitude that’s beyond belief at our attendance, thanking us, his “friends”, for the very warm reception, to those who paid out of pocket for the seats on the floor and to those who went to the effort of climbing to the 300 levels to take in his performance. He also showed the self-deprecating and self-aware side that I was previously unaware of when, in the introduction to “Ain’t no cure for love”, he told the story about a particular morning when he stumbled out of bed, to the mirror, and looked at himself and said, “Lighten up, Leonard.” I really appreciated when he joked after the intermission that he was pleased that we didn’t go home and then thought better of it and said, “I’m pleased I didn’t go home because it’s just 2 hours down the road, from a good bagel.”

From Leonard Cohen: A night among “friends” (a review of the Dec 7, 2012 Ottawa concert) by jprobichaud posted December 9, 2012 at Music Insanity!

See Leonard (& Adam) Cohen And The Bagel – Montreal

Note: Originally posted Dec 10, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric