Leonard Cohen on the irrelevance of declaring oneself a conservative, a liberal, etc “in the face of the catastrophe that everybody’s really dealing with”


Everybody’s kind of hanging onto their broken orange crate in the flood, and when you pass someone else, to declare yourself an optimist or a pessimist, or pro-abortion or against abortion, or a conservative or a liberal, these descriptions are obsolete in the face of the catastrophe that everybody’s really dealing with.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen – Later with Jools Holland (1993)

Note: Originally posted January 25, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“When it’s every man for himself the identification of race arises. I think those are very dangerous times.” Leonard Cohen on The Future

Of course I affirm the people that are trying to save the forest and the environment but to me those are symptoms of something else. It’s an alibi to think you’re getting anywhere by doing that sort of thing. The self-righteousness and self-congratulations that go with it seems to suggest that you can’t write a song about the boredom of the rainforest, the boredom of the ozone, the boredom of recycling. Yeah, we’ve got to do all those things but let’s not ignore the fact that something is going down here. It’s like trying to tidy up on the Titanic. I wrote that song soon after the Wall came down – it had to be written. When the centre erodes and people can no longer find a centre they will seize on the most easily available form of identification. The most easily available identification is racial. We see that happening, there’s no way you can sit down and reason in that situation, reasoning depends on some sort of order. When it’s every man for himself the identification of race arises. I think those are very dangerous times. And that is the time we are in.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen: Hello! I Must Be Cohen, Gavin Martin, New Musical Express, 9 January 1993.

Leonard Cohen On “Democracy is the great religion of the West”

Democracy is the great religion of the West – probably the greatest religion because it affirms other religions; probably the greatest culture because it affirms other cultures. But it’s based on faith, it’s based on appetite for fraternity, it’s based on love, and therefore it shares the characteristics of a religious movement. It’s also like a religion in that it’s never really been tried.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


The Future by Alberto Manzano. El Europeo: Spring 1993. Note: Originally posted June 26, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On His Feelings About Paris After 2015 Terrorist Attacks: “I said goodbye to something that I didn’t want to lose.”


Leonard Cohen at his final Paris Concert – June 18, 2013

Le Dernier Empereur by J.D. Beauvallet and Pierre Siankowski (Les Inrocks: Oct 19, 2015) [from interview transcript]

Credit Due Department: Photo by Mhln

“Politics in a very, very personal sense” 1992 Video Interview With Leonard Cohen


Gordana Stupar’s latest discovery of Leonard Cohen arcana, a 1992 NRK interview with Agnes Moxnes, is especially timely given the impending US presidential election. The background is a performance of Democracy, and the notions invoked by this song are the primary topics of the interview.

Watch Leonard Cohen point out what he finds attractive about Ross Perot – and George Bush – and Bill Clinton (and Bill Clinton’s “lovely wife”). Hear the Canadian singer-songwriter explain that he sometimes feels that he is the leader of a “small constituency” of those who do not feel represented and are consequently, if not rebellious, at least “irritated” and “saddened.”  Marvel as he references G. K. Chesterton, noting that democracy is like a religion in that it’s never really been tried.1

Most enlightening, however, are Cohen’s comments on his characterization of politics as used in Democracy: “It’s politics in a very, very personal sense.”

Politics in a personal sense.It’s as if you’re asked to think of democracy the way you think of a lover or a friend or a child or a parent … It’s a very personal and useless view. The things of the heart are really useless and that’s their value. They can’t be put to work. You just live with them.”

This video can be accessed at 1992 NRK Leonard Cohen Interview



  1. The Chesterton quotation is actually “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” []

“Revolutionaries, in their heart of hearts, are excited by the tyranny they wield” Leonard Cohen

Of course it’s a revolution. But I want to see the real revolution. I don’t want it siphoned off by the mobilization people. It’s got to take place in every room. Revolutionaries, in their heart of hearts, are excited by the tyranny they wield. The lines are being drawn and people on both sides are beginning to terrorize each other. Somehow we have to break out of this process, which can only lead to both sides becoming like each other. I’m afraid that when the Pentagon is finally stormed and taken, it will be by guys wearing uniforms very much like the ones worn by the guys defending it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From “I’ve Been on the Outlaw Scene Since 15” by William Kloman. New York Times: Jan 28, 1968.