Leonard Cohen on his songs about lovers forever parting or “condemned to each other for eternity”

I Tried To Leave You – “This Is A Monogamous Song”

Interviewer: In so much of your poetry and songs your lovers are forever parting.
Leonard Cohen: That’s true.
Interviewer: Do you know why?
Leonard Cohen: I don’t remember the songs I wrote a long time ago – they are all saying goodbye.
Interviewer: Well they are leaving each other.
Leonard Cohen: Well I have some here in which they are condemned to each other for eternity, on my new record, for instance I have this song that goes like this:

I tried to leave you, I don’t deny
I closed the book on us at least a hundred times I wake up every morning by your side
the years go by, you loose your pride
the baby is crying so You do not go outside
and all your work is right before your eyes goodnight, my darling
I hope you’re satisfied
the bed is kind of narrow,
but my arms are opened wide
and here’s a man working for your smile.

This is a monogamous song.
Interviewer: You still use the word, “condemn”
Leonard Cohen: Lovers condemned like mated beasts to tie same cage with a long embrace and fighting over scraps of freedom there is aversion of the thing, which is very unattractive. I think anyone who has lived with anyone else knows what I mean.

From an interview with Malka Marom (1970s)

Leonard Cohen On Being “Drawn To Those Intense Experiences” With Women But Not Being Able To “Enjoy Them”

Leonard Cohen: I don’t know what it will be like tomorrow or next week, but at the moment I have very close friends but there’s not “the woman.” But it’s er… I don’t have a sense of unbearable loneliness or any sense of anxiety about it. And sometimes women are kind enough to sleep over in a less intense capacity that I may have chosen before. So it’s not as though I don’t have the intimacy of women from time to time.

Stina Lundberg: Do you miss those intense experiences?

Leonard Cohen: I was never very good at enjoying it. I was drawn to those intense experiences, and obsessed with those intense experiences for much of my life, but I can’t say I really enjoyed them.

Stina Lundberg: How did you feel about them?

Leonard Cohen: Well, I generally gave myself a bad review.

From Leonard Cohen’s 2001 interview with Stina Lundberg.

Note: Originally posted May 15, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Seeing Women “For Real”

I never saw [women] because I wanted them. And when you want something, you want it your way. The quality of desire is, that it is yours. But it has its own tyranny. And when something inside you relaxes  – and I have to add that I am far from being delivered from desire – then you start to see the other person for real.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen Gave Me 200 Franc by Martin Oestergaard (Euroman, Denmark September 2001).

Note: Originally posted March 5, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

One Year Before His Daughter Is Born, Rufus Wainwright Quotes Leonard Cohen About Amazing Babies

One time I was hanging out with Leonard Cohen and his daughter [Lorca]. She was talking about this child she had known as a baby who she hadn’t seen for a few years and how he was now grown up, and she said to her dad: ‘You know, it’s pretty amazing watching how the baby became a person.’ Leonard looked at her and replied very dryly, as only he could: ‘You know, it’s pretty much the only amazing thing there is.’ [Laughs loudly] It’s clearly not a necessity for everyone, but I feel, you know, I shouldn’t deny myself all that ­amazement…quotedown2

Rufus Wainwright


Rufus Wainwright explaining how a comment by Leonard Cohen stimulated his own paternal longings.  From Rufus Wainwright: ‘I was looking right into her face when my mother died’ by Tim Adams (The Observer: Feb 20, 2010). The following excerpt, which immediately preceded the above quotation, is provided for context:

One of the changes that has already happened, Rufus suggests, is that “Martha has shifted, as only women know how to, straight into my mother’s place. She has seamlessly become the matriarch in a way; like she’s already insisting on picking me up from the airport, which my mother always did…” Rufus, as he has never been slow to acknowledge, has a mostly healthy dislike of being outshone by his sister, and perhaps that is one of the reasons why fatherhood now seems very much on his mind, too. “We’re exploring all options, sort of, at the moment,” he says, “and it’s very top secret but it’s certainly something I’m ­thinking of.” When I prompt him about these paternal feelings, he replies with an anecdote.

Note: Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen was born to Lorca Cohen and Rufus Wainwright on February 2, 2011.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Ben Coombs – Rufus Wainwright live At Rock Werchter, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons

Note: Originally posted February 22, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Although only one man may be receiving the favors of a woman, all men in her presence are warmed…” Leonard Cohen

Although only one man may be receiving the favors of a woman, all men in her presence are warmed. That’s the great generosity of women and the great generosity of the creator who worked it out is that there are no unilateral agreements on sexuality.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From “Ladies and Gentlemen, Leonard Cohen” (1965)

Note: Originally posted Feb 16, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen: “I don’t think a man ever gets over that first sight of the naked woman…”


I don’t think a man ever gets over that first sight of the naked woman. I think that’s Eve standing over him, that’s the morning and the dew on the skin. And I think that’s the major content of every man’s imagination. All the sad adventures in pornography and love and song are just steps on the path towards that holy vision.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


The quotation is from Life of a Lady’s Man – Leonard Cohen sings of love and freedom by Brian D. Johnson. Maclean’s, December 7, 1992. The drawing is My First Wife by Leonard Cohen.

Note: Originally posted Feb 10, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric