Leonard Cohen On His Embracement Of Poetry & His Shift To Pop Music

I was completely hooked on the stuff [poetry] as a kid. I loved it when I first came across it. When something was said in a certain kind of way it seemed to embrace the cosmos. It’s not just my heart, but every heart was involved, and the loneliness was dissolved, and you felt that you were this aching creature in the midst of an aching cosmos, and the ache was okay. Not only was it okay, but it was the way that you embraced the sun and the moon. I went into pop music. I felt like that’s where I could manifest it. Just on the page wasn’t going to do it for me because I wanted to live it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Jewish Book News Interview With Leonard Cohen by Arthur Kurzweil and Pamela Roth: 1994. Originally posted July 26, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Q: [Why are there] a lot of Jesus references in your work? Leonard Cohen: “Jesus — Why would anybody want to avoid Jesus?”

Leonard Cohen in 1988 interview with Mr. Bonzai. Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted May 15, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Talks About Courtly Love Negatively Impacting His Work

I was attracted to that idea [courtly love] and it’s probably responsible for some atrocious work that I committed. We get hung up and fixated on ideas and sometimes they serve as coat hangers but you don’t really want to wear it with the hanger in it. So much of one’s work, I think, has got the hanger in it. In other words, you get hooked on an ideology or mythology, or a slogan or a position. And you kind of stiffen your work with it. That notion that there was a ritualized possibility between men and women that would get you over the obvious menacing and threatening and bewildering aspects of men and women together that a ritual, a courtly ritual could be invented or discerned or uncovered that would enable men and women to approach one another without the static that has reached deafening proportions today.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, interviewed by Cindy Buissaillon for CBC Radio on August 26, 1995. Originally posted April 12, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On His Use Of Spenserian Stanzas In Night Music


Most of the Leonard Cohen’s lyrics for Night Magic (see A Brief Introduction To Night Magic By Leonard Cohen & Lewis Furey + Video Clip) is written in Spenserian stanzas. He addresses this in the following excerpt:

I’ve always been interested in form, maybe because I don’t trust my own spontaneous nature to come up with anything interesting, and form imposes a certain opportunity to get deeper than your first thought. There’s a school of poetry that believes first thought, best thought. That would have condemned me to an inauspicious superficiality if I had followed that, because I don’t have any ideas. Irving Layton once said to me, ‘Leonard is free from ideas.’ I don’t have an idea and I don’t trust my opinions. I think my opinions are second-rate, but when you submit yourself to a form, then something happens and you’re invited to dig deeper into the language and to discard the slogans by which you live, the easy alibis of language and of opinion. And if you’re looking in the Spenserian stanza, for instance—which is a very, very intricate verse form—you have to come up with many rhymes of the same sound; you’re invited to explore realms that you usually don’t get to in ordinary, easy thought. I’ve considered my thought stream extremely uninteresting, and it’s only when I can discard it that I find I can say something that I can get behind.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Shelagh Rogers (Brick: Summer 2006 – This interview was originally broadcast on Sounds Like Canada in February 2006, produced by Carole Warren.)


“The thing I liked about [the PEN Award] was that I’m sharing it with Chuck Berry” Leonard Cohen

The thing I liked about [the PEN New England award for literary excellence in song lyrics] was that I’m sharing it with Chuck Berry. ‘Roll over Beethoven / Tell Tchaikovsky the news’… I’d like to write a line like thatquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

The Wisdom Of Leonard Cohen by Kevin Perry. GQ: Jan 19, 2012. Chuck Berry photo by Michael Borkson – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted Aug 12, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Also see Chuck Berry Dies – “All of us are footnotes to the words of Chuck Berry” Leonard Cohen

More about the 2012 PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award won by Leonard Cohen and Chuck Berry at PEN Awards.

Leonard Cohen On The Theme Of “The Traitor”


[The Traitor is about] failing or betraying some mission you were mandated to fulfill and being unable to fulfill it and then coming to understand that the real mandate was not to fulfill it but to stand guiltless in the predicament in which you found yourself.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Lian Lunson’s documentary, “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man.”