1972: “I’ve had to scrape them out of my heart”
I’ve never written [lyrics] with the kind of luxury of choice. I’ve never sat down at my table and said ‘there are people starving and there are people who are being tortured and brutalized, I must write a song to redeem them’. My songs have come to me, I’ve had to scrape them out of my heart. They come in pieces at a time and in showers and fragments and if I can put them together into a song and I have something at the end of the excavation I’m just grateful for having it. It tells me where I am and where I’ve been. I can’t predispose the song to any situation or anything in the political realm, but if I live in the political realm and I’m aware of what is going down and my songs come out of that awareness of ignorance. A lot of my songs come out of ignorance.
From “Complexities And Mr. Cohen” by Billy Walker (Sounds, March 4, 1972). Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles
Sylvie Simmons: You had said previously that songs had to be ‘scraped’ or ‘torn’ from your heart. Is writing still that bloody?
Did I say that? That romantic image has somewhat evaporated. Now I’d say it’s the work of a scavenger. … The content of whatever it is you write is a matter of scavenging around and trying to satisfy this appetite to make something.
From Felonious Monk by Sylvie Simmons, (MOJO: November 2001) [underlining mine]
Note: Originally posted June 19, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric