Leonard Cohen on the experience of hearing a song: “It’s like a sexual embrace …”

Interviewer: “Where do these depths of despair come from?”

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I can’t really answer that. I think that when people hear a song, they hear it in a realm where these questions are irrelevant. It’s only after they stop listening that the questions arise. The songs themselves don’t partake of a description like elation or depression. It’s like a sexual embrace–there are no questions until you step outside of the embrace, separate yourself from it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen: The Romantic in a Ragpicker’s Trade by Paul Williams (Crawdaddy, March 1975). Originally posted November 7, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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“I feel most comfortable when I think of myself as the leader of a government-in-exile…It gives me a position that I can work from.” Leonard Cohen

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I feel most comfortable when I think of myself as the leader of a government-in-exile. Sometimes I like to think of myself that way. It gives me a position that I can work from. It is not whether I take it seriously or not seriously, we are not speaking about a rational operation. It is just that one feels that one can embody the unspoken aspirations of both oneself and the people you know as somebody who takes responsibility for the predicament, and presents not a solution but an approach. That leads you to some interesting kinds of positions.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen, Personal Interview with Winfried Siemerling. 2 November 1990, North York. Unpublished. Quoted in Interior Landscapes and the Public Realm: Contingent Mediations in a Speech and a Song by Leonard Cohen by Winfried Siemerling. Canadian Poetry: No. 33, Fall/Winter, 1993. Originally posted May 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“It’s what Lorca called his version of Deep Throat, the ‘deep song.’ The song that comes out of indisputably authentic experience. That’s the stuff you try to write.” Leonard Cohen

From A Purple Haze To A Purple Patch by Adam Sweeting (The Canberra Times: July 24, 1994)

“It doesn’t really matter what the singer is speaking of, it doesn’t really matter what the song is. There’s something I listen for in a singer’s voice and that’s some kind of truth …” Leonard Cohen


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It doesn’t really matter what the singer is speaking of, it doesn’t really matter what the song is. There’s something I listen for in a singer’s voice and that’s some kind of truth. It may even be truth of deception, it may even be the truth of the scam, the truth of the hustle in the singers own presentation, but something is coming across that is true, and if that isn’t there the song dies. And the singer deserves to die too, and will, in time, die. So the thing that I listen for is that note of something big manifested that is beyond the singer’s control.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns – Interview With Leonard Cohen Presented By John McKenna. RTE Ireland, May 9 & 12, 1988. Originally posted Dec 3, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I always associated song and singing with some sort of nobility of spirit.” Leonard Cohen

Quotation from Transcript of Pacifica Interview with Kathleen Kendall. WBAI Radio, New York City: December 4, 1974. Photo by Pete Purnell (Leonard Cohen In Concert 1974 To 1993: Photos By Pete Purnell). Originally posted Dec 23, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on Suzanne: “She’s great but she’s half crazy …”


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[The song] Suzanne is about a girl I know. She’s great but she’s half crazy. And the other week I was in New York or Los Angeles or somewhere and a guy came up to me and said he liked my song and that he’d lived with Suzanne for a while. And I asked him if he was still with her. And he said no he couldn’t stand it any more. The girl was half crazy.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen by Ray Connolly. Evening Standard, July 1968