Leonard Cohen On The Effect Of Depression On His Creative Work “It’s anguish. It’s a pain in the ass…”

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I don’t feel it [the depression] was necessarily the engine of the activity. It’s anguish. It’s a pain in the ass. On the contrary, I find my capacity to concentrate enhanced without that background of horror.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

The Prince of Prurience and Loss by John Leland, GQ: Nov 2001.

A summary of information about Leonard Cohen’s depression can be found at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution. All posts about Leonard’s depression are collected at ,

“[My work] may not be always easy to understand, but it is easy to embrace…” Leonard Cohen on the Comprehension of His Songs

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Interviewer: “His work, I put to him [Leonard Cohen], is not always easy to understand.”

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No. Well, it may not be always easy to understand, but it is easy to embrace. It’s simple. ‘All at once the torches flare / The inner door flies open / One by one they enter there / In every style of passion.’ Every style of passion is in my work… It’s best just to think of these as little songs, not terribly complicated, not any more complicated than anyone’s experience. How could they be? It is the work of my heart.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Love Me, Love My Gun Barrel by Graham Lock. New Musical Express: February 23, 1980. Photo of Leonard Cohen performing in Amsterdam, 1980 by Pete Purnell.

A discussion of related issues can be found at Three Characteristics That Make A Song A Leonard Cohen Song: #3. Artistic Design – Introduction

“To speak casually about the subject is taking the name in vain. There’s a commandment against it.” Leonard Cohen


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[Relationships with God, with women, with the world] are appropriately addressed in one’s work. Otherwise, it’s just gossip, which is not a particularly exalted activity. A great deal of time and attention has gone into producing the language. To speak casually about the subject is taking the name in vain. There’s a commandment against it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Prince of Prurience and Loss by John Leland, GQ: Nov 2001.

Leonard Cohen Performs Lover, Lover, Lover, A Song Born Of Conflict – Paris 1976

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‘Lover, Lover, Lover’ was born over there; the whole world has its eyes riveted on this tragic and complex conflict. Then again, I am faithful to certain ideas, inevitably. I hope that those of which I am in favour will gain.1quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

These words by Leonard Cohen reference the 1973 Yom Kippur War. I posted this video and those lines after the Nov 13, 2015 Paris terror attacks – and now I find myself turning to them again after the 2017 atrocities in Manchester and London.

And may the spirit of this song
May it rise up pure and free
May it be a shield for you
A shield against the enemy

Leonard Cohen – Lover Lover Lover
Backup Singers: Laura Branigan & Cheryl Barnes
Le Grand Echiquier on French TV: May 27, 19762

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Jo Meul who alerted me to this superior version of Leonard Cohen singing Lover Lover Lover on French TV in 1976.

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  1. “I’m Just A Minor Poet” By Gilles Medioni. L’Express, France, October 4, 2001. Found at Leonard Cohen French Web Site. []
  2. Le Grand Echiquier was a live tribute program presented by Jacques Chancel and dedicated to Charles Aznavour, featuring Bird on The Wire, Lover Lover Lover, and Suzanne. Source: Diamonds in the Mine []

Leonard Cohen on The Future: “The last thing we need is something else to bring us down. And I never meant to do that. I always meant to invigorate.”


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The Future would be pretty grim if I just nailed it up on the church door like Martin Luther. I mean it is a hot little track and you can dance to it. It’s gotta have that. The last thing we need is something else to bring us down. And I never meant to do that. I always meant to invigorate.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Rebirth of a Ladies’ Man By Brendan Kelly. The Financial Post: December 12, 1992.

“My work is like ice cubes in a drink. It just changes the drink.” Leonard Cohen


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I like the metaphor, and I’m not sure what it means, but it seems to be right, that I feel my work is like ice cubes in a drink. It just changes the drink. Even though the songs are dense and carefully worked out, it’s very difficult to say exactly what they mean or stand for. but like the taste of cold water, it’s refreshing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen: Pondering His Past and ‘The Future’ by Scott Crawford (Intermission, Stanford Daily: April 8, 1993); Originally posted Oct 20, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric