“One of the absolute qualifications for a writer is not knowing his arse from his elbow.” Leonard Cohen

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One of the absolute qualifications for a writer is not knowing his arse from his elbow. I think that’s where it starts. With a lack of knowledge. The sense of not knowing what is happening and the need to organise experience on the page or in the song is one of the motivations of a writer.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabatoge Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview). Originally posted Jan 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“You sense the destruction of your body & your mind, and you feel here is…the last boxing ring, or the last Ouija board, where you can examine some of the ideas that have intrigued you. That have seized you, really.” Leonard Cohen


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The clear sense that you know you’re in the homeward stretch is a very compelling component in writing. A lot of other things fall away that you hope would satisfy you like human life, and your work becomes a kind of haven, and you want to go there, and you’re grateful when the time opens in such a way that you can actually sit down and work at your own work, because everything else somehow has failed. I’m speaking not just for myself. Somehow, just in the nature of things, you know, the disappointments accumulate, and the obstacles multiply and you sense the destruction of your body, and your mind, and you feel here is the last arena, ‘arena’ is too big, the last boxing ring, or the last Ouija board, where you can examine some of the ideas that have intrigued you. That have seized you, really.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Coffee and candour with Cohen by Simon Houpt (Globe & Mail: Feb. 27, 2009). Originally posted July 25, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On The Mistaken Interpretation Of Sex In Beautiful Losers


The book [Beautiful Losers] sold 350,000 copies in paperback form in America but he couldn’t get it published in Britain because it was considered too obscene for anyone to handle.

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They didn’t realise that I wasn’t turning people on to sex but putting it downquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

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

Leonard Cohen on Pop Music (1992): “I can’t understand half the songs”

A good friend of mine actually said if Leonard Cohen started out today, he would be rapping.

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I can’t understand half the songs in the centre which is supposed to be the pop world. Either they’ve moved into a new stage of cryptology that I’ve been unable to follow and penetrate or it’s just lazy or it’s gotten slack or people just aren’t workin’ hard enough on the craft. I don’t understand what they’re saying most of the time. A lot of the stuff is, I think, just… lazy; but, because of the social urgencies that produce rap — and because of the demands of rhyme and rhythm — you get coherent statements and you get the impression of a mind, of a mind that has formed and gathered around a topic and is ready to manifest it. Another thing is that we’ve had twenty years or so of dance music which I think we deserved because the self-indulgences of the sixties got pretty intense. I mean, there were few geniuses like Dylan or Phil Ochs who are writing great complex songs with lots of words in them. But, lots of people scrambled and scratched up the bandwagon and, you know, we got a kind of language in our popular music that was intolerable after a while. You really couldn’t figure out what they were saying. The stuff was so mystical, so obtuse, so arcane, so self-indulgent. People just got weary of listening and I think they wanted to start dancing. Well, we’ve been dancing for twenty years and I think everybody’s tired and they want to sit down again and I think that’s the way the pendulum swings. And we really want to figure out, now, what people are thinking about the way things are going.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen’s The Future Interview by Bob Mackowitz. Transcript from a radio special produced by Interviews Unlimited for Sony Music, 1992. The transcript was prepared by Judith Fitzgerald. Originally posted Jun 27, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I’ve tried to create songs, now, that are appropriate to the gravity of the situation…” Leonard Cohen On Closing Time

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I’ve tried to create songs, now, that are appropriate to the gravity of the situation… where there’s no public utterance without the understanding that it looks like freedom but it feels like death and it’s closing time. Something’s gone down. You ignore it at the peril of your self-respect or of your possible rescue.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s The Future Interview by Bob Mackowitz. Transcript from a radio special produced by Interviews Unlimited for Sony Music, 1992. The transcript was prepared by Judith Fitzgerald. Originally posted June 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The more accurate you get about your situation [in song], the more accessible it is to other people” Leonard Cohen

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With such personal lyrics it seems that the songs must serve some psychological function, probably cathartic, but Cohen says no, seeing himself as a tradesman pure and simple.

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I don’t know what it is. It becomes your work, one of the few things you know how to do, especially as you get older. The premise, when I examine it – and I don’t examine it too often – I’ve always felt that the more personal you get, the more universal the application, rather than the other way around. If you begin to address yourself to the masses like that, then I suppose you could have a hit, but to me the more accurate you get about your situation, then the more accessible it is to other people.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Cohen Down The Road By Karl Dallas, Melody Maker, May 22, 1976. Found at Reality Now!. Photo by Roloff Beny / Library and Archives Canada / PA-196331. Note: Originally posted Jan 8, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric