Leonard Cohen Reveals “Biggest Influence On My Music”


Biggest Influence on My Music: The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. There was “The Great Pretender,” “Cross Over the Road.” I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From  Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen1 (1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

This quotation parallels the following excerpt from a March 2 1985  Leonard Cohen interview with B.P. Fallon (RTE 2, Dublin, Ireland):

Leonard Cohen: It was a great restaurant. I am sorry it disappeared. It was, it was a real funky restaurant, but it had white tablecloths; I don’t know why. (Laughs) And a really good jukebox. Well, it changed over the years. They had good country songs on it, … “Unchained Melody” was a song that I used to listen to a lot on that.

B. P. Fallon: Which version?

Leonard Cohen:

B. P. Fallon: The Righteous Brothers?

Leonard Cohen: The Righteous Brothers, right.

B. P. Fallon: Interesting, here it is.

Leonard Cohen: Oh, that’s a good one.

These comment by Leonard Cohen led to the publication, beginning April 4, 2009, of , first on 1HeckOfAGuy.com and now continuing on Cohencentric. Currently, this series comprises 58 posts, each featuring a song that has won Leonard Cohen’s admiration and this introduction:  All Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox posts can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Note: Originally posted Apr 19, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Full title: “Yakety-Yak : The Midnight Confessions and Revelation of Thirty-Seven Rock Stars and Legends” published by Fireside. The Leonard Cohen section also includes many other quote-worthy tidbits, including “What to Tell a Woman after Sex:  Thank you. []

Leonard Cohen On You Want It Darker “I’m a captive, I’ve got no other purpose or mission. This is my message, this is my last message.”

drk800Quoted by Adam Cohen in Leonard Cohen’s son Adam jokes about father while accepting Juno on his behalf by David Friend (CTV News: April 1, 2017)

Leonard Cohen Talks About Being Granted The “Right To Sing The Blues”

I’ve always loved the blues, I’ve always loved the musical construction of the blues, but I’ve always felt that I didn’t have the right to sing the blues. But somehow, the right was granted to me, I don’t know by what authorities, but I felt that I had the right to use that form and a number of songs came to me that way. Now I have the permission to sing the blues.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen Sings The Blues. Hürriyet Daily News: January 28, 2012, Originally posted Aug 20, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen On His Art “I’ve tried to design the work so that it can last beyond that immediate perception of it”


I mean, that instant response is gratifying, of course, but also you have the risk of the other thing going on all the time, which is instant humiliation. But you know, in some way, I’ve tried to design the work so that it can last beyond that immediate perception of it…If a song lasts for a few years or if a book keeps on turning up, people are still interested in it, or if I myself can pick it up and not be totally embarrassed by it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From 1980 CBC interview

Leonard Cohen on Songwriting: “[A song] really doesn’t have a meaning any more than a diamond has a meaning”


From a certain point of view, my songs are free from meaning and significance. There’s not a secret that is being concealed, there’s nothing that I am not yielding. It really doesn’t have a meaning any more than a diamond has a meaning. The meaning is that it was cut and polished and it produces light.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Sincerely, L. Cohen by Brian Cullman (Details for Men, January, 1993). Originally posted Oct 13, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

“First we killed the Lord & then we stole the blues” Why Leonard Cohen Discarded This Verse From “Democracy”


The Verse Not Taken

First we killed the Lord and then we stole the blues
This gutter people always in the news
But who really gets to laugh behind the black man’s back
When he makes his little crack about the Jews?
Who really gets to profit and who really gets to pay?
Who really rides the slavery ship right into Charleston Bay?
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

This verse, completed for “Democracy” but omitted from the final version (the lines were performed as a spoken verse in two concerts: San Francisco – July 3, 1993 and Boston – July 16, 19931) is an artifact of the rigorous revising that was integral to Leonard Cohen’s songwriting process and offers insight into his insight and intent. The following excerpt, from Tower Of Song – Interview (Feb 1992) by Paul Zollo. SongTalk: April 1993, is Leonard’s response to the query “Why did you take that [verse] out?”

I didn’t want to compromise the anthemic, hymn-like quality. I didn’t want it to get too punchy. I didn’t want to start a fight in the song. I wanted a revelation in the heart rather than a confrontation or a call-to-arms or a defense.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Note: Originally posted Aug 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Source: Diamonds In The Lines []