Leonard Cohen On His Songwriting Process: “I have to discard versions of myself, and versions of the songs, until I can get to a situation where I can defend every word, every line…”


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I tend to get shattered as I bring a project to completion. I have to discard versions of myself, and version of the songs, until I can get to a situation where I can defend every word, every line. But that place often involves a real shattering of equanimity, or of balance…I have to go to this naked and raw place. And it usually involves the breakdown of my personality, and I flip out … I can’t go into crowds, I don’t want to leave my house, I don’t want to leave my room, I don’t want to answer the phone, all my relationships collapse.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, speaking about his efforts on The Future album, quoted in The Loneliness of The Long-Suffering Folkie By Wayne Robins (Newsday: November 22, 1992.). Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I’m not impressed by my opinions … It is the kind of information that arises from the work of making the songs that interests me.” Leonard Cohen


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I’m not impressed by my opinions at all. It is the kind of information that arises from the work of making the songs that interests me, and those are positions. I call them positions rather than opinions. Those are positions that I don’t command and I don’t use in arguments. They just are positions, they just are constellations of feelings and thoughts that as I say are often empty and just act as refreshment or oxygen, rather than slogans or manifestos.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen: Pondering His Past and ‘The Future’ by Scott Crawford (Intermission, Stanford Daily: April 8, 1993). Originally posted Aug 3, 2016 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Biblical Associations In His Music

Q: Much of the imagery in your music has biblical associations. Is that intentional?

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I’ve always regarded the Bible as a collection of stories we all know and it’s important to tap into a common reservoir. Our Bible was written during one of the great periods of the language, and most of the great orators of recent memory — Jesse Jackson or Martin Luther King Jr., for instance — are based in that tradition. That’s where the richness of our language resides.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Eight Hours To Harry, Kristine McKenna (KCRW: Oct 1988).

Credit Due Department: “This [the photo] is a first edition of the first King James version of the Bible. It was published in 1611 by Robert Barker, the King’s printer.” Photo and description by Earl McGehee

Note: Originally posted Jan 19, 2015 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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

Also see

“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