Q: What is your political stance? Leonard Cohen: “Pure Survival”

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What is your political stance?

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It is a stance of pure survival. I believe that a human being must defend his beliefs against wind and tide. Whatever position he believes he has to adopt, he must do so. If you think you have to fight, you must, and if you think you should hide, do that. That is my political stance – a question of survivalquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Words And Silences by Constantino Romero (1974). Republished in Rockdelux 356 (December 2016). Via Google Translate. Photo by Pete Purnell

“There is a moment when we have to transcend the side we’re on and understand that we are creatures of a higher order…” Leonard Cohen

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I don’t know which side anybody is on any more. I don’t really care. There is a moment when we have to transcend the side we’re on and understand that we are creatures of a higher order. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish you courage in your struggle. There is on both sides of the struggle men of good will. That is important to remember. On both sides of the struggle, some struggling for freedom, some struggling for safety and solemn testimony of that unbroken faith which binds generations one to another …quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen alluding to the conflict between Solidarity & the Communist government in Poland during the 1980s in his introduction to If It Be Your Will at the March 22, 1985 Warsaw concert. Transcription by Artur Jarosinski, accessed at LeonardCohenFiles

Video: Leonard Cohen Performs First We Take Manhattan Featuring Pablo The Monkey – Barcelona 2012

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manhattanmonkeyscrnsht.jpg.scaled1000I’m uncertain whether Leonard Cohen engaged Pablo1 in this performance as an inspirational talisman, a mnemonic device, a transitional object, or as I think most likely – an ally in the stare down with Javier Mas. Regardless, the Cohen, Mas, & Monkey Trio won the applause and, one presumes, the hearts of the audience.

I am reliably informed that Pablo obtained his guest shot on the Cohen show through his agent, Christelle Zajac, who, it is claimed, physically threw her client onto the stage (those familiar with agents will not be surprised at this seemingly ruthless tactic). Pablo is the most recent in a sequence of stuffed simians appearing in cameo roles at Cohen concerts, being preceded by, among others, the American Fred (management: MaryB), the Irish Butler, Vegas Ed, and the French Jacques. Pictured below is Fred at the 2009 Leonard Cohen Las Vegas Concert

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First We Take Manhattan
Barcelona: March 10, 2012
Video by
Note: The monkey sequence begins at 0:18

Note: Originally posted Oct 5, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
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  1. “”Pablo The Monkey” appears to be a stage name taken to distinguish this artist from the other primates bearing his given name, “The Monkey” []

Leonard Cohen’s Clinical Depression, Its Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution

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Leonard Cohen’s Antidepressant Medications Joke & His Not At All Funny Depression

Those who have attended a Leonard Cohen Concert during the 2008-2009 Tour, checked out videos of those concerts, or read Cohencentric posts referring to Cohen’s just a kid with a crazy dream … cheerfulness kept breaking through monologue may recall the portion of Cohen’s stage spiel that goes something like this:

I was 60 years old [when last on tour] — just a kid with a crazy dream. Since then I’ve taken a lot of Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Ritalin, Focalin, … I’ve also studied deeply in the philosophies and religions, but cheerfulness kept breaking through.

The opening moments of this video from the Nokia Theater (Los Angeles) show on April 10, 2009 is representative:

Feature stories about Leonard Cohen in newspapers and blogs published during the World Tour have almost routinely covered his Zen Buddhist experience and his Jewish background; consequently, most audience members readily grasp the references to religions and philosophies.1

The significance of the list of antidepressant medications, however, may be less apparent because that part of Cohen’s history seems, with notable exceptions, less frequently mentioned in those recent articles.

Clearly, someone should do something. But who and how?

That’s right – this calls for a Cohencentric public service announcement.

Leonard Cohen, Depression, Medications, and Noncompliance

By the 1950s, Cohen, then in his late teens, was experiencing signs and symptoms of depression,2 a disorder from  which his mother also suffered.3

Cohen describes his despondency in A Happy Man by Mireille Silcott:4

“My depression, so bleak and anguished, was just crucial, and I couldn’t shake it; it wouldn’t go away,” he says, looking back at that time from his suite in the Vogue. “I didn’t know what it was. I was ashamed of it, because it would be there even when things were good, and I would be saying to myself, ‘Really, what have you got to complain about?’ But for people who suffer from acute clinical depression, it is quite irrelevant what the circumstances of your life are.”

 

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  1. Re the source of Cohen’s “I’ve studied all the philosophies … ” crack, The original line was actually uttered by one Edward Edwards, who directed it to his friend, Samuel Johnson: “You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson. I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don’t know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.” Recorded by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D []
  2. Other sources argue, less convincingly, that Cohen’s depression was in evidence since age nine, apparently confusing a possible contributing cause of depression, the death of Cohen’s father that year, with the onset of the disorder itself. []
  3. Nadel, Ira Bruce.  Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen. University of Texas Press, 2007. p 48 []
  4. A Happy Man by Mireille Silcott Saturday Night, Canada. September 15, 2001 []

Leonard Cohen Identifies “Valentina” As Suzanne Elrod

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bookcdPhoto By Valentina

A photo by Suzanne Elrod was used as cover art for Leonard Cohen: Live Songs. Dominique BOILE noticed that the same Leonard Cohen photo was also found on the back cover of the 1974 edition of The Energy Of Slaves but was credited differently.

Energy Of Slaves

The book’s photo is credited to “Valentina.”

Valentina or Suzanne00011200Leonard Cohen: Live Songs
The same photo on the album is credited to “S.B. Elrod.”1

Valentina or Suzanne0003While Dominique’s presumptive explanation was that the same photographer was credited under different names, he contacted Leonard Cohen for clarification and received this reply:

Suzanne Valentina Elrod
Same person
Be well
Love

L

Leonard Cohen & Suzanne Elrod

Leonard Cohen met Suzanne Elrod,2 an artist who was then 19 (15 years his junior), in 19683 at New York’s Plaza Hotel where Cohen was attending a Scientology class and Elrod was living with the support of a businessman. She soon moved into his apartment at the Chelsea Hotel. Two children, Adam (born 1972) and Lorca (born in 1974) followed in short order. Never married, Elrod and Cohen ended their relationship in the late 1970s. Following the separation, Elrod moved Adam and Lorca to several locations, including the south of France, New York, and Paris.

Suzanne Elrod with Lorca & Adam Cohen

Suzanne Elrod with Lorca & Adam Cohen

Suzanne Val Elrod

In retrospect, it is simple enough to find several references to “Suzanne Val Elrod,” including the legend for this photo posted at Adam Cohen Facebook Page:

adamplusmother, father, grandmother, 1972, montreal. — with Adam Cohen, Suzanne Val Elrod and Leonard Cohen.

Suzanne Elrod’s twitter account, in fact, is Suzanne Val Elrod.

And, although Google finds no matches to “Suzanne Valentina Elrod,” the leap from “Val” to “Valentina” is a short one.

Valentina Gave Me Four Months

This identification illuminates the eponymous subject of “Valentina gave me four months,” a poem from The Energy of Slaves (Note: Hear Leonard Cohen recite this and other poems at Leonard Cohen On Sighting The Perfect Ass & Other Poems):4

Valentina gave me four months
of her twentieth year and then returned to a rich man
who lived in the Plaza Hotel

She watched television all day long
and she never told me a lie
I loved to creep up behind her
when she was engrossed in Star Trek
and kiss her little ass-hole

It was a happy hotel room at the Chelsea
We never let anyone come over
(I do not think she minded my pranks)

Credit Due Department: The photo of Suzanne Elrod with Lorca & Adam Cohen is a screenshot from Harry Rasky’s film, “The Song of Leonard Cohen.”

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  1. It seems likely that the “B” was a typo resulting from a misheard “V.” []
  2. Suzanne Elrod is not the Suzanne who “feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China” in the Leonard Cohen song by the same name. The Suzanne described in the song is Suzanne Verdal, []
  3. Or 1969; accounts vary []
  4. Given Leonard Cohen ‘s pronouncement, “God, whenever I see her [Suzanne Elrod’s] ass, I forget every pain that’s gone between us” (Source: Leonard Cohen Says That to All the Girls by Barbara Amiel. Maclean’s: Sept 18, 1978.), it seems a good bet that the titular perfect ass in “It was only when you walked away I saw you had the perfect ass,” another poem in The Energy of Slaves, was Ms Elrod’s. []

What Is That On The Table In Front Of Leonard Cohen?

One of the videos shown at the Nov 6, 2017 Montreal Leonard Cohen Tribute Concert has a scene (see above screen capture) that has occasioned queries from fans about the device being used by Mr Cohen. While I didn’t know anything about the implement, I did know someone who might. And, sure enough, Kezban Özcan (who served as Leonard Cohen’s personal assistant) identified the apparatus as an absinthe fountain. Now, what is an absinthe fountain? That answer comes from the Absinthe Fever site:

An absinthe fountain, contrary to what one might think, is not for dispensing absinthe, but rather for dispensing water. Absinthe is rarely drunk neat, and an absinthe fountain is an accessory used to deliver the required amount of ice-cold water into a glass of the high-proof drink…

To the absinthe connoisseur, however, an absinthe fountain is more than just a decorative water dispenser. As all serious absintheurs know, a quality louche cannot be achieved by merely sloshing water into a glass of absinthe; instead, a steady drizzle is required to witness the exquisite transformation of colour and to accomplish the all-important release of essential herbal oils. Although chilled water may be poured (slowly!) from a jug or carafe, absinthe fountains have long served as handy accessories that help to unlock the beauty, power, effects and true taste of great absinthe.

Video: Hallelujah – Images & Music Of Leonard Cohen 2012


Gwen Langford, webmaster of Gwen’s Leonard Cohen Journey, offers a nicely constructed video – a slideshow of photos she took at performances of Hallelujah during 2012 Leonard Cohen concerts in Ghent, Dublin, Montreal and Toronto set to the recording of the song from the Nov 29, 2012 Montreal show.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Video by Gwenluvsmusic

Note: Originally posted Feb 8, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I think that in the final moment, Phil [Spector] couldn’t resist annihilating me. I don’t think he can tolerate any other shadows in his darkness.” Leonard Cohen

DrHGuy Note: I suspect that in that situation, I would have said something along the lines of “He was mean to me because he’s rotten.” This is why Leonard Cohen is a poet-songwriter-icon and I’m a blogger.

From Leonard Cohen Obscured…A Haunting by Spector by Stephen Holden. Rolling Stone: January 26, 1978.

Leonard Cohen Writing About & Playing Pinball Machines

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I had a lot of fun with [Leonard Cohen]. He was a completely weird guy, who liked to go around the streets of Montreal and play pinball. And I liked to play pinball, too, so that was a great bond that we had, in the beginning.

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John Hammond

 

Leonard Cohen – Singer, Songwriter, Poet, Novelist, Icon, and Pinball Wizard – takes on the Monster Bash pinball machine at his hotel in Copenhagen during his 2008 tour. This magnificent photo was shot & shared by Joseph S. Carenza III. (Please do not repost without photographer’s permission). The John Hammond quote is from The John Hammond Years – Interview with John Hammond and Leonard Cohen. BBC: September 20, 1986. Accessed 30 March 2015 at LeonardCohenFiles.

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Flippers, of course, have destroyed the sport by legalizing the notion of the second chancequotedown2

Leonard Cohen

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From Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s Best (Unpublished) Response To An Interviewer’s Question

Dan Cairns: Do you ever – not literally, but figuratively – turn a corner and bump into yourself?

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I’m worried about you, Danquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From the Dan Cairns–Sunday Times Culture questionnaire Leonard Cohen sent me Oct 17, 2016. While some of that questionnaire was incorporated into Leonard Cohen: Hey, that’s some way to say goodbye by Dan Cairns (The Sunday Times: October 23 2016), this specific response was not used in the final article. Graphic based on a photo by Kezban Özcan.