“Problems exist prior to us, and we gather ourselves, almost molecularly, we gather ourselves around these perplexities. And that’s what a human is: a gathering around a perplexity.” Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen quoted in Leonard Cohen: Several Lifetimes Already by Pico Iyer (Shambhala Sun, September, 1998). Originally posted Nov 26, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen, Patricia Rozema, & The How To Be Happy Documentary



This entry began as a How About That? sort of post about Leonard Cohen’s involvement in a contemplated but never executed documentary. Soon, however, the notion of a documentary transformed from subject to substrate, and the focus became the interaction between Patricia Rozema, who was to direct the documentary, and Leonard Cohen, singer-songwriter, poet, icon, and potential documentary topic.

This kind of thing happens a lot around here.

How To Be Happy – The Documentary

In 2006, the pilfering of Leonard Cohen’s savings (“enough,” he commented “to put a dent in one’s mood”) led to a proposal for a documentary about him, in part, as a means of replenishing his funds. Asked if she would be interested in working on the project. Patricia Rozema, a Toronto-based film director, writer and producer,1 and a fan who doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t know about Leonard Cohen, responded with “I’d pay to do it.”

Consequently, she and Leonard met in New York to discuss possibilities. They discussed such matters as the documentary’s storyline, theme, and structure (one idea was to film Leonard at dinners with friends and family), And, when they discovered Patricia had another project in mind called “How To Be Unbearably Happy” and Leonard had serendipitously written a poem called “How To Be Happy,” they decided the name of the film was fated to be “How To Be Happy.” They also touched on Leonard’s fiscal problems that had him reeling, although he was “more perplexed than angry.”

Nonetheless, Patricia’s memories center not on the documentary but on Leonard himself. For example,

I explained to Leonard that I usually work with fictional characters so they are putty in my hands. Leonard looked at me and said, ‘Patricia, I would love to be putty in your hands.’

As Patricia notes.

Leonard is charming and open. Every word from his mouth is a jewel.

The 2006 Indigo Bookstore Event – Toronto

Two years before the 2008 World Tour, Leonard Cohen spent the Saturday afternoon of May 13th, 2006 listening to – and occasionally singing along with – Anjani, Ron Sexsmith, and the Barenaked Ladies performing his songs. (See Videos & Photos: Leonard Cohen, Anjani, Ron Sexsmith, Barenaked Ladies At Indigo – Toronto 2006)  As part of this documentary, Patricia filmed Cohen’s performance with Anjani & Ron Sexsmith

It was at the Indigo event that Leonard admitted to Rozema some discomfort with being in the public eye after such a long period of solitude.

Leonard & Patricia

After the 2006 Toronto event, Patricia and Leonard met a handful of times, including another New York rendezvous during which Patricia was introduced to Lou Reed. They also communicated on many topics via email, an exchange that continued even after the project was abandoned, ceasing only with Leonard’s death.

Patricia’s predominant, enduring impression is of a “gentle man” who invariably displayed “deep respect” and possessed the unique gift of combining “the profane and the sacred.”

I can think of no better way to close this post than than with this heartfelt advice Leonard proffered to Patricia;

You must do the thing you want most.
We are all our own crash test dummies.


Credit Due Department: The outstanding photos of the Indigo event were taken by Joan Vinall-Cox, who has enjoyed Cohen’s poetry and songs since 1968 when she bought his first album. She was in position to take these pictures because of winning two fourth-row seats to the show in a contest she had forgotten entering. Happily for viewers, she and daughter Meryle were able to attend (and reportedly had a lovely time).

  1. Her work includes I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Mansfield Park, Into the Forest, In Treatment, Grey Gardens, Mozart In The Jungle, and Anne, along with others []

“All of my writing has guitars behind it, even the novels” Leonard Cohen


jgreenSo, that’s why Leonard had this guy
carrying his guitar everywhere

Quote from Leonard Cohen by  K. Murphy and G. Gross (New York Times: April 13, 1969). Photo by Judy Green. Originally posted April 11, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Upon Being Asked If He Followed “Bob Dylan’s Credo, ‘Just because you like my music doesn’t mean I owe you anything'”


I feel the exact opposite. These people created my life. It’s a modest one, but I’ve been able to live and send my kids to school and lead this charmed and lucky existence. At least, that’s the cover story – I’m not talking about my own inner turmoil. I was never a punk, you know? It isn’t my style to be ungrateful to people who buy my records and come to my concerts.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen, responding to the interviewer’s query, “So you don’t follow Bob Dylan’s credo,’Just because you like my music doesn’t mean I owe you anything’?” in Leonard Cohen by Neva Chonin (Rolling Stone: December 11, 1997)

Note: Originally posted Dec 28, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Stellar Performance Of “The Future” On Canadian TV – 1993


canada-futureI’ve seen the future, baby:
It is murder

In support of The Future album (released November 24, 1992), Leonard Cohen appeared on a number of TV shows, including the February 12 ,1993 edition of Friday Night with Ralph Benmergui (CBC).

Leonard Cohen – The Future
Friday Night with Ralph Benmergui (CBC): Feb 12, 1993


Also see

Note: Originally posted August 25, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Prince Charles Recommends Leonard Cohen Songs To Sons, William And Harry

After grumbling about William’s and Harry’s taste in music, Prince Charles raved about his own preferences, including Leonard Cohen:

Prince Charles: I tell you who I also think is wonderful is a chap called Leonard Cohen, do you know him?

Prince William: Is he a jazz player?

Prince Charles: He’s remarkable. I mean the orchestration is fantastic and the words, the lyrics and everything. He’s a remarkable man, and he has this incredibly, sort of laid back, gravelly voice. It’s terrific stuff.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Dan Marsh – Flickr: Prince Charles, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Hear TLV1 Podcast: Malka Marom’s Great Canadian Songbook: Joni, Leonard and I

When Malka Marom, a Canadian-Israeli musician and broadcaster, walked into a destitute Toronto night club in 1966, she was swept off her feet. The music, played by Joni Mitchell, mousy-looking and still unknown, was unlike anything she had heard before. Soon thereafter, they became lifelong friends; Marom’s book Joni Mitchell in Her Own Words is a compilation of conversations they had over a 40-year period. She is now working on another book, featuring conversations with another great Canadian singer-songwriter: Leonard Cohen.

From podcast description

The April 23, 2018 podcast can be heard at Malka Marom’s Great Canadian Songbook: Joni, Leonard and I

“I sometimes see myself in the Court of Ferdinand, singing my songs to girls over a lute” Leonard Cohen

DrHGuy Note: Of course, this begs the question of how he got those girls over a lute to start with.

From Beautiful Creep By Richard Goldstein. Village Voice: December 28, 1967. Photo of Leonard Cohen performing at Queen’s Park Love-in – Yorkville, Toronto 1967, taken by Bill Dampier, is credited to York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, ASC26833. Originally posted Dec 5, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Anjani Chronicles: Anjani Goes To New York, Meets Leonard Cohen, and Finds Romance – But Not In That Order

Introduction To The Anjani Chronicles
Anjani is the exquisite, exotically featured singer and keyboardist best known for her Blue Alert CD, a collection of elegantly performed songs suffused with evocative lyrics, and her professional and romantic relationships with Leonard Cohen, an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right. My own connection to Anjani began in July 2006 when I posted Music Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me, a review of Blue Alert that reflected my captivation with the music. An online flirtation and email relationship between us ensued.1 The Anjani Chronicles is a sequence of posts based on the content of my interviews with Anjani.

Anjani Goes To New York, Meets Leonard Cohen, & Finds Romance – But Not In That Order

Today’s post, the third of this series, begins at the point The Anjani Chronicles – Anjani Does Waikiki, Boston, and The Slough Of Despond ended, with Anjani’s departure from Boston’s Berklee School of Music and extends through her move to New York and her first meetings with John Lissauer and Leonard Cohen.

Home Again, Home Again

After deciding that she had reached the point of diminishing returns at Berklee School of Music, Anjani returns to Hawaii and to gigs on the hotel lounge circuit. In retrospect, the next major turn in her life seems inevitable: a young, beautiful, talented Anjani performing for audiences in luxury hotels on the romantic beaches of Hawaii falls for a tourist from the mainland.

As she explains the experience in an interview with the Honolulu Star Bulletin,

I was in my 20s, and he was the kind of man that swept you off your feet.

What are the odds?

Anjani is, indeed, sufficiently smitten that, pausing barely long enough to pack up all her cares and woes, her cold weather gear, and her Fender Rhodes Stage 88, she follows the guy back to his home in New York where – well, this isn’t the “they lived happily ever after” part of the story.

For one thing, Anjani is clear that New York was not her choice of ideal locales,

I ended up in New York. (It wasn’t music that drew me there). It was a man. I never would have gone there otherwise, I don’t think.2

Anjani is reluctant to provide details, especially about the New Yorker. With some repeated promptings (OK, after some nagging), she does summarize the experience:

It was crush at first sight but I also had rock fever and he was a good excuse to leave [Hawaii]. It was destined to fail as we were both young and dysfunctional; and I recall in particular dreading the joint Gestalt therapy sessions. I’m more of a feeler than a talker. I’ve since learned to express myself and (gasp) consider someone else’s feelings in a relationship.

A year later, concluding that the relationship “isn’t going to work,” Anjani calls the only other person she knows in New York (another musician of course), who agrees that she can crash at his fifth floor walk-up until she can find a place to live.

When she does find that place to live, five years later, she will be leaving for Los Angeles – to live with her new husband.

But I’m getting ahead of the story.

Just now, in fact, the script calls for a cameo appearance of a beloved character from the first episode of the Anjani Chronicles,

Continue Reading →

  1. These events and the aftermath are described at Anjani And DrHGuy FAQ. I’ve also published a batch of blog entries about Anjani and the Blue Alert album that can be found at Anjani Thomas. []
  2. see PopMatters article []

“I have an association with an audience that is very important to me… It’s also a home. It’s also a loyalty I have.” Leonard Cohen

“The reality of my life is that I’m connected to a lot of serious communities in the world.”

Leonard Cohen

Excerpt from Leonard Cohen of Montreal: Interview by Michael Benazon. Matrix: Fall, 1986.

“We are all living in a butcher shop” Leonard Cohen To Adam Green At Lou Reed’s Bar-B-Que

Attributed to Leonard Cohen by singer-songwriter, Adam Green.  Green tells the interviewer that Cohen made the comment to him while at a Bar-B-Que at Lou Reed’s house. From  Adam Green – What Makes Him Act So Bad by Landry (Luxury Wafers: January 5, 2010). Photo by Rama. Originally posted February 22, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric