“The people who call themselves poets are not necessarily in command of that activity.” Leonard Cohen On Poets & Poetry


The phenomenon of poetry occurs in many realms, probably least frequently on the page. The people who call themselves poets are not necessarily in command of that activity. To try to summon that activity is to give yourself the least chance of experiencing it. If you’re really desperate and your life is really dismal and all the contests you have you lose as you tend to in life . . . since no one can take the title poet away from you while you embrace it, it’s a good thing to hang on to for a lot of people with nothing else to hang on to. It’s probably the last resort. But why not? A lot of people don’t care for suicide. Even if all the critics, all your friends, even your wife and lovers say, hey, fella, you’re no poet, you can still, in the secret chambers of your heart, say, what do they know? But I think that’s a pretty desperate situation. No doubt many people are in it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

The Confessions Of Leonard Cohen by Stephen Williams (Toronto Life: September, 1980). Photo taken November 1980 by Alberto Manzano.

The Ascetic Beauty Of Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche Captured By An Immaculately Austere Video – Sydney 2010



You who wish to conquer pain,
You must learn what makes me kind;
The crumbs of love that you offer me,
They’re the crumbs I’ve left behind.
Your pain is no credential here,
It’s just the shadow, shadow of my wound.

The Right Fit Of Video & Song

The recent posting of Discreet Video Captures Leonard Cohen’s Intimate Performance Of Suzanne – Bercy, Paris 2013 called to mind another instance in which a recording of a Leonard Cohen performance employing a nearly stationary camera view and austerely understated visuals constitutes a “perfect match of song and video technique.”

The majority of videos spotlighted on this site feature multiple camera movements, closeups, and other maneuvers. The video selection is skewed toward songs such as “The Future,” which involves a number of activities on stage (e.g., Leonard Cohen or Roscoe Beck dancing, the Webb Sisters cartwheeling) or the song used to introduce the band members (currently “Anthem”). A well-executed video of these performances  may require several transitions from one performer to another, adjusting to shifts in stage lighting, and catching any nuanced variations from the typical rendition of the song.

In the case of “Avalanche,” on the other hand, the key is maintaining a rock-steady focus on Leonard Cohen himself while simultaneously recording a clear audio track, a theoretically simpler assignment for the videographer but one all too rarely accomplished. The recording embedded below, however, is an excellent example of the well-executed video of a well-performed song – a species that deserves attention and appreciation.

Leonard Cohen – Avalanche
Sydney: 11/8/2010
Video by alanm5049

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

Photos: Revelatory Moments & Subtle Gestures – 2013 Leonard Cohen Bournemouth Concert

August 26, 2013 Leonard Cohen Bournemouth Concert

When I first heard from Pete Purnell, he wrote that his goal was to take concert photos that would “capture moments and subtle gestures” of the sort that are rarely caught in the shots favored by sources, such as newspapers and magazines, serving large populations. These photos from the 2013 Leonard Cohen Bournemouth Concert are evidence that he remains committed to this mission.



Note: Originally posted Sep 29, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“What a groove!” Leonard Cohen On Be For Real


“I don’t give a damn about the truth
Except the naked truth”

‘What a groove!’ Cohen shouts over the booming bass and soaring backing vocals. Is that real brass? ‘Fuckin’ right it is!’ He slaps his legs as the ad-libbed couplet ‘I don’t give a damn about the truth/Except the naked truth’ is declared to be perilously close to Barry White territory. ‘Thank you!’ he calls back above the swelling chorus. ‘Sincerely!’

From Leonard Cohen: Porridge? Lozenge? Syringe? by Adrian Deevoy. Q, 1991.

Also see Leonard Cohen Delivers Frederick Knight’s Be For Real “with a very proper sense of how to treat such material: i.e. with the utmost respect”

Credit Due Department: Be For Real cover atop this post contributed by Dominique BOILE.

Rebecca De Mornay Invokes Gandhi In Beauty Tip To Leonard Cohen; Leonard Responds


How do you maintain your pure & rosy complexion?

Leonard Cohen to Rebecca De Mornay

In 1993, Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter and poet who was perhaps the world’s greatest interviewee, switched roles to interview Rebecca De Mornay, the gorgeous movie actress who was, for a time, Mr. Cohen’s fiancée. The following excerpt is from From Knowing Rebecca de Mornay Like Only Leonard Cohen Can by Leonard Cohen with William Claxton. Interview magazine. June 1, 1993:

Leonard Cohen: How do you maintain your pure and rosy complexion?

Rebecca De Mornay: What’s inside really reflects outside, there’s no question. I’m happy to know that, having been through considerable difficulties when things were really bad–in terms of my career, in terms of experiencing the death of someone I loved very deeply, in terms of different wounds and scars inflicted on me–and suddenly feeling the seed of bitterness rolling around in my mouth and thinking, Oh my God, here it is, it’s on my tongue. Don’t bite into it, whatever you do. Spit it out. ‘Cause if you bite into that seed, you’re lost, and, incidentally, your face will show it.

Leonard Cohen: That’s a wonderful beauty secret. I intend to use it.

Rebecca De Mornay: You always wanted to be more beautiful, huh? You want a tip?

Leonard Cohen: Yes, I do.

Rebecca De Mornay: O.K., let me tell you: to be more beautiful, Leonard, you have to be happier. Gandhi said–I have it on my bulletin board–that happiness is when what you say, what you think, and what you do are in harmony.

Leonard Cohen: I’ve heard he also chewed a root, rauwolfia, that grows by the side of Indian roads and is used to treat hypertension. That probably helped him a great deal in achieving this harmonious balance of which you speak.

Rebecca De Mornay: [laughs] You’ve got to find some fly in the ointment, don’t you?

How To Think About Music By David Goza – Featuring Allison Crowe’s Cover Of Hallelujah By Leonard Cohen

David Goza, Visiting Associate Professor of Music at University of Oklahoma, offers this video as Lesson 1 of How To Think About Music.

From the YouTube description:

I’m starting a new educational series to give my students some ways to think about music, and I’ll probably post them here from time to time. This one involves a heartbreakingly beautiful performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” by Allison Crowe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIMOd…). I’m not sure this posting will pass copyright infringement muster. I certainly mean no harm in posting it, and have nothing but admiration for Ms. Crowe’s extraordinary artistry.

Thanks to Adrian du Plessis, the personable manager of Allison Crowe, who alerted me to this videoo,

“[Leonard Cohen has] an impeccable ear and he stays open and aware during the whole creative process” Anjani Thomas Tells How Her Undertow Background Track Was Changed To Lead Vocal During Recording Session

I fell in love with Undertow the first time I heard it. There was no vocal on it, just a melody with the saxophone sound. I don’t know how Leonard came up with the pizzicato string part, but it was so gorgeous I thought at first I’d double it with my voice…another case of getting to the studio and forgoing preplanned ideas. The song was in Leonard’s key, so I never thought I’d be doing the lead on it. The bg [background] session started as usual, with me singing a harmony. When we played it back Leonard loved it so much that he made it the lead vocal, and his track was used as an effect to remind you of the murmuring sea. I thought it was so bold of him to go with a whole new plan for the vocal. But he’s got an impeccable ear and he stays open and aware during the whole creative process. There aren’t many musicians who will change the entire melody as the song is being recorded. As a result, there’s a lead vocal that haunts you because you never get the satisfaction of coming to a melodic rest in the tonic; and that musical movement supports the themes of desolation and eventual surrender in the lyric.quotedown2

Anjani Thomas


From Interview With Anjani at Dear Heather

Video Treat From Final Leonard Cohen Show (Auckland 2013) – I Tried To Leave You & Save The Last Dance For Me

Worthy of special note is Roscoe adding a little Irving Berlin (“Dancing Cheek to Cheek”) to “I Tried to Leave You.”

Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You
& Save The Last Dance For Me

Auckland: Dec 21, 2013
Video by Henry Tengelsen (aka Wirebirds)

Thanks to Linda Sturgess, who alerted me to Roscoe’s musical exploits. Originally posted January 8, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric