Video: Leonard Cohen Reveals Mafia Affiliation & More – 1972


Leonard Cohen belaagd in België
[Leonard Cohen Attacked In Belgium]

The same blog maintenance chore that resulted in the recovery of the Leonard Cohen & The Lennettes Take Manhattan & This Waltz – Belgium 1988 video also led to the retrieval of “Leonard Cohen Attacked In Belgium,” a 1972 video (3 min, 18 sec) featuring Leonard Cohen – ah, well, let’s call it Leonard Cohen “interacting” with journalists while a recording of “Famous Blue Raincoat” plays, obscuring much of the conversation.

The surviving fragments of the questions and answers, however, are uniformly confrontational with Cohen determinedly avoiding straight answers. As Cohen explains at the end, “Well, I’m part of the mafia, and they’re hard to deal with.”

During the brief session, Cohen informs the assembled reporters that he

  • “never talk[s] about religion”
  • “never hated journalists, come to think of it”
  • espouses the political slogan “kill the killers”
  • refused to accept a literary award in 1969 because “sometimes you feel like a fool for getting a prize”1

Also appearing near the beginning of the video is Bob Johnston (shown in above screen capture), producer and keyboardist for Leonard Cohen during the 1972 Tour.

Note: If the embedded video player does not work in your browser, view the video at its host site: Cobra


  1. The award Cohen declined was the Governor General’s Literary Award. According to The Governor General’s Literary Awards by John H. Meier, Jr,. (McMaster University: Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing),
    In 1969 poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen declined the award for his winning collection, Selected Poems 1956-1968 (1968). According to the Globe and Mail (28 May 1969, p. 6), Cohen would not accept the honour because “the world is a callous place and he would take no gift from it.” On the night of the award ceremony, he partied at Jack McClelland’s hotel room with fellow authors and declared: “I would like to be Governor-General” (Globe and Mail, 17 May 1969, Entertainment and Travel section, p. 25). []

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