When & why did you begin writing about Leonard Cohen?
Well, at the end of the 70s I started to attend rock concerts. I saw Leonard Cohen live in concert the very first time in 1976. Later on, I saw him live on stage on each of his German tours. As a student I was working for newspapers, magazines and radio-stations. I was starting to do interviews with popular music artists. I met Leonard Cohen the very first time on his 1985 “Various Positions” Tour. In those days, there was no book about that wonderful Canadian rock poet in Germany. The idea to write a book on him was born. I Interviewed Leonard in 1987 and 1988, and “So Long, Leonard”- the first book in German about Leonard Cohen – was published in 1990.
At this time I was totally thrilled by Leonard`s music, lyrics and spoken word. In fact. I decided to do a tour-documentary in 1993. The result was my second book on Leonard called “Leonard Cohen – Un homage,” which was published in 1995/ 1996 in both German and French. And, at the same time I worked on a biography titled “Partisan der Liebe.” In those days, these were the only books on Leonard Cohen written in German.
I always loved writing about, photographing, and documenting the great singer-songwriter`s work and life. Books are always projects with a definite end. Books can`t tell the whole story’ editors restrict, shorten, and reduce copy, so each of my books was missing one more aspects. So, once I published a book, I began working on the next one.
In 2002 the next book was “Songs of a life,” which described each Leonard Cohen album and supplied the lyrics.
In 2010, I wrote another biography called “Titan der Worte”, which told the story of Leonard Cohen so far, including the “The Grand Tour.”
Now, in 2016, I will publish “Zen & Poesie – Das Leonard Cohen –Lexikon” (Zen & Poetry – The Leonard Cohen Encyclopedia”), a book based on my online-files I’ve archived since 1996 at www.cohenpedia.de,
How did you begin your online Leonard Cohen work?
My “online LC work” started in 1995, when Jarkko Arjatsalo asked me to share some material for his leonardcohenfiles.com
Still today on the home page of leonardcohenfiles.com is my 1994 photo of Leonard Cohen which I shot on the roof of Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg. Right after that shooting, I joined a conversation between Leonard Cohen and Andrew Eldritch, leader and founder of the band “Sisters Of Mercy”. This conversation was initiated by my friend Günther Rammoser. The interview is published in my book “Partisan der Liebe.”
One year later, I went online, too. America Online (AOL) was one of the first providers in Germany those days in 1996. In the night, when I came back from a David Bowie-concert on juin 22nd 1996 at the Loreley Festival in Germany, it was my first “online-night” and I started the very first Leonard Cohen-Website in German, hosted on an aol.members.com site, which was limited to a maximum of 2 megabytes. That site was the predecessor of www.leonardcohen.de (including already a small encyclopedia called “cohenpedia”) which followed soon – because those 2 megabytes proved a bit inadequate for all the material, I wanted to post. Those days I was connected to the Leonard Cohen Web Ring and worked with Jarkko Arjatsalo (Finland), Marie Mazur (USA) and Patrice Close (France) to support the “Field Commander Cohen,” “Ten New Songs,” “The Essential Leonard Cohen,” and the “Dear Heather” albums in a special collaboration between 2001 and 2004.
About that time, I started a cooperative venture with Sony Music Germany. Those days, when web 1.0 changed to web 2.0, Sony had no Leonard Cohen website of their own, and they asked me to cooperate, which was great honor of course. Although Sony later launched their own Cohen site we maintain a cooperative arrangement.
On my www.leonardcohen.de sites I cooperate with many friends like Jarkko, Marie, Patrice and many more. In the last decade I found out that WordPress is the best software for my online-work and I started a new section of www.leonardcohen.de called www.cohenpedia.de. Meanwhile www.cohenpedia.de is getting an online magazine about everything that has to do with Leonard`s work & life and related singer-songwriters in the form of an encyclopedia called “The Cohenpedia.” It also includes a blog called blog.leonard.cohen.de with several weekly postings.
June of 2016 ,marked the 20th anniversary of my online coverage of Leonard Cohen`s work & life.
How do you view the connection between your work that appears in print (books & articles) and that appears online?
After all those years, writing about Leonard Cohen, I see my online and offline work as an unit. The main difference is that newspapers, magazines, and even books always inflict restrictions, but internet space is unlimited. So on internet sites, you can publish bigger versions of articles.
We all live in a very fast changing world right now. We all experience how the Internet has changed and continues to change our lives. It`s nothing new that there is good and evil in the internet. But after all these years online and offline, I have started to love the anti-acceleration in the internet, that`s why I start to use a WordPress blog in addition to my www.cohenpedia.de
In that blog I write about everything which has to do with Leonard Cohen and singer-songwriters whose works are based on his songs. I also write about new products and share information as a magazine does. And I can do that in way newspapers or magazines can’t because of their space limitations.
What differentiates your various sites?
Actually, the main-site is www.cohenpedia.de (it still includes the very old, former www.leonardcohen.de files, which I’ve never deleted). So the “so-called old” – www.leonardcohen.de – site is just the home page to link to the “so called “new” – www.cohenpedia.de files.
www.cohenpedia.de is a work in progress and contains much of the content of my books and more. www.cohenpedia.de is an encyclopedia of he life & work of Leonard Cohen. It contains lyrics in English & German, interviews, tour dates, stories, anecdotes, photos and even information about related singer-songwriters. www.cohenpedia.de will never be finished. It is an ongoing “lexicon,” “dictionary,” and “encyclopedia” which is updated and upgraded several times a week. Since Leonard`s 8oth Birthday in 2014 there has been a blog, which you find under blog.leonardcohen.de. The blog contains more than 500 postings so far.
Here you find the updates and upgrades of www.cohenpedia.de as well as podcasts and the “Leonard Cohen-E-Letter.”
Part 2 of Celebrating The 20th Anniversary Of Christof Graf’s Online Leonard Cohen Resources will follow soon.
Chrisof Graf Biography: Prof. Dr. Christof Graf (born 1963) lives in Zweibrücken/ Germany. He serves as Professor of Media Sciences & Management at an university of corporate education in Neunkirchen/Saar (Germany), journalist, radio, print and online media contributor. He has authored several books and articles on Leonhard Cohen and Bob Dylan (Zen & Poesie, Titan der Worte, Partisan der Liebe, etc.).