“The more personal you get [in songwriting] the more universal the application.” Leonard Cohen 1976

With such personal lyrics it seems that the songs must serve some psychological function, probably cathartic, but Cohen says no, seeing himself as a tradesman pure and simple.

“I don’t know what it is. It becomes your work, one of the few things you know how to do, especially as you get older. The premise, when I examine it – and I don’t examine it too often – I’ve always felt that the more personal you get, the more universal the application, rather than the other way around.

“If you begin to address yourself to the masses like that, then I suppose you could have a hit, but to me the more accurate you get about your situation, then the more accessible it is to other people.

From Cohen Down The Road By Karl Dallas, Melody Maker, May 22, 1976. Found at Reality Now! Originally posted April 9, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

One Reply to ““The more personal you get [in songwriting] the more universal the application.” Leonard Cohen 1976”

  1. Klaus Offermann

    Research supports what Leonard Cohen appeared to intuit: the personal is the universal.
    I think Leonard’s insight was correct because human biology seems to be built to empathize with the “other” and human neurology seems to be wired to mirror the “others” experience.

    Compare Leonard’s comments in the article above, with the following excerpts from the latest iteration of research in the New Scientist of Dec.7th 2016:

    “..you implant your thoughts into another person’s brain quite easily, simply by telling them what you are thinking or remembering..” “.. at the same time, they imagine it.”

    “.. for specific memories we share distinct brain patterns, almost like fingerprints. This evolved to enable us and our evolutionary ancestors to instantly understand and empathize with one another..”

    Clearly, if Leonard did not follow the science, he grokked the concepts anyway. Thanks for a fascinating post.

    New Scientist, Dec.7th 2016 “Our Brains Record And Remember Things In Exactly The Same Way”: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23231034-600-sherlock-holmes-shows-memories-have-a-common-fingerprint/