Max Layton, Irving Layton’s Son, Talks About Leonard Cohen – Family Friend, Guitar Teacher, & Woman Magnet

The release of Max Layton’s album, “It’s a Mystery to Me,”  in triggered a recounting of his stories about family friend Leonard Cohen.

Guitar Lessons With Leonard Cohen

From Max Layton A Leonard Cohen Approved Album by Don Graham (Cashbox Canada: June 4, 2014)

Max Layton: Leonard would bring his guitar to parties at my parents’ house in Cote St. Luc when I was nine or ten. That’s when I fell in love with the sound of it – and first met him. I remember him showing me how to play E minor ,the simplest two-finger chord, and me taking his guitar upstairs to my bedroom and cradling it in my arms and strumming it quietly while downstairs the partiers got louder. Leonard was a student at McGill and taught me guitar throughout the fall and winter of my 13th year. That would be 1959. My parents had separated by then and I was still living with my mother, Betty Sutherland, aka Boschka, who was an artist. Her painting is on the CD cover. Somehow she managed to buy me a guitar and she traded one of her paintings for the lessons, which consisted of Leonard teaching me chords and various finger-picking techniques. It took about an hour once a week to get downtown by bus, then a long climb carrying my guitar to the top of Mountain St. where Leonard had a bachelor apartment. I remember choking back tears when he told me he had taught me all he could.

A final Leonard Cohen quote of the album. “Max you seem to be in very good shape, unusual confidence in the voice, you got something going Max with these songs.”

Leonard Cohen – “A Magnet Attracting Women”

From Irving Layton Avenue Unveiling (The Chronicle: April 30th 2007)

Max recalls how, at night, he would sneak out of his room and watch from the top of the stairs what the adults were up to. He describes Cohen as being like a “magnet attracting women.” As soon as Cohen stepped into the room, women would swirl around.

“Leonard, in my opinion, is the greatest song writer of our times,” says Max. “He’s the 21st century Jewish psalmist. His songs for me were very religious, beautiful and memorable.”

Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this article by Linda Sturgess

Note: Originally posted Jun 10, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric