You would see the line of women standing at the hotel door, and I didn’t want to join that line. I wanted a piece of Leonard’s heart, which he didn’t give away casually. So I dug in my heels and I tended to the music whenever he wanted me there. That sustained our friendship for nearly 50 years. Leonard told me once that the most important person in your life might not be your significant other, or your parent, but a special teacher. There is no doubt in my mind that Leonard came to teach. He heard his inner voices clearly. One thing he always said was that he writes and writes and then discards the slogans. Isn’t that nice? That’s probably the way to get to your truth: Look for the difficult answers. Peel all the artifice away from yourself and your writing, and what remains is the news you need to bring forward. No matter how long it takes to heal ourselves and our country, Leonard Norman Cohen, that beautiful Canadian teacher, lover and revolutionary, has left us with tools we can really use. If only we could hear the song within him, now.
From Remembering Leonard Cohen: Close Friends, Collaborators & Critics on How He Changed Music Forever by Sasha Frere-Jones (Billboard: November 17, 2016). The photo was a gift from Jennifer Warnes.