The first song we wrote together was called Show Me the Place from 2012’s Old Ideas. It was a Stephen Foster-type melody—that’s how the lyrics struck me. We recorded it, he put a vocal on it, and the next day, he said to me, ‘I wonder if anybody ever asked the guy who wrote Amazing Grace if he had anything else?’ Obviously, I hadn’t written Amazing Grace, but it was him saying, ‘This is good. I like this.’ When I sent him Slow [from 2014’s Popular Problems], he responded with one word: ‘Done!’ And when it wasn’t right—and many, many times it wasn’t—I wouldn’t hear anything. No response. At first I’d say, ‘Hey, did you get what I sent you?’ And then I’d realize the message was loud and clear. Working with Leonard was a collaboration that wasn’t based on a single project. It was ongoing: ‘We’ve got to crack this one”; ‘I’m almost there with this;’ ‘What do you think of this?’ He’d say, ‘Nothing’s wasted because we recycle.’ He left behind so much stuff. Sometimes working with people, you try to accomplish something that you think is going to please them, and you don’t please them, and it creates this shadow of doubt. With Leonard there was never any shadow. He was always like, ‘Try again.’ That’s generous in a way that I’ve never experienced.
Quote from Remembering Leonard Cohen: Close Friends, Collaborators & Critics on How He Changed Music Forever by Sasha Frere-Jones (Billboard: November 17, 2016)