Leonard Cohen on the obsolescence of descriptions like conservative, liberal… “in the face of the catastrophe that everybody’s really dealing with”

In 1993, when Leonard Cohen appeared on the BBC TV show, Later with Jools Holland, the host asked if he believed he was an optimistic person. Leonard’s reply is as pertinent, penetrating, and powerful today as it was then.

Everybody’s kind of hanging onto their broken orange crate in the flood, and when you pass someone else, to declare yourself an optimist or a pessimist, or pro-abortion or against abortion, or a conservative or a liberal, these descriptions are obsolete in the face of the catastrophe that everybody’s really dealing with.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Originally posted January 25, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“You’ve got to recreate your personality so that you can live a life appropriate to your station and predicament.” Leonard Cohen On Dealing With Depression

It sounds like there were times you felt pretty close to going under.

It’s just a matter of how prone you are to real mental disorder. It’s true that certain suffering is educational. It’s true that experience is important. That artists have an unstable psychic nature and sometimes it’s valuable. All these things that you’ve heard about writing, about the artist, are true. But a lot of people spend most of their life in acute pain. And it breaks some people. I was no stranger to depression and many distressed kinds of states, but at a certain point it really wasn’t funny. And at that point you have to start being what the Christians call ‘born again.’ You’ve got to recreate your personality so that you can live a life appropriate to your station and predicament. And having illusions makes it very difficult to create an appropriate self.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988.

Leonard Cohen & Depression

A summary of the clinical depression from which Leonard Cohen can be found at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution

One Possible Reason Leonard Cohen Switched From Poetry To Pop Music – Poetry Doesn’t Pay

The following excerpt about the 1960 Foster Poetry Conference is from The Foster Poetry Conference at Fifty:

On 12 Oct 1963, John Glassco’s Foster Poetry Conference opened at the Glen Mountain Ski Chalet. With Glassco, F.R. Scott, A.J.M. Smith, Irving Layton, Louis Dudek, Ralph Gustafson, Eldon Grier, D. G. Jones, Leonard Cohen, Leonard Angel, Kenneth Hetrz, Henry Moscowitz and Seymour Mayne, it remains the greatest gathering of Quebec’s English-language poets. Three days of poetry, comradeship and drink, even the most subdued reports paint it as a great success. Scott was so fired by the experience that he pressured Glassco to edit the proceedings for McGill University Press…

Glassco discovered that he’d been saddled with the task of distributing payments to the twenty contributors. The irritation was only compounded by the small sums. Leonard Cohen received three dollars, barely enough to purchase a copy of the book.

Originally posted Feb 15, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show” Leonard Cohen

Among Leonard Cohen’s most effective skills as a wordsmith is his capacity to transform a phrase from the vernacular into an elegant and appealing lyric that resonates with his audience. Today’s featured quotation is an example of this technique; it is not, however, a line from a Leonard Cohen poem, novel, or song. As far as I can determine, the first time “The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show,” was published was in a Feb 24, 2009 New York Times interview, Leonard Cohen Returns to the Road, for Reasons Both Practical and Spiritual by Larry Rohter.

In 2015 (when I first posted about this phenomenon), this remark became, according to my incredibly unscientific social media monitoring, the second most popular Leonard Cohen quotation on Twitter (the most popular continues to be “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” from Anthem) as well as being well represented on other platforms. Clearly, these words articulate an idea that responds to our unspoken and often unrecognized concerns.

1972 Leonard Cohen Concert Migrates From Tielt To Brussels


Cohen Concert Schedules Flexible In The 1970s

ad-vintage-76-french-2-toufixrIn response to the previously published post featuring an ad (click on graphic on right to enlarge) for Leonard Cohen’s June 1976 concert dates, all but three of which were changed by the time the shows actually took place, Francis Mus1 offers another story of an ad for a Leonard Cohen concert that was never held – or, more accurately, that was held in a different city.

DrHGuy Note: The content and images that followed are from Francis Mus. I have reorganized and edited the text and cleaned up the graphics.

Brussels Replaces Tielt On 1972 Cohen Tour

The advertisement atop this post promotes an April 16, 1972 Leonard Cohen concert in Tielt, Belgium. Leonard Cohen did play a concert on that date but it was finally held in Brussels.

The Mentally Disturbed Red Herring

The Tielt concert was announced in the media. This is a quote (translation by Francis Mus) from the April 7, 1972 edition of Zie-magazine, a Dutch language periodical:

He asks one million for an evening, but for mentally disturbed persons he sings for free.

A meeting with the legendary Leonard Cohen, who performs in Tielt on April 16th.



The juxtaposition of these sentences has led some readers to infer that Leonard Cohen planned to perform for psychiatric patients in Tielt.2

Communications with the organizer of the event and with representatives of local psychiatric institutions, however, have confirmed that the concert in Tielt was not intended to have been held in a mental health facility but was to have been a concert in a commercial venue with a routine population mix in the audience.

In summation, there was no Leonard Cohen concert of any kind in Tielt.

So, Why Post This?

Well, discovering how any industry, whether it be concert tours or medical diagnostics, used car sales or art auctions, actually works is  interesting, — at least to me.

And, this event and the 1976 ad offer a historical perspective for the same problems that persist today, such as the 2012 venue switch that moved Leonard Cohen concerts from Hop Farms To Wembley Arena, triggering much consternation, many complaints, and even a comment from Cohen himself during his Sept 8, 2012 Concert at Wembley Arena in London:

I want you to know I learned about it [the venue switch] the same time you did. There are unseen hands that manipulate the marketplace. Hands that I never get to see…or crush.3


Finally, I have respect for researchers like Francis Mus  and others I’ve met because of a shared interest in Leonard Cohen who understand the importance of writing accurate histories, knowing what happened, when and where it happened, and, if possible, why it happened as it did. This was an opportunity to provide a sense of the effort involved in accumulating such information.

Originally posted Feb 15, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. Francis Mus was responsible for “I’m Still Trying To Find My Song” – Francis Mus Interviews Roscoe Beck []
  2. Leonard Cohen did perform for patients in psychiatric institutions, including a a gig in 1970 just before the Isle of Wight. As previously posted at Leonard Cohen & Babies, Therapy, Covers, Lyrics, Roberta Flack, Jian Ghomeshi, 1993, …:

    One afternoon in 1970, John (not his real name), a resident, put a suggestion to the writers’ group at the Henderson, a therapeutic community in Sutton for people with personality disorder. The group had been on a visit to The Times and had been inspired to improve their newsletter, Chicken Quill. “Why not inject some energy into this place by inviting Leonard Cohen to do a concert?” asked John. It would give them a good front page for the next issue.

    Leonard Cohen played in the very large room with church windows within the tower. There were half a dozen musicians and two female singers.  They stayed for two to three hours. There were about 40-45 in the audience, made up of staff and patients. []

  3. Quoted in Leonard Cohen brings ‘Old Ideas’ to London’s Wembley Arena. NME: September 9, 2012 []

“It was only when you walked away I saw you had the perfect ass… ” Leonard Cohen

It was only when you walked away I saw you had the perfect ass. Forgive me for not falling in love with your face or your conversation.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen
The Energy Of Slaves

Leonard Cohen On Sighting The Perfect Ass & Other Poems1
The Apollo in Glasgow: May 15, 1976
Video by Allan Showalter

The image atop this post is the back cover of The Energy Of Slaves (1972). Contributed by Dominique BOILE. Originally posted February 5, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. These poems are in the concert setlist:
    11. I did not know until you walked away…
    12. Come down to my room…
    13. A person who eats meat
    14. Valentina gave me four months…
    15. I know there is no such thing as hell or heaven…
    16. the 15-year old girls…
    17. The Music Crept by Us
    18. It’s Good to Sit with People… []