Video: Complete 2012 PEN Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award Ceremony: Leonard Cohen & Chuck Berry

penawardThis video of the entire 2012 PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award automatically begins with Salman Rushdie’s introduction of Leonard Cohen, “At The Level Of The Line,”  which is followed by Shawn Colvin singing Leonard Cohen’s “Come Healing,” the Rusdie-Cohen kissing, and Leonard Cohen’s acceptance speech.

PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award – John F Kennedy Library, February  26, 2012 (Uploaded by Maarten Massa)

Note: Originally posted February 27, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Songs of Leonard Cohen Wins Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize (Jury Vote)1960-1975

slaight-heritage-prizeThe Polaris Prize Facebook Page has announced that Leonard Cohen has won the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize jury vote for the period of 1960-1975 for the album Songs of Leonard Cohen


The Heritage Prize is an offshoot of the Polaris Prize. It is our version of a Hall of Fame for Canadian albums. It attempts to answer the question “what would have won or been nominated for Polaris before it started in 2006?” It is a music obsessive bar room conversation come to life.

How it works is a select group of Canadian music media and historians gather together each year to create a vote-curated list of 10 Short List-nominated albums per era. Two albums per era, one chosen by public vote and one chosen by juror vote, will be designated as Heritage Prize winners each year.

The other 1960-1975 nominees follow:

  • The Band: Music From Big Pink (1968)
  • The Band: The Band (1969)
  • Robert Charlebois & Louise Forestier: Lindberg (1968)
  • Gordon Lightfoot: Lightfoot! (1966)
  • Joni Mitchell: Court And Spark (1974)
  • The Oscar Peterson Trio: Night Train (1963)
  • Jackie Shane: Live! (1967)
  • Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
  • Neil Young: After The Gold Rush (1970)

For more information, see Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize

An Analysis Of Qualities Common To Musicians Who Win Literary Awards: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, & Chuck Berry

lc-db-bd1200When Bob Dylan became the first pop musician awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, I recalled that Leonard Cohen was the first pop musician to win the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature (2011) and Cohen and Chuck Berry were the inaugural recipients (in 2012) of the  PEN New England  Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.1

In his PEN Award acceptance speech, Leonard Cohen claimed he and Chuck Barry were chosen as the first recipients of the honor on “the basis of seniority.”  As I pointed out in a Feb 2012 post, I hesitate to disagree with this site’s icon of choice, but I am obligated to point out that he – and the many periodicals, broadcast stations, and online sites reporting on this event – have inexplicably overlooked two other rather obvious attributes common to him and the Father of Rock and Roll that were either coincidences on a cosmic scale or, one must assume, weighed in the judges’ decision to confer this honor upon them:

  1. Signature hats
  2. Bolo ties

And, the naming of Bob Dylan as Nobel Laureate further supports this observation. Check out the composite photo atop this post: three literary award-winning musicians who are senior artists adorned with bolo ties and distinctive headgear.

How To Win A Major Literary Award As A Musician

So, for all you aspiring literary award winners, Cohencentric  offers these recommendations based on the Cohen-Dylan-Berry Criteria:

  1. Do not, advice from The Who notwithstanding, die before you get old.
  2. Wear a hat that fits your style.
  3. Drape a nifty bolo tie around your neck.
  4. Write exquisite song lyrics.

Credit Due Department: Leonard Cohen photo by Ashley Tanasiychuk. Chuck Berry photo by Masahiro Sumori – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia. Bob Dylan photo by Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz – Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia


  1. Wouldn’t you think that an organization of “poets, playwrights, essayists, editors, and novelists” could come up with a name for their prize that flows off the tongue more trippingly than “The PEN New England  Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award?” []

Bob Dylan Congratulates PEN Lyrics Award Winners Chuck Berry “Shakespeare Of Rock And Roll” & Leonard Cohen “Kafka Of The Blues”

To Chuck, the Shakespeare of rock and roll, congratulations on your PEN award, that’s what too much monkey business will get ya . . . Say hello to Mr. Leonard, Kafka of the blues, and Lord Byron Keith [Richards] if he shows up. In all seriousness, Chuck, congratulations on this prestigious honor. You have indeed written the book with a capital B, and congratulations to Leonard, who’s still writing it

Bob Dylan writing on the occasion of the 26 February 2012 PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award Ceremony

Note: “Too Much Monkey business” refers to Berry’s song of the same name.

Chuck Berry – Too Much Monkey Business

\Note: Originally posted Feb 27, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

2013 Juno Awards: “Songwriter Of The Year pits Leonard Cohen against, well, people daring to be in a songwriter competition against Leonard Cohen.”

I’ve extracted and highlighted the Cohen-pertinent portions from Juno Awards 2013 by Joshua Ostroff. Huffington Post: Feb 19, 2013:

If you ever needed evidence of the diversity in Canadian music – or the fact that the Junos can be a bit of an Oprah “You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!” love-in – you couldn’t do better than the Juno Fan Choice category, which bundles together Drake, Carly Rae Jepsen, Metric, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Leonard Cohen, Marianas Trench, Michael Buble, Nickelback and Hedley. … That said, both legendary oldsters got shut out of the Album of the Year prize, despite Cohen’s number one debut for “Old Ideas.”

Cohen did, however, get a nominee for Artist of the Year alongside Jepsen and Bieber as well as EDM overlord Deadmau5 and Irish-Canadian country singer Johnny Reid.

Songwriter of the year pits Leonard Cohen against, well, people daring to be in a songwriter competition against Leonard Cohen. Kathleen Edwards, Bahamas, Hannah Georgas and Arkells are all great songwriters, but this one should already be on Cohen’s mantle.

Adam Cohen, Leonard’s son, also got a Juno nomination for the awards newest category Adult Contemporary, though he’s facing off against Celine Dion so, uh, bonne chance.

A complete list of all 2013 Juno Award nominees can be found at Brooklyn Vegan

Update: Leonard Cohen was indeed named Juno Artist Of The Year and Juno Songwriter Of The Year for 2013. See Leonard Cohen Adds Songwriter Of The Year Title To Artist Of The Year At 2013 Juno Awards

Note: Originally posted February 19, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Named 2008 Montreal’s Best Singer/Songwriter, Most Desirable Man, Best-Dressed Man, & Best Local Living Author – But Only #2 in “Closest To Sainthood”

In the 19th Annual Best Of Montreal Readers Poll (2008), voters selected Leonard Cohen the Best Singer/Songwriter, Most Desirable Man, Best-Dressed, and  Best Local Living Author.  He ranked only #2, however, in the category, “Closest To Sainthood.”1


I’ll leave the interpretation of these findings to the reader.


  1. Source: Montreal Mirror – Best of Montreal 2008 (Update: no longer online) []