Lost 1972 Leonard Cohen Interview Found


Back in Dec 2013, Peter Torbijn from the Netherlands discovered an interview with Leonard Cohen that took place in London at the beginning of the 1972 Europe tour. The interview, translated from English into Dutch, was published  in the March 29, 1972 edition of OOR, the Dutch music newspaper. An internet search and a survey of several Cohen experts disclosed no references to the original interview in English, let alone the article itself. In the belief that an English to Dutch to English translation of the article would be better than no English version of the article, Peter, with the help of his wife Marion and his son Lennard, translated the article from Dutch into English to make it accessible for this site’s readers. I provided final editing into vernacular English. The product of that effort can be found at Lost 1972 Leonard Cohen Interview Restored “I get letters from people who say my songs helped them through the night…That is exactly why they were written.”

A little less than five years later, Gordana Stupar has discovered the original article: The Cohen Songs You’ll Never Hear, by Roy Hollingworth, Melody Maker, March 5, 1972.

Gordana also provided her transcription of the first page of the article. Feel free to compare and contrast this original version with the previously posted double-translation.

The Cohen Songs You’ll Never Hear
By Roy Hollingworth
Melody MakerL March 5, 1972

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Outstanding 1992 Leonard Cohen Interview Online Again

cocWonderful News: This especially thoughtful, intriguing, and – well, delightful Leonard Cohen interview, which had disappeared, is online again. It offers great anecdotes and the chance to hear some favorite Cohen quotes in Leonard’s own voice – including

People change and their bodies change… Bodies decay and die, but there is something that doesn’t change about love… Marianne… when I hear her voice on the telephone, I know something is completely intact even though our lives have separated and we’ve gone our very different paths. I feel that love never dies, and that when there is an emotion strong enough to gather a song around it, that there is something about that emotion that is indestructible.

All those guys that I listen to you know – from Lead Belly to Dylan to Ice-T you know they had something in their voice that tells me about their lives, about their true story. I like to hear a guy’s story. …  I want to hear people who can’t sing.

… people get tired of tired of having their souls pressed into various kinds of duty. I think the need for oxygen is perennial. Just Sit back and breath deeply and you’re going to have a different view of the thing’. Relax is what the hippies said. And what the new age says.  Just relax.

A full description of the contents can be found at 1992 Video: Leonard Cohen On His Atrocious Voice, Dylan, Ice-T, Songwriting, Love & Where’s The Beef.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Maarten Massa, who originally alerted me to this great interview.

Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About Poetry, The Soul, & Book Of Mercy + Recite The Captain: 1984 Interview

In June 1984 I sat with Leonard Cohen in his room at the top of Toronto’s Sutton Place Hotel where we talked about his newest collection Book of Mercy. I confessed an uneasiness about love poems because of how often other kinds of love beyond the romantic are overlooked or are treated in a puerile fashion. Not so one poem coming three months after my son’s birth… Even more interesting is what he had to say about poetry and the shift away from traditional lyric to language poetry.

David Godkin’s YouTube Description

A few key quotes from Leonard Cohen’s interview follow:

  • Book of Mercy can only be conceived as a book of prayer… it is different from my other books
  • I’m comfortable [using] the name of God
  • There are many superstitions afoot; one is that there is no soul.
  • You only address the problem of soul when you feel that you’re losing it
  • [Referring to Snow Is Falling by William Carlos Williams] That kind of accuracy is present on every page of Book of Mercy; it’s just about a landscape that’s unfamiliar



Photo by Daniel Bastida.

Listen To NRK Broadcast: If It Be Your Will – Leonard Cohen On Art, Love, & Marianne

First broadcast in January 2006, this interview took place at Leonard’s home in Los Angeles near the end of 2005. Included in the broadcast are a telephone call from Leonard’s daughter, Lorca, a call initiated by Leonard inviting Daniel to dinner, a discussion of the neighbor’s dogs, Leonard sharing food with the interviewer, Leonard’s use of Marianne’s corkscrew, and much about Leonard’s take on men connecting with women, writing poetry and songs, and, of course, Marianne. Leonard Cohen’s portion of the interview is in English, and the remainder of the content is a mix of English and Norwegian (with English translations shown on screen).

Kari Hesthamar Talks About Her Interview With Leonard Cohen

In these excerpts from Behind the Scenes With Kari Hesthamar, Producer Of If It Be Your Will,  Kari Hesthamar explains her notions about why these interviews were especially revelatory as well as providing a few tantalizing clues about the content itself:

.. I think maybe [what is revealing is] everything that is “in between” and also the way that the music is used. He is very verbal, and when he speaks it’s with some of the same quality as you find in his lyrics, it’s just very well put. But I think what maybe works the best is the fact that we’re in his house, we can hear the dogs barking in the garden, he pours me wine with Marianne’s old corkscrew,1 he puts his feet on the table, there’s the Friday night party with family and some close friends where they play guitar and sing: we feel that we’re in his home, close to him, and that it’s not just an interview that could have been done in a studio or in the radio station. He becomes an ordinary man, not just a star. And I’ve tried to make the music and the spoken parts reflect on each other.2

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  1. Cohen having won custody of the corkscrew is sufficient raw material for a number of jokes, none of which, unfortunately, are in keeping with the mood of this post. Maybe another time. []
  2. The editing of the content, to emphasize the dogs barking, the telephone calls, the Friday night dinner, etc. strikes me as another example of the ordinary manipulation that is apparently integral to producing documentaries of stars such as Leonard Cohen. I don’t think it’s harmful or even incongruent with Cohen’s personality or lifestyle. I only wish to acknowledge that what viewers are shown is a carefully selected and edited sequence of events, not a random slice of life. []

Leonard Cohen Identifies Himself As “One Of The First Punks,” Tells Bovine Sex Joke, Talks About Roshi, Nick Cave, Jennifer Warnes, Dominique Issermann, & More – 1988 Video Interview

Topics Covered In Interview With Christian Eckert (Munich 1988):

  • Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man album
  • Post-Modernist Disco
  • Leonard as one of earliest Punk Rockers
  • His young bull/old bull joke
  • Book of Mercy
  • “I don’t have time to think about politics”
  • How Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat rehabilitated him
  • Leonard’s attitude covers of his work
  • Nick Cave rescuing his song “to let it fall apart again”
  • His computer
  • Living in a Portuguese section of Montreal\
  • Roshi
  • Gap between public and private life
  • Critics being on trial
  • Concerns about next tour
  • Dominique Issermann’s direction of First We Take Manhattan video

View video on YouTube

Listen To, Download 1994 BBC Radio 1 Kaleidoscope Interview With Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, Jennifer Warnes, Suzanne Vega Talk About Songwriting & More

The description from BBC Radio follows:

Duration: 28 mins

Songwriter Leonard Cohen reflects on the art of songwriting with the help of collaborator Jennifer Warnes and long time fan Suzanne Vega in this Kaleidoscope special. Cohen tells the stories behind some of his most famous songs and recalls an eventful session with a gun obsessed Phil Spector. Part of Radio 4 on Music, re-releasing the best of Radio 4’s Music Archive.

Listen to this broadcast at the BBC Radio site

MP3 Download

The interview can be played directly from the BBC Radio site (see arrow on screenshot atop this post) but downloading is allowed. Just right click on the following link, choose “save link as,” and download

1994 BBC Radio 1 Interview With Leonard Cohen

Note: Originally posted Jan 31, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Hear Leonard Cohen Recite Poems & Talk About Life At Mt Baldy Zen Center, Writing Lyrics, His Kids… – 1998 Radio Interview

Chris Douridas interviewed Leonard Cohen on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic – March 3, 1998. Highlights include

  • “I’m a bad monk” – Life at Mt Baldy Zen Center, including cooking for Roshi
  • “No existential leap” – Leonard’s recitation of A Thousand Kisses Deep, including a line written that day
  • “The old are kind” – Leonard’s recitation of a quatrain
  • Discussion of Leonard’s participation in the Montreal poets group
  • The public’s belated discovery of Dance Me To The End Of Love
  • Leonard’s painstaking writing style
  • The influence of Mediterranean music
  • The work of his children, Adam & Lorca