1988 Video: Leonard Cohen Talks About Lorca, His Favorite Color, Robertson Davies, I’m Your Man Cover Art, Poetry, Favourite Game … & Teaches Thumb Wrestling

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This is a wonderful video that offers trivia, insights, entertainment (including a host flummoxed by Leonard Cohen’s unanticipated answers to her queries), and even a bit or two of wisdom. Specific items discussed include the following:

  • The origins and significance of the I’m Your Man album cover art
  • The meaning of “They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within” in First We Take Manhattan
  • Leonard’s favorite color: Yellow
  • Leonard’s favorite writer: Robertson Davies1
  • The impact of Federico García Lorca on Leonard Cohen
  • Leonard’s favorite game: Thumb-wrestling (also see “Thumb Wrestling” section of The Favourite Games Of Leonard Cohen – Part 2)
  • The feelings embedded in The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
  • Leonard’s notion of the title “poet”
  • Leonard’s assertion that wisdom comes with laughter or a sense of entertainment (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount had to be expressed with drama)

Viewing The Video

The video cannot be embedded and, indeed, is difficult to locate. To find it, go to  VIDEO Leonard Cohen ”tommel-bryder” DR-vært under 1988-interview, a screenshot of which is shown below. The large video at the top comprises only the thumb-wrestling portion of the interview. To see the full interview, scroll down the page to the video marked by the red circle in the screenshot.

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  1. A personal favorite of DrHGuy; see Elegant Eulogies: Robertson Davies On “The Great Theatre of Life” []

Video: Leonard Cohen, Poet-Singer-Songwriter-Mixologist, Recreates His Red Needle Drink On TV

Leonard Cohen Creates The Red Needle

This is the end of my life in art. I am drinking a Red Needle, a drink I invented in Needles, California, tequila and cranberry, lemon and ice. The full measure. I have not been denied the full measure. It happened as I approached my forty-first birthday…. This is drunken talk. This is Red Needles talking. It is too smooth. I am frightened. I don’t know why. Yesterday I was so frightened that I could hardly hand a Red Needle to a monk on Mt Baldy….1

I prepared a lot of Red Needles. That’s a cocktail I invented in Needles, California, in 1976. It consists of tequila and cranberry juice and Sprite and fresh cut fruit. I prepared pitchers of this cocktail for the musicians and we couldn’t stop playing; most of the takes are twenty-five minutes long, and we kept this one because it’s eight minutes long. I did fall down in it, that’s where the guitar solo occurs. It was a very exuberant, passionate evening, and several musicians told me it was the happiest time they ever spent in a recording studio.2

Continue Reading →

  1. From Leonard Cohen, ‘My Life in Art,’ from Death of a Lady’s Man []
  2. From Barbara Gowdy Interview With Leonard Cohen A transcript of the full interview was published in 1994 in the book “One on One: The Imprint Interviews” edited by Leanna Crouch and published by Somerville House Publishing []

Hear Leonard Cohen Recite 6 Poems & Talk About The Book of Longing, Roshi, Irving Layton, Aging ….

booklonginxgIn May 2006, Shelagh Rogers interviewed Leonard Cohen about his just published collection of poetry, Book Of Longing. In addition to touching on a number of topics, including his stay at the Mt Baldy Zen monastery, Leonard reads the following poems:

  • Layton’s Question
  • Fun
  • Only One Thing Made Him Happy
  • Disturbed This Morning
  • Fun
  • Titles

Leonard Cohen on The Book Of Longing
CBC Interview with Shelagh Rogers: May 2006

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Hear Classic 1988 Leonard Cohen Interview: How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns

Shure_mikrofon_55S-700This is an extraordinary interview that includes this quotation that I consider the touchstone of Leonard Cohen’s perspective:

That’s what it’s all about. It says that none of this – you’re not going to be able to work this thing out – you’re not going to be able to set – this realm does not admit to revolution – there’s no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say ‘Look, I don’t understand a fucking thing at all – Hallelujah! That’s the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.

The following description is from Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988 at the RTE site:

From the RTÉ archives: Kildare-born novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist and former RTÉ radio producer John MacKenna made two feature programmes in the RTÉ Radio Centre with Leonard Cohen in 1988, entitled ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’. Together, they offer a remarkable insight to Cohen’s life and work. Below, you can listen to them both in full. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Note: A transcript of this broadcast is available at Transcript: 1988 RTE (LeonardCohenFiles)

The first programme ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’ is entitled ‘Isaac to Joan of Arc’ in which Cohen discusses his interest in and attitude to heroic figures in history. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Programme 2 is entitled ‘If I Have Been Untrue’  and considers songs about people in the street. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post “Shure mikrofon 55S” by Holger.EllgaardOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About Songwriting, Poetry & Zen – 2007 Interview

lcfileLeonard Cohen speaks to Mark Lawson in a rare interview from 2007

This is a solid, albeit not spectacular interview, coming in 2007 while the 2008 Tour was in planning. Contents include:

  • The recently published Book Of Longing
  • A Thousand Kisses Deep as an example of a poem that became a song
  • Cohen’s use of notebooks
  • Suzanne as an example of a song in which the chords preceded the lyrics
  • Cohen’s realization that his “voice sounds better surrounded by female voices”
  • The translation of Take This Waltz
  • The Dylan anecdote about the time it takes him and the time it takes Cohen to write a song
  • Cohen’s use of a rhyming dictionary to prime his mind
  • Cohen’s admiration of rappers as the modern masters of rhyme
  • The notion that the ear is delighted by rhymes and near rhymes
  • The use of “go clear” and its Scientology reference in Famous Blue Raincoat
  • Cohen’s use of Christian references
  • Leonard Cohen’s fascination with many forms of religion
  • The journalistic approach to songwriting
  • Cohen’s relationship with Roshi
  • The reasons Cohen entered the Zen monastery
  • The lack of encouragement in childhood to be writer
  • Planning the 2008 tour
  • Cohen’s stage fright and the consequent drinking
  • The embezzlement of his funds

Credit Due Department: I discovered this interview in a Facebook post by Gordana Stupar

Videos: Leonard Cohen Fond Of Denmark – And Denmark Seems To Like Him, Too (1993)

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Gordana Stupar directs our attention to Leonard in Denmark, 1993: 2 videos with short interviews from Danish TV archives, focusing on the mutual admiration between Denmark and Leonard.