“In the case of Eminem and some of the other rappers, the lyrics are impressive. I think it’s great. I studied and was formed in this tradition that honored the ancient idea of music being declaimed or chanted… to a rhythmic background.” Leonard Cohen

From Cohen on Wry by Michael Krugman (Flaunt: Oct 2001). Photo by DoD News Features141111-D-DB155-046, Public Domain, Link

“I went to a Dylan concert and the first song that was by the opening act was Hallelujah… I’d never heard it before so I went out looking for it. I wound up asking Leonard [Cohen] for the lyrics and he sent me… 15 verses. So I chose all the cheeky verses, the ones that weren’t quite right.” John Cale


Cale earned an unusual hit with his cover [of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah] when it appeared in the 2001 film Shrek, but he had recorded it a decade earlier for the compilation I’m Your Fan. He discovered it in an unusual place. “I went to a Dylan concert and the first song that was by the opening act was ‘Hallelujah’ with a choir,” he recalled. “I’d never heard it before so I went out looking for it. I wound up asking Leonard for the lyrics and he sent me the lyrics: 15 verses. So I chose all the cheeky verses, the ones that weren’t quite right. I couldn’t sing the religious ones. You could tell from the structure of that thing, it was going to be around for a long time.

From John Cale’s Velvet Underground Talk: 10 Things We Learned By Kory Grow (Rolling Stone: October 12, 2018). Photo by Yves Lorson – originally posted to Flickr as John Cale, CC BY 2.0, Link

Note: Cale told his story of first hearing Hallelujah in a 2013 interview but then reported the song was sung by Dylan rather than an opening act: “That’s really a catchy chorus” – John Cale Talks About His Cover Of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

Follow The Yellow Brick Road To The Inspiration Of Leonard Cohen’s Skipping

Investigations Of Leonard Cohen’s Early Influences

For decades, scholars, critics,  and fans  have searched for the definitive influences on Leonard Cohen’s artistry. The style and quality of Cohen’s novels, poetry, and music have been variously attributed to Yeats, country music, Judaism, Montreal’s geographic and social environs, ritualistic Catholicism, parental nurturing, illicit drugs, Irving Layton, local mores, women with whom he has coupled, women who have rejected him, the creative community on Hydra, and scores of other writers, sociological factors, and interpersonal forces. Despite the effort expended, however, the conclusions derived from these explorations have been, at best, generic in scope and, too often, unconvincing.

In retrospect, it is apparent that all examples of this sort of research have shared a common flaw: each of these explorations of Cohen’s fundamental influences has focused exclusively on one category of his work, what we have come to call “the important stuff.”

1HeckOfAGuy/Cohencentric investigations, however, have eluded this seemingly unavoidable, pervasive fault, remaining pristinely uncontaminated by matters smacking of or even approximating significance.

Skipping Study Leads To Breakthrough

Rather than taking the easy way out by examining, for example, metric and rhyme patterns, transformative  shifts in content and prose conventions, or the complex interactions resulting from Leonard Cohen’s friendships and romances, the 1HeckOfAGuy/Cohencentric Research Department approached Cohen’s primary influences by extending its seminal work on On-stage Skipping Behaviors Displayed By 75 Year Old Iconic Canadian Singer-Songwriters (see What Makes Leonard Cohen Run? and 1983 Precursor To Leonard Cohen’s 2008-2013 Concert Skipping Found).

The break came during  the systematic examination of parallel skipping performances by other performers.

To highlight the congruency between the rather elaborate skipping Leonard Cohen has routinely undertaken to leave the stage during the World Tour concerts and the similar choreography implemented by his show business ancestor, the first video shows three of Mr Cohen’s skipping exits set to the music used by his predecessor:

The Back To The Future Version Of The Wizard Of Oz

Even more convincing is a long lost video Heck Of A Guy operatives unearthed from the MGM archives1 which appears to be a projected sequel to The Wizard Of Oz featuring – well, you have to see it for yourselves. Happily, our agents were able to copy and smuggle out this fragment (keep an eye on the Scarecrow at the beginning of the video – the straw dude is really into it):

So, once more, Cohencentric has followed the yellow brick road to offer new insights into the wizard that is Leonard Cohen.

Credit Due Department: The photo of Mr Cohen skipping off the stage displayed atop this post was taken at the April 13, 2013 Halifax concert by J.S.Carenza III

Originally posted Nov 30, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. MGM, which produced Wizard of Oz was purchased by Sony. Guess which talented and iconic Canadian poet, singer-songwriter is under contract to Sony? Happenstance? I think not. []

“Kill Cool” Leonard Cohen

I remember going to the Village because I’d heard that was where the action was. I went to a coffeehouse. There were people sitting around in black sweaters. After about 3 or 4 days of walking around looking for someone to fall in love with and finally looking for just someone to say hello to, I remember finally in desperation writing on my placemat ‘Kill Cool,’ and I held it up in the coffee shop. That’s the way I feel now.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From No Line Before Its Time It Takes Leonard Cohen A While To Find The Right Words – Five Years Of Writing And Revising For Some Of The Songs On His Latest Album by Tom Moon, Philadelphia Inquirer: Nov 26, 1992. Originally posted Sep 10, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Also see: “The notion of cool has been destroying the heart for years…” Leonard Cohen

“Let judges secretly despair of justice: their verdicts will be more acute. Let generals secretly despair of triumph; killing will be defamed. Let priests secretly despair of faith: their compassion will be true.” Leonard Cohen


Excerpted from “Lines from My Grandfather’s Journal” – Published in The Spice-Box of Earth (1961). Image atop post is the back cover of The Spice Box Of Earth by Leonard Cohen (1973 edition). Originally posted January 10, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I didn’t come to Helsinki to fool you” Leonard Cohen Performs Hallelujah, Featuring Neil Larsen – Helsinki 2012

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Helsinki: Sept 2, 2012
Video by

Originally posted Sep 3, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Phil [Spector] had a lot of guns all over the place. You’d always be tripping over bullets that had fallen out of guns.” Leonard Cohen

Embed from Getty Images

Phil [Spector] had a lot of guns all over the place. You’d always be tripping over bullets that had fallen out of guns. Once I challenged one of Phil’s bodyguards to draw on me. It got that tense. My state of mind was only slightly less demented that Spector’s at the time.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview).

“Dear Mailer / don’t ever fuck with me” If Leonard Cohen’s “Kanye West Is Not Picasso” Is A Diss Poem; What Is “Dear Mailer”?

OK, I admit I’m not familiar with that segment of literary theory that deals with “diss poems.” None of the courses I took as an English major, Modern American Poetry, Victorian Poetry. Seventeenth Century Verse, Restoration & 18th Century Poetry: From Dryden to Wordsworth, etc., addressed, as far as I recall, Epic Diss Poetry. That may explain why the internet’s current fascination with Leonard Cohen’s “Kanye West Is Not Picasso” and the characterization of that verse as A Diss From Beyond The Grave” elude me. Nonetheless, we press on.

I’ve already posted the recommendation that if you’re weary of reading Twitter-sized appraisals of Leonard Cohen’s currently trending “Kanye West Is Not Picasso” poem (e.g., “Leonard Cohen is right,” “Leonard Cohen sucks,” “Who’s Leonard Cohen?”), take a look at Leonard Cohen’s Kanye West Poem Wasn’t an Insult; It was a tribute by Carl Wilson (Slate: Oct 12, 2018), which offers a more comprehensive, nuanced, and coherent take on the issue. Now, however, I want to approach the issue from another perspective.

Here’s “Kanye West Is Not Picasso” from The Flame by Leonard Cohen:

From my fundamentalist perspective, if Leonard Cohen ever wrote a diss poem, it is “Dear Mailer” (that would be Norman Mailer), published in The Energy Of Slaves (1972).

Dear Mailer
don’t ever fuck with me
or come up to me
and punch my gut
on behalf of one of your theories
I am armed and mad
Should I suffer
the smallest humiliation
at your hand
I will k–l you
and your entire family

I mean, doesn’t that sound pretty diss-ish to you? Yet, here’s what Leonard had to say about it.

I actually recited the poem [‘Dear Mailer’] to [Norman] Mailer with a smile, at some reading where we met up. He didn’t punch me out but he was alarmed. He said, ‘God, don’t publish that. You don’t know that some loony isn’t going to be excited by it and do what you threatened to do.’ It really scared him. I then had second thoughts about the poem because suddenly I saw it from his point of view. Earlier, I saw it as a humorous response to the position he was taking at the time, coming on like a bully. I had a real laugh when I originally wrote it. I then tried to stop its publication but it had already gone to press.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview).

“Dear Mailer” has provoked some interesting responses. The posts collected at “Dear Mailer” – Leonard Cohen  explain the origin the poem and offers observations on it;.

Kanye West photo by the_mlKanye West concert, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link