The Pictorial Rehabilitation Of Leonard Cohen’s Father, Nathan Cohen


The Nathan Cohen Photo Fallacy

This post sets forth the Nathan Cohen Photo Fallacy without offering rigorous scientific proof.1 I believe the argument to be, nonetheless, sufficiently compelling to significantly shift how one views Leonard Cohen’s father, Nathan Cohen.

The Nathan Cohen Photo Fallacy Thesis: The perception of  Leonard Cohen’s father, Nathan Cohen, held by fans, journalists, and scholars has been significantly and unconsciously skewed by a single photo.

This notion hangs on three postulates:

1. Our assessment of a person’s character is significantly affected by the appearance of that person. Social perception studies repeatedly and consistently demonstrate that we intuitively form impressions of and make inferences about other people largely, albeit not exclusively, from their physical presentation.2 For example, facial appearance has been shown to reliably predict

  • Whom we choose to help, hire, or date
  • Criminal justice decisions
  • Evaluations about which members of a group are more outgoing, socially competent, sexually responsive, and intelligent
  • Assessments of health and power

It is worth noting that this effect takes place whether an individual’s appearance is viewed in person or in a photo. Most social perception studies, in fact, involve the use of photographs rather than live models.

2. For an overwhelming majority of today’s Leonard Cohen fans as well as contemporary scholars, journalists, and authors who write about the Canadian singer-songwriter (anyone, in other words, other than family and friends who can conjure up a mental picture of Leonard Cohen’s father), that image is based on this photograph.

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  1. To those readers who find this approach suspect, be assured I am prepared to perform the necessary research and studies immediately upon receiving your certified check funding the project. []
  2. Rather than list dozens of these studies, I offer one often-cited, representative paper: Social Psychological Face Perception: Why Appearance Matters by Leslie A. Zebrowitz and Joann M. Montepare (Soc Personal Psychol Compass. May 1, 2008 []

Leonard Cohen Photographed By Annie Leibovitz: Los Angeles – June 12, 2001


Leonard Cohen At Ease

This portrait of Leonard Cohen was shot by Annie Leibovitz at Cohen’s Los Angeles home on June 12, 2001.

Watching Sharon Robinson’s Show Over Leonard Cohen’s Shoulder – 2013

Shannon Burns (on right – behind the guy with the fedora): “Sharon Robinson was brilliant”

This excerpt about the Oct 19, 2013 Sharon Robinson Los Angeles, show is from Shannon Burns Facebook Page 

OK, this should be about Sharon Robinson, but when I was standing in front of  [the table reserved for Leonard Cohen], the whole scene changed. I spent the next hour standing directly behind Leonard Cohen, then Lori Nebenzahl snapped photo [atop this post] when the show ended. Notwithstanding this very huge aside, Sharon was brilliant.


Note: Originally posted Oct 20, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s Immutable Law of Business #3 – Illustrated


Leonard Cohen’s Immutable Law of Business #3: There’s nothing you can do behind your desk that can’t be more effectively accomplished with a beautiful, long-haired, chain-smoking woman lying naked next to you in bed.

 I’ve previously posted both Leonard Cohen’s Seven Immutable Laws of Business1 (the article from which Law #3 is drawn) and the above photo2 but only today realized  how serendipitously they fit together.

Note: Originally posted Oct 20, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Leonard Cohen’s Seven Immutable Laws Of Business By Ken Krimstein. McSweeney’s: Oct 21, 2005 []
  2. From Various Positions by Ira Nadel []