“Cohen’s art does not gloss over the difficulties of contemporary life, but throws them into sharp relief—mercilessly, but also beautifully.” The Curious Phenomenon Of Leonard Cohen By Philipp W Rosemann

“Why is an artist whose work sounds like prayers and who sings of failure and guilt so popular in a country which appears to have lost all religion?”

The curious phenomenon of Leonard Cohen by Philipp W Rosemann (RTE: Apr 12,  2018) is an insightful essay on Leonard Cohen’s significance to contemporary life, especially as religion appears to be losing its ability to grant peace and succor. I’ve included an excerpt but do yourself a favor and read the entire piece (available at the link).

Cohen remained a seeker: a devout Jew who introduced his children to the faith of his fathers, a follower of Jesus, a monk in a Buddhist community in California, a disciple of a Hindu sage, a doubter, a hapless lover, a wonderful father, a sex maniac, an alcoholic … a human being.

Let me suggest that it is precisely this combination of contradictory attributes that makes Cohen attractive to us in the contemporary world. He was one of us, a human being who had lost the certainty that previous generations were able to enjoy. Cohen’s art does not gloss over the difficulties of contemporary life, but throws them into sharp relief—mercilessly, but also beautifully. He acknowledges the reality of suffering in a world that we increasingly expect to bend to our will. He encourages us not to give up on the quest for what really matters, even if we don’t know where the road may lead us.

Credit Due Department: Phots by Baggio – Own work, CC BY 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons

Robert Kory, Trustee Of Leonard Cohen Family Trust, Talks About His Mandate To Expand Appreciation Of Cohen’s Work

Robert Kory spoke at the Max and Iris Stern International Symposium, which was part of the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC) Leonard Cohen exhibition, about his task navigating the legalities of protecting intellectual property, and also making “esthetic” judgments about the use of Leonard Cohen’s work. The following excerpt addresses the titular issue, “Why was Assassin’s Creed given rights to a Leonard Cohen song and not the Montreal Symphony Orchestra?” but the entire article is  a worthwhile read.

Kory said he approved the use of You Want it Darker in the next instalment of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, despite the action video game and film series’ violence, because it will bring Cohen’s music to a new audience. This is the song on which the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim choir and Cantor Gideon Zelermyer sing backup vocals, lending an authentic sound to its Jewish liturgical inspiration. Kory, who was Cohen’s manager from 2008 and sole trustee since 2016, explained that the producers of Assassin’s Creed, the French company Ubisoft, kept the song as it was. The game’s storyline of a battle against evil reflects Cohen’s general worldview and Kory believes he would appreciate this “honest representation of his work.”

He expects that the video featuring the song, which is part of the game, will get “tens of millions of viewers, young men aged 18 to 25, (even) in Bulgaria, who will say, ‘this is a cool dude, a badass guy,’ ” and maybe listen to another song on the album.

Ubisoft also was very “gracious, meeting the highest possible standards” and consulting with the trust “every step of the way,” he said. Kory rejected a request from the MSO to perform the song at a concert in celebration of Montreal’s 375th anniversary last year because it wanted to do it in “a lighter arrangement.” Kory also did not like the MSO’s non-collaborative approach. “In contrast (to Ubisoft), the MSO just wanted to ‘do it our way, because we are the MSO,’ ” he said.

Why was Assassin’s Creed given rights to a Leonard Cohen song and not the Montreal Symphony Orchestra? by Janice Arnold (Canadian Jewish News: April 10, 2018). Photo by Dominique BOILE.

Read Leonard Cohen’s Eloquent Statement To The Court At Sentencing Of Kelley Lynch For Harassment – April 17, 2012

The Sentencing

Note: Earlier coverage of this issue includes

In continuing converge of the trial of Kelley Lynch, Leonard Cohen’s former manager, for harassment of Cohen, Hailey Branson-Potts of the Los Angeles Times reports in Leonard Cohen’s former business manager jailed for harassment  (April 18, 2012) that after being found guilty last week by a jury on five counts of violating no-contact protective orders and two counts of repeatedly contacting Leonard Cohen with the intent to annoy or harass, Kelley Lynch was sentenced by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert C. Vanderet to 18 months in Los Angeles County jail for violating restraining orders and sending Cohen and others thousands of harassing email and voice mail messages.

The article goes on:

Lynch, who was dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit and handcuffed to a chair, also was sentenced to five years’ probation. She is barred from owning, possessing or using deadly weapons, including firearms, for 10 years.

While in custody, she must undergo anger management classes, psychological training and alcohol education sessions. Upon release, she will be required to undergo a mental health evaluation.

Judge Vanderet prefaced the sentencing by saying Lynch, 55, showed no remorse for a “long, unrelenting barrage of harassing behavior” and “No person should be subject to that kind of targeting by anyone,”

Kelley Lynch’s Statement To The Court

The LA Times piece notes that

Prior to sentencing, Lynch was given an opportunity to make a statement, in which she remained defiant. She blamed prosecutors for carrying out a “vicious attack” on her. She said if she wasn’t incarcerated she could stay away from Cohen and was “willing to go to anger management.”

… “I do believe that I have engaged in excessive and unauthorized rambling,” Lynch told the judge Tuesday.

Leonard Cohen’s Statement To Court

According to Leonard Cohen to Ex-Manager/Harasser: Thank You for Exposing Yourself by Tim Kenneally & Pamela Chelin in The Wrap (April 17, 2012), “Leonard Cohen read an impassioned and sometimes funny statement in court Tuesday, during the sentencing:”

I want to thank the Defendant Ms. Kelley Lynch for insisting on a Jury Trial, thus exposing to the light of day her massive depletion of my retirement savings and yearly earnings, and allowing the Court to observe her profoundly unwholesome, obscene and relentless strategies to escape the consequences of her wrongdoing.

The eight-year ordeal of harassment of my family, my friends, my associates, and myself was designed specifically to avoid or postpone the inevitable day of reckoning with the IRS, the day when she will be bound to account for the taxes she has neglected to pay on the stolen monies that she received and failed to report.

Cohen’s full statement follows:

Photo by Joe Wolf.

Note: Originally posted Apr 18, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Warning Sign #31: You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If –…

You categorize music into seven categories: 1. Music written & performed by Leonard Cohen; 2. Music written by Leonard Cohen but performed by other artists; 3. Music written by other artists but performed by Leonard Cohen; 4. Music influenced by Leonard Cohen; 5. Music that influenced Leonard Cohen; 6. Music referencing Leonard Cohen; 7. Garbage


Since the publication of the official criteria for the prototypical Leonard Cohen Fan Diagnosis, 301.LC Cohenphilic Personality Disorder, the Cohencentric Leonard Cohen Fan Disorders Asylum and Sanitarium has received numerous messages asking if one or another behavior is a symptom characteristic of a Leonard Cohen fan. Consequently, Cohencentric is publishing, as a public service, signs which indicate that one is at high risk of being a full-fledged Leonard Cohen fan.

All published You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … entries can be found at the You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If … Page

Now Released: Zen & Poesie – The Leonard Cohen Lexicon By Christof Graf

Now on sale at Amazon. The following information is from the official Press Release (via Google Translate):

Zen & Poesie – The Leonard Cohen Lexicon
The Cohenpedia – Series Vol. I
By Christof Graf

Paperback: 508 pages
Publisher: Schardt, M
Language: German
Release Date: April 6, 2018
ISBN 978-3-89841-846-1

On November 7, 2018, the anniversary of the death of Canadian rock poet Leonard Cohen marks the second anniversary. Shortly after his 82nd birthday on September 21, 2016, the exceptional artist released his epic masterpiece “You Want It Darker”. Only a short time later Leonard Cohen died on November 7, 2016 in his home in Los Angeles. There are more than 3000 cover versions of his songs. Alone over 300 exist at the moment of his – besides “Suzanne” – most famous song “Hallelujah”. But many still know little about him.

“ZEN & POESIE – The Leonard Cohen lexicon” conveys for the first time knowledge of the master of word and voice, which was not yet collected in this way. Christof Graf, author of already five books on Leonard Cohen, Cohen-Blogger and operator of the oldest and most extensive German website is “Cohen expert for four decades” (MANNHEIMER MORGEN). On more than 500 pages with almost 5,000 headwords, titles and names, etc., the author manages “a unique encyclopedia of Leonard Cohen’s artistic oeuvre” (SAARLAND DRUNDING). All albums, all songs, all musicians, everything from and about Leonard Cohen from A to Z Count offers in this documentary reference book.

Continue Reading →

“My first tour with Leonard [Cohen] was in 1972. Looking into his audience, I saw a sea of beautiful faces not unlike the ecstatic ones you see in old religious paintings, where the men and women were openly weeping.” Jennifer Warnes

My first tour with Leonard was in 1972. Looking into his audience, I saw a sea of beautiful faces not unlike the ecstatic ones you see in old religious paintings, where the men and women were openly weeping—and even though I was only 22 years old, I knew I was not in Kansas anymore. This was the tour when famously the audience sang to him in Jerusalem [after Cohen walked offstage mid-performance, overwhelmed by the crowd’s applause]. I was onstage when it happened; we were crying, and it was this moment when I understood the depth of his commitment and their commitment to him. I think somebody had given him some windowpane acid, and it was coming on as they were singing to him. He thought a miracle was happening, and you could see it on his face. He just sat down on the stage and listened to them sing. It was a Jewish chant, and it was heart-rendingly beautiful. I’m just this sunshine girl from Orange County! And when I encountered such depth and richness and spiritual power—when I finally understood that kind of intimacy within music was possible—I came home changed. I refused to go out on tour with an opening act for Neil Diamond, not because I disliked Neil Diamond, but because I was still reverberating from that impact. Leonard shattered my relationship with pop music, and now I’ve had this career that kind of vacillated between pop and music with meaning.quotedown2

Jennifer Warnes


From Remembering Leonard Cohen: Close Friends, Collaborators & Critics on How He Changed Music Forever by Sasha Frere-Jones (Billboard: November 17, 2016).

“He would be a model of somebody who by not trying to push himself forward or play the game people respond to and respect.” Pico Iyer On Tributes To Leonard Cohen And His Attitude Toward Money & Fame

The second half of the Pico Iyer interview discussed in an earlier post (Pico Iyer Compares Leonard Cohen With Emily Dickinson, Thomas Merton, & Bob Dylan) is now online at Pico Iyer on the strange connection between the Dalai Lama and Graham Greene.

As before, I am offering excerpts that focus on Leonard Cohen but recommend perusing the entire article:

Q: There’s been a lot of real obvious paying of dues lately from people who’ve been influenced by Leonard Cohen.
A: Yes. Even when I wrote about him 15 years ago there were 12 tribute albums about him. Let’s say that was 1998. Now there must be 30. I think it’s hard for people to see that in Poland or in Norway, he is the god, the person and musician in the world they would walk hundreds of miles to see. And you probably know that freak of circumstances that last year “Halleluyah” was No. 1 and No. 2 on the British charts and his version was No. 34. He’s never been in the charts much in his life and I think it set some record for the fastest-selling digital song in history or something.

It’s nice to see vindication (for Cohen) for all those years of stillness and retreat. It’s like the first thing I said to you today when you turned on the tape recorder. He would be a model of somebody who by not trying to push himself forward or play the game people respond to and respect.

Q: Where does he live?
A: It’s an extraordinary thing. He lives in this tiny house in central Los Angeles that’s so dangerous I’m scared ever to visit it, an area where everyone has barred their windows, you can almost hear sirens and breaking glass. Out of all my friends in California — normal people, struggling writers — he lives in the single most modest place. I and my friends seem rich next to Leonard Cohen. He shares a house with his daughter and he might as well be in the monastery and he’s been there for almost 30 years.

One reason people respond to him is they can tell he’s not interested in fame or money. He grew up with money and he got fame very early so he’s free of many of the lesser orientations or designs we feel in our artists and he’s really living a life of modesty and reflection.

Pico Iyer on the strange connection between the Dalai Lama and Graham Greene by Jeff Baker, The Oregonian, April 6, 2010. Originally posted Apr 6, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.