Leonard Cohen’s Words On Songwriting Influence Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner On Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino Album

Arctic Monkeys released their sixth album on Friday (May 11), which features a shift in sound and lyrical approach from the Sheffield band… Asked how he felt about people pulling one or two lines out of each song and them losing their context, Turner replied:

I think I saw Leonard Cohen talking about writing and that idea if you pull out one thing from one his songs, you’re gonna be like, ‘What is he on about?’ But in the context of everything, I feel like you know exactly where he’s coming from, especially with a writer like him – you’re right there with him as you listen to a song of his in its entirety or a record. Hearing him talk about that idea of pulling one thing out and it not making much sense is definitely something that spurred me on to approaching this record in that way and not be so concerned with making the thing be about whatever it’s about.quotedown2

Alex Turner

Excerpted from Alex Turner says hearing Leonard Cohen talk about songwriting ‘spurred him on’ to write ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’ by Rhian Daly (NME:

Leonard Cohen Takes Out Garbage, Lights French Incense, Proffers “Our Famous Montreal Bagels” – And Rebecca De Mornay Wears His Sweatshirt

On a snowy, dreary Montreal morning that looks the way his music sounds, Leonard Cohen is taking out the garbage. No one, however, does trash disposal like Leonard Cohen. For one thing, he’s wearing a sharply cut gray suit-at 10 a.m. For another, he ends the act with a flourish: After he dumps the trash into a can directly outside the cozy kitchen of his drab rowhouse in Montreal’s ethnic shopping district, he walks back in and takes from his jacket what appears to be a matchbook-size piece of wood. “You know what this is?” Cohen intones, the sound of the Lord on a bad day. “It’s old-fashioned French incense. You just light it and stand there.” So he lights it and stands there, and as a thin strand of smoke snakes its way around his hang-dog face, Cohen smiles ever so subtly. The image is the very essence of cool, and you start to understand not only why you want to be there (to paraphrase his song “Suzanne”) but why Cohen-singer, songwriter, poet, and patron saint of angst-is an underground hero revered by everyone from Bob Dylan to R.E.M. Cohen is an unlikely idol. At 58, he’s even older than most aging baby- boomer rock stars, whom he calls “mere boys.” For 25 years, he has recorded a series of intense, often lugubrious albums (the latest is The Future), singing of romantic bondage, spiritual conflict, oppression, and depression- hardly sunny pop sentiments. He’s also part intellectual (“I’m much too preoccupied with myself to notice changes in the commercial environment,” he says when asked about fellow CBS artist George Michael’s suit to get out of his contract with the label) and part schlumpy Jewish guy. “Have you had any of our famous Montreal bagels?” he asks, lighting the ancient stove that, along with a few wood tables and chairs, constitutes most of the furniture in his narrow three-floor home. Suddenly there are footsteps from upstairs, and into the kitchen pops actress Rebecca De Mornay, Cohen’s “very close” partner, wearing black jeans and a wintergreen sweatshirt. “Want some coffee?” Cohen asks her attentively. The two have been a rumored item for five years. It’s hard to imagine a stranger-looking couple – the elegant basset hound and the fresh-faced starlet 28 years his junior – but they seem happy. She coproduced one song on The Future, and he accompanied her to the Oscars telecast last year. After a while, Cohen looks at her and says, “That’s a nice shirt.” She giggles: “Well, it’s yours, actually.” With that, Cohen looks straight at the reporter in his home and, with a face so straight you could use it as a ruler, says, “I never laid a hand on her.” Not only is he a revered rock hero, not only is he worshiped by Rebecca De Mornay – but he can deliver a great line, too.

From 7 Reasons Leonard Cohen Is the Next-Best Thing to God by David Browne. Entertainment Weekly, Jan 8, 1993. Photo of Leonard Cohen’s home in Montreal taken by and posted with the permission of Lilian Graziani.

“‘An overseas relationship,’ That’s what I called our life then.” Dominique Issermann Talks About Her 7 Years As Leonard Cohen’s Lover And About Marianne & Suzanne Elrod

When did you meet Leonard for the first time?

At Hydra, in 1982. Carole Laure and Lewis Furey introduced me to him. They knew each other well since their years of “Bohemian” Montreal.

When you lived together, what was your biggest common denominator?

Work. I did not stop working, nor did he… He wrote all the time. When I met him, he had just finished Various Positions, and then he wrote I’m Your Man. We lived at one or the other in Los Angeles, in Montreal, in New York at the hotel, in Paris, a little in Trouville or Hydra. “An overseas relationship,” that’s what I called our life then …


You had other men before him, he had other women before you, that he evokes in his songs, Suzanne, Janis Joplin for whom he wrote “Chelsea Hotel” or Joni Mitchell, the “Winter Lady” …

You forget Marianne. Suzanne, Marianne, Issermann, it rhymes …

Did you know them?

I met Marianne once, in Hydra, I think. A very beautiful woman, a bit more buxom than the photos. I think he had a beautiful relationship with her. I knew Suzanne, of course, since she was the mother of their children, whom she raised in Paris. Leonard took them on weekends, on vacation. When I met him, his daughter was 10 years old and his son 8 years old. It was a kind of gift to me, who did not have children. They were very charming; they still are: Adam is now a singer, and Lorca a wonderful young woman who lives half the time in Paris.

Leonard also spoke a lot about Marianne, whose son he raised. He lived on Hydra with her for years that were quite dazzling for him. He had just left Canada, the snow, McGill University. He had earned some money, and he went to the sun. He bought a house there. He went to the beach to soak up the sun and returned to the terrace. And then Marianne came with her blond hair, her sarong. It was an easy life, they were young, it was quiet, no cars, donkeys going up and down the hill, cats …

I have the impression that he was quite happy in Greece. He has never been unhappy anywhere. Of course, he goes through terrible ups and downs, but there is still in the depths of him a creativity so beautiful. Besides, among all the singers, who claims his happiness? Charles Trenet, maybe … and then again I’m not sure. But, for the most part, it’s “I can’t get no satisfaction,” as the Stones would say.

From Ma vie avec Leonard Cohen : “Je l’ai entendu travailler deux ans sur ‘Hallelujah’” par François Armanet et Bernard Loupias (L’Obs: Nov 11, 2016). Interview originally published in “Le Nouvel Observateur” of January 26, 2012. Excerpt via computer translation.

Photo by Dominique BOILE

“You’re Leonard Cohen. Of COURSE you would say that!” – Putting Leonard Cohen’s Advice In Perspective

A friend of mine confessed to Leonard Cohen that he was considering having an affair. “You have to do it,” said Cohen. “You have to risk everything, or you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what might have happened.” My friend started to take the advice seriously, but then he stopped short. “Wait a minute,” he said. “You’re Leonard Cohen. Of COURSE you would say that!”

Comment at Peter Sagal’s Blog, December 25th, 2008. Originally posted January 11, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

“He had an incredible integrity. He lived by the words that he spoke.” Sheri-D Wilson, The Mama of Dada, Remembers Leonard Cohen

Sheri-D Wilson, also known as The Mama of Dada, says Cohen’s work got into her consciousness at an early age. “I remember the first time I heard Suzanne on the radio and I was listening and I went, ‘What is that? That is something I haven’t heard before,'” “It didn’t seem like any other song that I had heard. I of course went out right after that and found books by him and then searched him out for the rest of my life.” She says her fondness for the man and his body of work is grounded in his integrity. “My attraction is his continual desire or concern to find that perfect state of balance that he would probably refer to as a state of grace. That state of grace always sticks with me because if we could, as a community, as a larger society, if we could aim for that state of grace it might bring us to better places of understanding and balance,” Wilson explained.

Excerpt from Leonard Cohen had integrity, lived by the words he spoke, says award-winning Calgary poet  by David Bell (CBC News : Nov 12, 2016)

Credit Due Department: Photo by Sheri-D – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Final Cover Of La Vie De Leonard Cohen By Sylvie Simmons – To Be Published In European French May 17, 2018

Dominique BOILE, upon receiving a preview of the French edition of Sylvie Simmons’ book, writes to point out that “the cover, definitive, is different from the one previously sent.”

“I’m Your Man,” the biography by Sylvie Simmons will finally be available in France in a European French translation (it was previously available in Canada in a Canadian French translation) by my friends, Elisabeth Domergue and Françoise Vella. According to Éditions L’échappée, this edition will be available on May 17, 2018.

“The discipline that takes, not being able to hide from yourself, and then folding it outward into songs. There’s no one more eloquent.” Feist On Leonard Cohen


Your introspection has a few parallels to Leonard Cohen, who was always on a search for a deeper meaning within himself and the greater world. Do you find yourself drawn to his work?

I found him to be a symbolic mentor because I didn’t have a chance to know him. The way he lived his life half pointing outwards, and mostly pointing inwards; (his) private meditation practice, living in a monastery and insulating himself inside of a spiritual commitment. The discipline that takes, not being able to hide from yourself, and then folding it outward into songs. There’s no one more eloquent. I’ll spend the rest of my life humbly attempting to have as genuine an internal life as he might have.quotedown2

Leslie Feist

From Q&A: Feist on her new ‘zeitgeist awareness,’ women’s marches and Leonard Cohen by David Friend (National Post: May 7, 2018). Photo by Jason Persse – Flickr: Feist, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons.

“I cannot imagine the light that flows into that man” Louise Penny, Author Of How The Light Gets In, On Leonard Cohen

Finally, I’d like to thank Leonard Cohen. The book is named after an excerpt from his poem/song — ‘Anthem.’

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget the perfect offering,
There’s a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.

I first used that stanza in my second book. When I contacted him to ask permission and find out what I’d have to pay for it, he got back through his agent to say he would give it to me for free.


I’d paid handsomely for other poetry excerpts, and rightly so. I’d expected to pay for this, especially given that at the time, six years ago [2007], Mr Cohen had just had most of his savings stolen by a trusted member of his team.

Instead of asking for thousands – he asked for nothing.

I cannot imagine the light that flows into that manquotedown2

Louise Penny


From the Acknowledgements of How The Light Gets In (2013 ) by Louise Penny, best-selling creator of the prize-winning Inspector Armand Gamache series.

Louise Penny first used this excerpt in her second book, A Fatal Grace (2007)

Gamache leaned in and put on his reading glasses.

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget the perfect offering,
There’s a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.

He read it out loud. Beautiful.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Jean Hall, an inveterate reader and my favorite pediatrician, who alerted me to this gracious acknowledgement.