“I would never assume that title [poet] until it’s been awarded me by a very good and long performance.” Leonard Cohen 1961

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I think the term ‘poet’ is a very exalted term and should be applied to a man at the end of his work. When he looks back over the body of his work and he’s written poetry then let the verdict be that he’s a poet. But I would never assume that title until it’s been awarded me by a very good and long performance.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From June 16, 1961 CBC interview with Leonard Cohen. Image atop post is the back cover of The Spice Box Of Earth (1973). Photo by Sophie Baker. Originally posted May 21, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“This is my adventure. My greatest need is to be interesting to myself.” Leonard Cohen

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Sometimes I feel that my life is a sell-out and that I’m the greatest comedian of my generation. But I have to keep going. I can’t remain fifteen and a virgin. So now I’m thirty-six and greedy. I’m willing to be this. I was once never able to stay in the same room with four people. Only a girl who adored me. I feel better now. The more vulgar I get, the more concerned with others I get. I’m trying to cure myself and the only way to cure myself is to take over the world. This is my adventure. My greatest need is to be interesting to myself. Suffering has led me to wherever I am. Suffering has made me rebel against my own weakness.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen Wants the Unconditional Leadership of the World by Susan Lumsden (Weekend Magazine: Sept 12, 1970). Photo Credit: Peter Brosseau/Library and Archives Canada/PA-170174

 

“When you have those moments where you inform yourself of something that wasn’t immediately apparent, that’s when it becomes interesting.” Leonard Cohen On Songwriting

In many ways, [your 1992 album] The Future picked up on what was in the air and became almost prophetic.

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I think that sensibility is nothing you can summon, but it really arises if you keep uncovering the song and trying to get beneath the slogan – either the emotional slogan or the political slogan. So much of the work that I hear, there’s nothing wrong with it, but much of it has the feel of a slogan or an agenda that’s already been written. It’s a perfectly good slogan, and there are interesting variations on it. But if you’re interested in forming yourself through your work, which I think is more interesting, then you have to keep uncovering and discarding those slogans until you get something. When you have those moments where you inform yourself of something that wasn’t immediately apparent, that’s when it becomes interesting.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead (and other things I learned from famous people) by Neil Strauss (The Truth About Lies: July 9, 2011)

“The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape.” Leonard Cohen (1968)


From International Herald Tribune. Paris, November 4, 1968.

A summary of Leonard Cohen’s depression, its treatment, and its disappearance is available at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution

All posts dealing with Leonard Cohen’s depression can be accessed at

“Why have I become Scott Fitzgerald but without any loot or social connections?” Leonard Cohen (1962)

Leonard Cohen writing from Hydra in 1962 to his friend Daniel Kraslavsky in Montreal. From Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen By Ira B. Nadel (Random House of Canada: 1996). Originally posted July 24, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s Style – Likes Suits, Doesn’t Like Shopping

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Interviewer: Did you always dress this well? Or is it something you’ve developed?”

Leonard Cohen: “No, I always wore a suit, pretty much. I grew up before blue jeans hit. I always felt better in a jacket.”

Interviewer: “So you put on a jacket even if you’re not going out?”

Leonard Cohen: “Especially if I’m not going out.”

Evidently, wearing a jacket and tie was a matter of discipline, a poet’s version of a uniform. The jacket, which was purchased at a thrift store on Fairfax, cost $7, and most of Cohen’s suits are years, sometimes decades old. “I don’t like shopping,” he explained, showing me a threadbare Armani in his closet. Next to it was another jacket with a small gold badge on the lapel. The badge said: Canadian Border Patrol.

From Angst & Aquavit by Brendan Bernhard. LA Weekly: September 26, 2001. Photo by Michael Donald.

“And that’s what I’m doing. Preparing to die.” Leonard Cohen (2008)

 

He was discussing a book he’d read on Auschwitz. Some scholars, he explained, wondered why the Jews didn’t rush forward and try to overpower the handful of machine gunners about to shoot them when they were being led to mass graves. According to the book he was reading, the answer was:

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It’s because that’s not what they wanted to do. They wanted to reflect on their life and prepare to die. And that’s what I’m doing. Preparing to die.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

On The Loss Of A Great Artist & Inspiration… by Neil Strauss (NeilStrauss.com: November 11, 2016). The quotation is from a 2008 interview. Photo by Maarten Massa.

“I’ll… fortify myself with a drink in order to confront the inevitable moral pneumonia that follows on a blizzard of praise.” Leonard Cohen Opens 2006 LA Film Festival Screening Of I’m Your Man Documentary

Leonard Cohen, Lian Lunson, & “Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man” Appear At 2006 LA Film Festival

While this video of Leonard Cohen speaking before the 2006 LA Film Festival screening of “Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man” comprises only Leonard’s brief acknowledgment of his gratitude for the tribute, it merits watching as yet another demonstration of the singer-songwriter’s self-effacing graciousness and as a lesson in expressing sincere gratitude without resorting to the kind of treacle that serves as the primary constituent of, say, acceptance speeches at awards shows for performers.

Heck, it’s worth watching if only to hear Leonard Cohen’s describe his intention to retire to the green room in order to

fortify myself with a drink in order to confront the inevitable moral pneumonia that follows on a blizzard of praise.

Lian Lunson, the film’s director, describes what happened after she and Leonard slipped behind the screen at the end of his speech:

This screening was the only public screening Leonard attended. It was a windy night at the Ford amphitheater and Leonard and i sat alone behind the screen with a bottle of wine. The audience could not see us. And, because we were watching the film from behind the screen the film was reversed. It was beautiful to see it that way.

An Evening with Leonard Cohen
LA Film Festival at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre: June 24, 2006

Thanks to Lian Lunson for her charming account of this scene.

This video was originally posted May 3, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric