“It’s a mistake to blame things on other people, especially your parents. Everybody suffers, but growing up involves forgiving – not using relationships as an alibi.” Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen & his mother, Masha. Photo courtesy of Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen: Thoughts Of A Ladies’ Man by Elizabeth M. Thomson. 1979 interview reposted to FolkTracks: Jan 12, 2017.

“I think we should row with both oars…the intellect and the emotions.” Leonard Cohen

You seem to completely trust the emotions. The emotional response. Does this imply that you distrust the intellectual response?

I don’t want to present myself as some kind of anti-intellectual fascist. There’s a lot of that going on today and it’s a very fashionable position. I think we should row with both oars. There’s the intellect and the emotionsquotedown2

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). Photo of Leonard Cohen by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Julie Christensen: “I’ve complained about this [breathing dry ice vapor on stage] before. Who do I have to fuck to get something done around here?” Leonard Cohen: “I guess that’ll be me”

From Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993. Originally posted Jan 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On His Family’s “Normal Superficial Relationships”

Interviewer: My father and I are both deeply involved in music, and I got so much of my love for it, and I suppose gift for it, from him. That created discord as well as harmony, though the former has long departed. Working with your son, did any tensions surface? And if so, how easily were they resolved? I imagine it must have been an intense – and intensely joyous – experience. But these things are rarely straightforward.

You live much more intensely than I. In my family we all enjoy the normal superficial relationshipsquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From the Dan Cairns – Sunday Times Culture questionnaire Leonard Cohen sent me Oct 17, 2016. Portions of that questionnaire were incorporated into Leonard Cohen: Hey, that’s some way to say goodbye by Dan Cairns (The Sunday Times: October 23 2016), but this specific response was not used.

Photo from Adam Cohen Facebook Page

“[Jazz Police] felt surreal while I was writing it–the choruses were trying to wiggle away from being crushed by the boot of judgment” Leonard Cohen

In the Soviet Union, there’s the KGB; in our country there’s the RCMP; in the USA, there’s the FBI. But above all these agencies there’s a superagency called the “Jazz Police.”They govern everything; they rule everything; they are behind every plot and every resolution. This is my homage to them.

Leonard Cohen
Toronto: Nov 9, 19881

This next song [Jazz Police] is a very curious song. I hope you will forgive me for indulging in some augmented fifths and diminished ninths. I know that I am only supposed to use three chords, but sometimes the devil just gets hold of me.

Leonard Cohen
Portland: Oct 28, 19882

Jazz Police: The Least Loved Leonard Cohen Song?

According to another of my incredibly unscientific yet uncannily accurate surveys, Jazz Police is the Leonard Cohen Song Most Likely To Be Loathed On The I’m Your Man Album. Regardless, today’s celebration of the release of that album affords an opportunity to present this rarely heard tune.

In a thoughtful analysis of Jazz Police, Fragmented Absurdity: An Analysis Of Leonard Cohen’s Jazz Police,3 Jason Murray describes the origins of the song:

In an interview in Musician Cohen gives the story. It began during the making of the record Recent Songs when he worked with the fusion group Passenger. Often the band would sneak bits of jazz riffs into the songs, which Cohen admitted he had to watch out for. Between Cohen and the band grew an understanding that if he caught them playing jazz riffs (augmented fifths or sevenths is the example he gives) he would call them on it. Initially he was himself the jazz police! The intent was to then take the idea of a ‘jazz police’ and let it run on into some type of fruition, be it absurdity or full expression. It took 9 years (1979-1988) for the song to develop and be recorded; a testament to Cohen’s well know practice of working and reworking pieces of poetry and songs in time consuming detail

When Anjani Thomas, who herself describes Jazz Police as “kind of Manhattan Transfer-meets-Star Trek,” asked Leonard Cohen to “clarify it,” his response was that

‘Jazz Police’ is a lighthearted look in the post-modernist style, on judgment of any kind in all art forms. I recall it felt surreal while I was writing it–the choruses were trying to wiggle away from being crushed by the boot of judgment.

As Anjani concludes, “I sure hope that clears it up for all you fans out there.”4

Leonard Cohen – Jazz Police
Austin City Limits: 1988

Originally posted February 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Source: Diamonds In The Lines []
  2. Source: Diamonds In The Lines []
  3. Source: LeonardCohenFiles []
  4. Source: Interview With Anjani Thomas accessed at Speaking Cohen [No longer online] []

“I think this particular record invites one to be swept along with it, even if you happen to have written it yourself.” Leonard Cohen Old Ideas Album Released Jan 31, 2012

The Old Ideas album was released Jan 31, 2012, more than seven years after Leonard Cohen’s previous studio album. It was enthusiastically received by critics (see Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits “Best Album Of 2012” Lists) and by music lovers, whose purchases made Old Ideas #1 on the charts across the world (see Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits The Charts – And Why That Matters (Maybe))

Old Ideas Billboard – Times Square NYC

Leonard Cohen – Show Me The Place

The first Old Ideas track pre-released was Show Me The Place.

Titular quote is from The Wisdom Of Leonard Cohen by Kevin Perry. GQ: Jan 19, 2012. Billboard photo by Kezban Özcan. Originally posted Aug 7, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric