Podcast: Leonard Cohen Wrestles with Sex, Death, and God

 

From Virtue in the Wasteland (November 14, 2016):

Following his recent death, we discuss Leonard Cohen’s songs, which deal with biblical and romantic themes. Was he pessimistic and despairing, or was there a secret chord that some might miss if they don’t listen close enough to this genius songwriter? We not only discuss Cohen’s own recordings, we play a few of our favorites and point out some of the lyrics which we find particularly haunting or sublime. We also discuss the nature of covering Cohen’s music. From Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” to R.E.M covering First We Take Manhattan. Sex and God and Death. You want it darker? We kill the flame… and then remind you the everything is going to be ok.

“My God! Only one masterpiece. Does this guy have any idea what it takes to produce a single masterpiece? I think anything [Dylan] does merits serious attention.” Leonard Cohen Reacts To Review Criticizing Bob Dylan’s Shot Of Love Album Because It Included “Only One Masterpiece”

Back in the early ’80s, I was having dinner with poet and singer Leonard Cohen, and we were talking about Bob Dylan. Cohen had had dinner with Dylan a few nights earlier, and we were discussing Dylan’s current slump in popularity. He had recently embraced evangelical Christianity and produced a series of religious albums that troubled many fans.Cohen thought the reaction unfair, and was particularly galled by a review blasting Dylan’s album, “Shot of Love,” because it included “only one masterpiece,” which was Dylan’s poignant hymn, “Every Grain of Sand.”

“My God! Only one masterpiece,” Cohen exclaimed, as we ate at a restaurant in Montreal. “Does this guy have any idea what it takes to produce a single masterpiece? I think anything he does merits serious attention.”

From Bob Dylan — A Poet for Our Times by Tom Chaffin (SFGATE: May 23, 2001). Originally posted July 8, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Leonard Cohen Vows Retaliation Against Those Who Described Him As Gloomy


Laughing Len, the merchant of gloom, and all of those pithy (and sometimes ill-meant) descriptions of you (as if those using them could know you) or your work: I can’t imagine they bother you at all. But was there a time when they did? (Apart from anything else, they missed the humour in your work and, in a broader sense, trivialised what you were doing.)

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All those bastards are going to pay for itquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From the Dan Cairns – Sunday Times Culture questionnaire Leonard Cohen sent me Oct 17, 2016. This quote, without the lead-in, was incorporated into Leonard Cohen: Hey, that’s some way to say goodbye by Dan Cairns (The Sunday Times: October 23 2016).

“Why would [Bob Dylan] go for Jesus at a late time like this? … I don’t get the Jesus part.” Leonard Cohen

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Excerpt from Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes Grove Press (April 12, 2002) p 336

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Originally posted Jan 15, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I’m in the prophecy business; but, I work so slowly that the business is almost bankrupt.” Leonard Cohen

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Well, I know I’m in the prophecy business; but, I work so slowly that the business is almost bankrupt. For instance, I began this song about democracy in ’88 and I didn’t get it out till ’92. Well, by the time I got it out, the song was co-opted as a tool for the Democratic Party. It was played on the radio stations in the week of the election and it seemed to fit in with the President Elect’s programme.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen’s The Future Interview by Bob Mackowitz. Transcript from a radio special produced by Interviews Unlimited for Sony Music, 1992. Originally posted May 7, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[Joni Mitchell’s] beauty was a very accurate manifestation of her whole being. She was not just another pretty face, although that, too, of course, at my age, occurred to me, too.” Leonard Cohen

From Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. Sarah Crichton Books (October 17, 2017).

“It’s taken me a long time to wise up.” Leonard Cohen Explains Why “I don’t go in for self-analysis or think about motives.”


For Cohen, Grief Is Joy by Lynn Van Matre (Chicago Tribune: Nov 23, 1975). Photo by  Pete Purnell. Thanks to Rike, who discovered and contributed the article