“The trouble that I find is that I have to finish the verse before I can discard it.” Leonard Cohen On Revising His Songs

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The only advice I have for young songwriters is that if you stick with a song long enough, it will yield. But long enough is not any fixed duration, its not a week or two, its not a month or two, its not necessarily even a year or two. If a song is to yield you might have to stay with it for years and years. ‘Hallelujah’ was at least five years. I have about 80 verses. I just took verses out of the many that established some sort of coherence. The trouble that I find is that I have to finish the verse before I can discard it. So that lengthens the process considerably. I filled two notebooks with the song, and I remember being on the floor of the Royalton Hotel, on the carpet in my underwear, banging my head on the floor and saying, ‘I can’t finish this song.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen on Hallelujah by Neil McCormick. The Telegraph: December 19th, 2008. Photo of Leonard Cohen taken at the 2008 Fredericton show by J. Gordon Anderson.

“Coming up with the words is very hard. Hard on the heart, hard on the head and it just drives you mad.” Leonard Cohen On Writing

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Have you always found it easier to write about women?

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I’ve never found it easy to write. Period. I mean, I don’t want to whine about it or anything but… it’s a bitch! It’s terrible work. I’m very disciplined in that I can settle down into the work situation but coming up with the words is very hard. Hard on the heart, hard on the head and it just drives you mad. Before you know it, you’re crawling across the carpet in your underwear trying to find a rhyme for ‘orange.’ It’s a terrible, cruel job. But I’m not complaining.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Porridge? Lozenge? Syringe? by Adrian Deevoy/ Q Magazine: 1991. Found at LeonardCohenFiles.

“My standard of living deteriorated considerably as I made money” Leonard Cohen


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My standard of living deteriorated considerably as I made money, and that was a kind of trap for me because I noticed that before I had any money I was really much better.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Strange, Sad and Beautiful World of Leonard Cohen By Andrew Furnival. Petticoat: December 30, 1972. Originally posted Oct 26, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[Suzanne] has a real place in my so-called career, and people do want to hear it… It can stand up.” Leonard Cohen 1988


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You go in and out of affection for old material, and you’d like to be loved for things you’re doing now. But it [Suzanne] has a real place in my so-called career, and people do want to hear it… It can stand up.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen: The Eloquence, The Songs Still Floating On The Air by Richard Harrington (Washington Post; Published in Gainesville Sun: Dec 25, 1988)

“These poems [in Book Of Longing] were written in the midst of all this phony talk about brotherhood, new visions, and new possibilities” Leonard Cohen


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These poems [in Book Of Longing] were written in the midst of all this phony talk about brotherhood, new visions, and new possibilities when the hustlers had already moved in and taken over the revolution and you know, this stuff was being sold in head shops and it had pretty well evaporated.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.

“Only when you have children are you forced to surrender thinking exclusively of yourself and worry about someone else. If you attempt to respond to a child, you can never think of yourself in the same way.” Leonard Cohen On The Impact Of Having Children

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Your children, Adam and Lorca, were born then. What was your reaction?

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Only when you have children are you forced to surrender thinking exclusively of yourself and worry about someone else. If you attempt to respond to a child, you can never think of yourself in the same way. You stop being the center of your drama, which becomes secondary in the light of your children’s demands, of their urgency. I immediately understood that the trap had slammed shut. [Laughs] There are many wonderful aspects, of course, the beauty is indisputable. But the destruction of the image you have of yourself is inevitable. There are many things I did not like about myself. I was very selfish, I only thought about myself. I did not accept the fact that other beings had a legitimate claim to my attention.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate. Photo by GorupdebesanezOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

John Hammond: “You got it, Leonard.” Leonard Cohen: “I didn’t quite know whether he meant a contract or the ‘gift,’ but it certainly made me feel very good.”

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I sang him [John Hammond] six or seven songs. He didn’t say anything between them. At the end of those six or seven songs, he said, “You got it, Leonard.” I didn’t quite know whether he meant a contract, or the ‘gift,’ but it certainly made me feel very good.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen 1967

 

From The John Hammond Years: Interview with John Hammond & Leonard Cohen broadcast on BBC, Sept 20, 1986. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles.Photo Credit: York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp: ASC01709.

DrHGuy Note: At the time, John Hammond was Columbia Records’ leading artist and repertory executive, having discovered and signed Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, and Bob Dylan. Hammond would later sign Bruce Springsteen to a recording contract. He also, of course, signed Leonard to Columbia Records, which would be his record label, except for Death Of A Ladies’ Man (Warner Brothers) and Various Positions, which Columbia initially rejected and was subsequently picked up by the independent label Passport Records (the album was finally included in the catalog in 1990 when Columbia released the Cohen discography on compact disc) for the rest of his life.

Note: Originally posted March 28, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[Becoming a bohemian] was most charitably considered a phase the child would grow out of. But in my case, I didn’t grow out of it.” Leonard Cohen

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Becoming what they call a bohemian was not encouraged by families like my own. It was most charitably considered a phase the child would grow out of. But in my case, I didn’t grow out of it. It got worse and worse. And so I find myself in the sorry predicament…quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From 7 Reasons Leonard Cohen Is the Next-Best Thing to God by David Browne. Entertainment Weekly, Jan 8, 1993.