Leonard Cohen (1965): “I think I’m going to record myself singing my poems” Leonard’s Friend: “Please don’t”

Cohen’s career took a new jog when, one day in the summer of 1965 in a suite in Toronto’s King Edward Hotel, Cohen sat on a sagging couch composing tunes on a mouth organ. In between he tried singing his poems to a friend. In an adjoining bedroom, visible through an open door, a naked couple twisted and moaned through the songs, their concentration on Leonard’s music and their own rhythms clearly affected by middle-class amounts of cocaine and marijuana. Cohen chose to interpret their noises positively. “I think I’m going to record myself singing my poems,” he said. His friend winced at the sound of Cohen’s nasal voice. “Please don’t,” she replied. The admonition showed much esthetic sense but lacked all commercial judgment. In 1967 Cohen released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, and a cult of international dimensions was established. Today his books can be read in 11 languages: book sales are over two million volumes and record sales are around the 9‘/2-million mark. His Selected Poems sold 700,000 copies in the United States alone. “A phenomenal sale for a book of poetry,” says Viking Press President Thomas Ginsburg.


From Leonard Cohen Says That to All the Girls by Barbara Amiel. Maclean’s: Sept 18, 1978. \

“My songs are life and the facts of each day, and I am my songs.” Leonard Cohen

My music is a reflection of my personality, and my personality is a reflection of all that surrounds me. For me, seeing all of this as my work, the most important thing is to be worthy. So, I treat this world that surrounds me with the integrity and dignity necessary to bring it, through me, to everyone else. After that, it is the spiritual state of each person that determines how it will affect her or him. A person could think that I or my songs are sad because of that person’s own spiritual state, because they are not affected by the chaotic emotions that surround us, because they are living in another state, and I don’t mean to say that that state is more superficial or ordinary, on the contrary, it is the way of being forged by each individual, in which they live. But their power to understand will be affected by what they feel, and by the meaning they give to things. My songs are life and the facts of each day, and I am my songs.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From a 1974 interview by Jordi Sierra I Fabra in Barccelona. Published in Leonard Cohen by Alberto Manzano (Antonio Dalmau/G. Gddo: 1978). Photo taken at March 24, 2013 Leonard Cohen Memphis concert by J. Scherr.

Leonard Cohen’s Advice For Success With Women: “Listen well. Then listen some more. And when you think you are done listening, listen some more.”

Leonard’s advice for success with women was even more helpful: “Listen well,” he admonished me, in his husky intense voice, as he shared glasses of whiskey and stared at me with focused intent. “Then listen some more.” I nodded my head and he looked at me during a long, contemplative pause. “And when you think you are done listening, listen some more.”

From What I Learned from My Wise Uncle Leonard Cohen by Jonathan Greenberg (Sonoma Independent: November 14, 2016).

Leonard Cohen On Suzanne Elrod: “She’s the mother of my children, a good mother to them, and whether or not we continue to live apart, this will always be my marriage.”

Leonard Cohen quoted six months after he and Suzanne Elrod, mother of Leonard’s children, Adam & Lorca, separated.

From Leonard Cohen Says That to All the Girls by Barbara Amiel. Maclean’s: Sept 18, 1978.

Leonard Cohen Dedicates 2009 Concert To Belgian Artist Yasmine

“With your permission, I would like to dedicate this concert to the memory of Yasmine …”

Leonard Cohen dedicated the July 4, 2009 Antwerp Concert to Yasmine,1 a well known Belgian singer-songwriter and television personality, who had translated and covered many Leonard Cohen songs.

Yasmine took her own life on June 26, 2009, apparently in the wake of a recently ended marriage to Marianne Dupon, winner of the reality TV show De Mol (The Mole) between August 2003 and April 2009. On 9 March 2007 she had a daughter Ella-Louise. The couple divorced early in 2009. A few months later, Yasmine was found on 25 June 2009 near her sister’s home where she had hanged herself from a tree.2

Video: Leonard Cohen – Closing Antwerp, July 4, 2009

May the spirit of Jasmine rest peacefully

Leonard Cohen

This video of the closing of the Antwerp show features the entire crew singing “Whither Thou Goest” as well as Leonard Cohen’s closing comments, including his invocation of Yasmine’s memory.

Video by Ingrid Van Daele

Video: Yasmine – Dans me

Originally posted July 5, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. Real name: Hilde Rens []
  2. Wikipedia – original sources provided on that site. []

Leonard Cohen, On Being Asked If He Had A Regular Spiritual Practice: “At night, before going to sleep, I reflect on the events of the day. I meditate on how little control that I actually had over any of it.”

From What I Learned from My Wise Uncle Leonard Cohen by Jonathan Greenberg (Sonoma Independent: November 14, 2016)

“I have nothing against the Queen of England. Even in my heart I never resented her for not being Jackie Kennedy. She is, to my mind, a very gallant lady, victimized by whoever it is who designs the tops of her uniforms.” From Beautiful Losers By Leonard Cohen

Photo of Queen Elizabeth II with John Clyne, the Chancellor of the University of British Columbia, during her 1983 royal tour of Canada by SoftwareSimian – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I was unaware of the techniques of collective enterprise” Leonard Cohen On The Making Of Songs Of Leonard Cohen

I had some trouble with my first record in getting the kind of music I wanted because I hadn’t worked with men for a long time. I had worked by myself and I forgot what was necessary to work with men. I forgot how to make your ideas known to other people. The fault was completely mine. I was unaware of the techniques of collective enterprise, I just didn’t know then. I’m a little more aware of them now.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Michael Harris. Duel: Winter 1969.