“I always felt I invented Dylan” Hear 1988 Leonard Cohen Ritz Concert + Pete Fornatale Interview

“I’ve studied all the theologies and all the philosophies, but cheerfulness keeps breaking through.”

This recording includes the July 5, 1988 Leonard Cohen concert at the Ritz in New York and, beginning at 1:39:23, an interview by Pete Fornatale broadcast on Mixed Bag on July 31, 1988 (WNEW FM New York).

Mr. Cohen sang songs that ranged across the breadth of his career, from ”Suzanne” to ”Everybody Knows,” to two versions of his recent song, ”First We Take Manhattan,” in which the fashion world and drugs are held up as symbols of the terminal decay of New York. But the turning point of the evening was Mr. Cohen’s spare voice-and-guitar rendition of ”If It Be Your Will,” one of his two or three finest meditations. A prayer for mercy murmured to the void by a world wearing ”rags of light all dressed to kill,” it received a haunting interpretation in Mr. Cohen’s sepulchral bass-baritone growl.1

The interview includes Leonard Cohen discussing the influence of Bob Dylan and the assistance lent by Judy Collins and Jennifer Warnes, his “cheerfulness keeps breaking through” reference (erroneously attributed to Jonson), his multiple revisions that dramatically changed I Can’t Forget, his first public appearance as a singer, his “If I knew where good songs came from, I go there more often” comment, his religious symbolism and the notion of being punished for sin, the difference between a Ladies’ Man and a Romantic, and saying goodbye.

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  1. Review/Pop; Leonard Cohen Reflects Darkly On the World by Stephen Holden. New York Times: July 9, 1988 []

Vietnam Version Of Leonard Cohen’s Diamonds In The Mine – Montreux 1985

I told you all about it in the days of Vietnam
when your poets marched for Uncle Ho
And your sons for Uncle Sam
But which side you’re gonna take now,
which song you’re gonna sing?
With the mega stench of corpses that is blowin’ in the wind

Diamonds In The Mine was released on the 1971 Songs Of Love And Hate album. By 1979, Leonard Cohen’s live performances featured additional lines referencing Vietnam. A version of the song that begins with verse shown above (with the reference to Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind) became the standard in his 1985 concerts. Tom Sakic once told me the 1985 Montreux performance was Leonard’s best ever – and, that’s good enough for me.

Update: See Video: Leonard Cohen’s More Country Version Of Diamonds In The Mine (Vietnam Version) – Warsaw 1985

Leonard Cohen – Diamonds In The Mine
Montreux: July 9, 1985
The video should automatically begin with Diamonds In The Mine

For comparison, the album version can be played below.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Dominique BOILE

Leonard Cohen On His Image (And Bob Dylan’s)

People have this image of you. If somebody says ‘Bob Dylan’, you think ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’. I don’t resist it, I tell you, I feel lucky to have any kind of image, because the scene is ferociously competitive; there is so much good stuff around. To be able to have any kind of identity at all, and one which enables you to make a living–that’s always been a concern of mine. My records have never sold in those vast quantities; until very recently, they sold very modestly, and they still sell modestly in relationship to the people who are considered pop icons. So, yes, ‘Suzanne’, ‘melancholy’, whatever the designations are, I’m ready to live with them, even embrace them.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen…What’s Your Problem? Doom and Gloom by Patrick Humphries (Vox: February, 1993), Originally posted Nov 7, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Bob Dylan And Bob Dylan On Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s comment about Bob Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize, “It’s like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain,” is a notable but hardly exclusive manifestation of the interface between the preeminent bards of contemporary music. Since the 1960s, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan shared what Larry “Ratso” Sloman has called “a relationship of tremendous mutual respect.”

A collection of posts about the interface between Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan, including their opinions of each other, their interactions, and their occasional differences can be found at ce

Credits: Leonard’s evaluation of Bob Dylan is from a 1994 Q Magazine interview (photo courtesy of Leonard Cohen); Bob Dylan’s assessment of Leonard is from the 2016 New Yorker Leonard Cohen profile by David Remnick (photo by Alberto Cabello via Wikipedia Commons).

Leonard Cohen Talks About How Bob Dylan Did And Did Not Impact His Musical Career



From Lenny Plays It Cool by Bud Scoppa (Music Connection, April 6-19, 1987)

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

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

“Isn’t that wonderful when all the pieces fit?” Leonard Cohen Talks About The Impact Of Songs That Resonate

It’s just how they [songs] resonate. You know they resonate with a truth that is hard to locate but which is operating with some force in your life. I often feel that about a Dylan song or a song even with Edith Piaf…the words are going too fast for me to really understand them in French but you feel that they are talking about something that is true, that you can’t locate by yourself and someone has located it for you and you just feel like you’ve put in the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle for that moment. That a moment has been clarified. The moment that you’re in at the moment that you’re listening to it. Yeah, the pieces fit…Isn’t that wonderful when all the pieces fit?quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen’s response to the comment by Lian Lunson, director of the I’m Your Man documentary (2005), that The Traitor was one of her favorite songs but “I can’t get my hands around what it’s about.” From Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters by Jeff Burger, (Chicago Review Press, Apr 1, 2014). Photo by Dominique BOILE.