Leonard Cohen Quotes Dylan: “As Dylan says in one of his songs, ‘I know my song well before I start singing’ That’s usually the case because it takes so long to really know it.”

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

Note: The Dylan song from which Mr Cohen quotes is, of course, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

Leonard Cohen-Bob 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

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

University of Cape Town Professor Lesley Marx To Lecture On Music Of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan

Prof Marx will host two lectures on Cohen and Dylan, as a part of UCT’s Winter School programme, on 5 and 12 August. She says her lectures aim to link their work without making any insidious comparisons.

More information at Professor explores meaning behind music of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan (Cape Talk: 4 August 2017)

Credit Due Department: UCT photo by Adrian Frith – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons

Bob Dylan’s “Ballad Of A Thin Man” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. There was “The Great Pretender,” “Cross Over the Road.” I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.

– Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Renik Van den Eynde points out that Leonard Cohen’s admiring use of Dylan’s lyrics from The Ballad Of A Thin Man qualifies it for Leonard Cohen’s jukebox:

I don’t know what is happening, and I don’t care what is happening, to tell you the truth, it’s none of my business. I know that the explanations that are available have their various degrees of interest, but nothing seems to be speaking to me personally about what is happening. I tend to, you know, let my attention wander from the various channels of information, whether they be newspapers, television, art, song, literature and even conversation; so something is happening, as Dylan says, but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones. So that’s the way I feel. So what is happening or what has happened to me or my writing or my lyrics, I’m not interested in the explanation, even my own, I’m only interested in the feeling that is just answering the appetite to describe moments and feelings that somehow has not been described in what is available.1

The referenced Dylan lyrics follow:

Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?
You raise up your head and you ask, “Is this where it is?”
And somebody points to you and says, “It’s his”

Bob Dylan – Ballad of a Thin Man
Desert Trip, Coachella: Oct 14, 2016

Bob Dylan Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Leonard Cohen-Bob 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

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  1. From Interview with Leonard Cohenby Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005 []

“I love everything that Dylan does and I love to hear the old guys lay it out. Love and Theft produces tremendous energy.” Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, on being asked what he “thought of Love and Theft – Bob Dylan’s new album” in the Sony 2001 online chat. Thanks to Tom Sakic, who alerted me to this.

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

“It is agreeable to see [my daughter] go back to school with her satchel of CDs including Dylan, the Grateful Dead, & myself.” Leonard Cohen 1992

From Cohen’s Reputation For Solemnity Ill-Gained By Mary Campbell. AP Story, published in The Hour (Norwalk, CT): Mar 28, 1992. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Dylan’s a Picasso–that exuberance, range, and assimilation of the whole history of music.” Leonard Cohen


quoteup2
Most music criticism is in the nineteenth century. It’s so far behind, say, the criticism of painting. It’s still based on nineteenth century art–cows beside a stream and trees and ‘I know what I like.’ There’s no concession to the fact that Dylan might be a more sophisticated singer than Whitney Houston, that he’s probably the most sophisticated singer we’ve had in a generation. Nobody is identifying out popular singers like a Matisse or Picasso. Dylan’s a Picasso–that exuberance, range, and assimilation of the whole history of music.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From an interview with Mark Rowland published in Musician (1988)

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