Judy Collins Talks About Bob Dylan And Leonard Cohen, Also Covers Joan Baez

Judy Collins on Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen

At the July 26, 2009 Folks on the Island concert on Governor’s Island, Judy Collins recalls some of her early experiences in the folk-singing community, including her first meetings with Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

Judy Collins Sings Diamonds and Rust

While most of the folk songs Collins performed at this concert were those with special connections to her, “Diamonds and Rust” is a Joan Baez song released in 1975 which deals with the romantic relationship between Baez and Bob Dylan.

The frame of  “Diamonds and Rust” is an unexpected phone call from the singer’s lover of 10 years ago. The lyrics of the second verse include these lines:

My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

And the final verse reads,

Now you’re telling me
You’re not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It’s all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid

For her 1995 performance of the song as a duet with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Baez changed the end lines,

And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid


And if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
Well, I’ll take the diamonds1

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  1. Wikipedia []

Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, & Leonard Cohen

[Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan have] known each other for a long time, and I know there’s a lot of respect for each other. Jennifer Warnes told me a story once that there was a BMI [Broadcast Music, Inc] dinner once, they were honouring Bob Dylan. And Leonard was there and Jennifer was there. And at one point, Bob Dylan took Elizabeth Taylor by the hand and said, ‘Come, let me introduce you to a real poet…’quotedown2

Roscoe Beck


Leonard Cohen: Behind The Scenes, Part 6! by Michael Bonner (Uncut: November 19, 2008)

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

“Yes, I was the woman from I’m Your Man” – Dominique Issermann Talks About Leonard Cohen


I never have believed that there was a parallel world
more interesting than the real world.

The Dominique Issermann Interview

The excerpt is from Champ Libre by Anne Diatkine (Le Temps, 25 June 2012). The French to English translation was made possible by Coco Éclair. I have placed Dominique Issermann’s words in bold italics for the convenience of readers.

She noted that, even setting Leonard [Cohen] aside, she hadn’t photographed just  women. It is enormously false, look [showing me another photo] – Gérard Depardieu before Going Places.

Leonard Cohen is, however, one of the only recurring men who is not photographed like a reflection in a mirror, but in the process of moving, that is to say, dreaming, writing, putting on his shoes, doing nothing, in short, living.  She says: Yes, I was the woman from I’m Your Man [the I’m Your Man album is dedicated to her], which I would have never thought to mention publicly if some biographies weren’t out.  I learned that he was very depressed when we met on Hydra.  I wasn’t at all aware of it, we laughed so much.”  How does the story end?  “In one fell swoop.  Like water flowing from a basin.

Dominique Issermann is not chronological.  My love affairs are my only timekeeper.  I forget the dates of the last decade.  I could say:  “This picture was when I was with such and such person.”  When there is no love, I am incapable of situating myself in time.

She just finished the clips of Leonard Cohen’s last album with an iPhone.  It’s a little magic box.  It allows me to become what I wanted to be as a child. 1

Credit Due Department: Photo by Dominique BOILE

Note: Originally posted July 8, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Excerpt in original French follows:

    La troisième, c’est la fidélité: qu’elles s’appellent Anne Rohart, Isabelle Adjani ou Laetitia Casta, qu’elles soient connues ou pas, les mêmes personnes reviennent, de décennie en décennie. Quand elle lie amitié, elle ne rompt pas. On lui fait remarquer qu’elle n’a photographié que des femmes, à part Leonard Cohen. «C’est archi faux, regardez. Gérard Depardieu avant Les Valseuses.» Leonard Cohen est cependant l’un des seuls hommes récurrents, qui ne soit pas photographié en reflet dans un miroir, mais en train d’agir, c’est-à-dire de rêver, d’écrire, de mettre ses chaussures, de ne rien faire, bref, de vivre. Elle dit: «Oui, j’ai été la femme de I’m Your Man [titre d’un album qui lui est dédié, ndlr], ce que je n’aurais jamais pensé évoquer publiquement si des biographies n’étaient pas sorties. J’y ai appris qu’il était très déprimé quand on s’est rencontrés à Hydra. Je n’en avais aucune conscience, on riait tellement.» Comment s’arrête une histoire? «D’un seul coup. Comme l’eau qui s’écoule d’un bassin.»

    Dominique Issermann n’est pas chronologique. «Mes aventures amoureuses sont ma seule horloge. J’oublie les dates à une décennie près. Je pourrais dire: «Cette photo-là, c’était quand j’étais avec telle personne.» Quand il n’y a pas d’amour, je suis incapable de me repérer.» Elle vient de terminer les clips du dernier album de Leonard Cohen avec un iPhone. Quitte à laisser tomber l’argentique, autant changer radicalement de support. «C’est la petite boîte magique. Elle me permet de devenir ce que je voulais être enfant.» []

Leonard Cohen is Artist X; Bob Dylan is Artist Y

cdiThe latest entry in the Leonard Cohen is Artist X; Bob Dylan is Artist Y was published yesterday:

Were Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen the Mozart and Beethoven of 20th-Century Folk Rock? By Sara Schabas (Musical Toronto: February 22, 2017

Before that was

Leonard Cohen is John Donne to Bob Dylan’s Shakespeare by Edward Docx (The Guardian: Nov 19, 2016)

And Leonard himself put it this way:

“Dylan’s achievement is so monumental. He was the Picasso. I’m the Matisse. I love Matisse, but I’m in awe of Picasso.” Leonard Cohen1

And, just to mix things up, let’s change Bob Dylan to Phil Collins:

In 1995 Cohen’s manager, Kelley Lynch, put together Tower of Song, a set of his compositions sung by bigger stars including Sting and Bono. She asked Phil Collins, who turned her down.

Cohen himself sent Collins a fax, saying: “Would Beethoven refuse the invitation of Mozart?” Collins faxed back: “No, unless Beethoven was on a world tour at the time.”

Cohen understood: “It’s kind of a pain in the ass, to think about somebody else’s dismal songs when you’re not even in the studio.”2

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


  1. From “Cohen’s Future Is Now” by Jim Slotek: Toronto Sun, November 19, 1992 []
  2. From  Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen’s head? by Tim de Lisle (The Guardian, 17 September 2004) []

Leonard Cohen Interprets Bob Dylan’s Comparison: “As far as I’m concerned, Leonard, you’re Number 1. I’m Number Zero.”


After a while, he [Bob Dylan] told Cohen that a famous songwriter of the day had told him, “O.K., Bob, you’re Number 1, but I’m Number 2.”

Then Dylan says to me, ‘As far as I’m concerned, Leonard, you’re Number 1. I’m Number Zero.’ Meaning, as I understood it at the time—and I was not ready to dispute it—that his work was beyond measure and my work was pretty good.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016)

“One is not meant to understand the meaning in every song. Some work best if listeners just sit back & allow themselves to be ravished” Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen 1988 (photo by Pete Purnell)

I don’t think it’s necessary to love poetry to be a fine human being. I think there is a lot of ways we can get our information that has nothing to do with art and if somebody can’t penetrate Dylan’s imagery or my imagery then let them knock it aside. Besides, one is not meant to understand the meaning in every song. Some work best if the listeners just sit back and allow themselves to be ravished by the material.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)