Bob Dylan on Leonard Cohen: “When people talk about Leonard, they fail to mention his melodies, which to me, along with his lyrics, are his greatest genius”

bob_dylan_-_azkena_rock_festival_2010_2

quoteup2
When people talk about Leonard, they fail to mention his melodies, which to me, along with his lyrics, are his greatest genius. Even the counterpoint lines—they give a celestial character and melodic lift to every one of his songs. As far as I know, no one else comes close to this in modern music. Even the simplest song, like ‘The Law,’ which is structured on two fundamental chords, has counterpoint lines that are essential, and anybody who even thinks about doing this song and loves the lyrics would have to build around the counterpoint lines.quotedown2

Bob Dylan

 

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

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

Credit Due Department: Photo by Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz – Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia

Bob Dylan on Leonard Cohen: “These are all great songs, deep and truthful as ever and multidimensional, surprisingly melodic, & they make you think & feel”

bob_dylan_-_azkena_rock_festival_2010_2

 

quoteup2
I like all of Leonard’s songs, early or late, ‘Going Home,’ ‘Show Me the Place,’ ‘The Darkness.’ These are all great songs, deep and truthful as ever and multidimensional, surprisingly melodic, and they make you think and feel. I like some of his later songs even better than his early ones. Yet there’s a simplicity to his early ones that I like, too.quotedown2

Bob Dylan

 

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

Credit Due Department: Photo by Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz – Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia

“[Leonard Cohen & Irving Berlin] hear melodies that most of us can only strive for” Bob Dylan On Leonard Cohen’s Musicianship

bob_dylan_-_azkena_rock_festival_2010_2

quoteup2
I see no disenchantment in Leonard’s lyrics at all. There’s always a direct sentiment, as if he’s holding a conversation and telling you something, him doing all the talking, but the listener keeps listening. He’s very much a descendant of Irving Berlin, maybe the only songwriter in modern history that Leonard can be directly related to. Berlin’s songs did the same thing. Berlin was also connected to some kind of celestial sphere. And, like Leonard, he probably had no classical-music training, either. Both of them just hear melodies that most of us can only strive for. Berlin’s lyrics also fell into place and consisted of half lines, full lines at surprising intervals, using simple elongated words. Both Leonard and Berlin are incredibly crafty. Leonard particularly uses chord progressions that seem classical in shape. He is a much more savvy musician than you’d think.quotedown2

Bob Dylan

 

Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016). Photo by Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz – Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia

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

Leonard Cohen On Bob Dylan: “He put the word back into the jukebox, which is really where you have to have it, or at least where I like to have it.”

jukebox700

Cited in Michael Ondaatje, Leonard Cohen (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970). Found in Introduction to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen – Rock Poets by David Boucher (New York: Bloomsbury Academic,April 1, 2004)

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

Iggy Pop Compares Leonard Cohen’s Concerts To Stooges’ & Responds To Dylan’s Assessment Of “I Wanna Be Your Dog”

1200px-The_Stooges_&_Iggy_Pop,_Poland,_Katowice_Off_Festval_2012-08-04

The Stooges & Iggy Pop, Poland, Katowice Off Festival – 2012

Did you catch any of Leonard Cohen’s recent shows?

quoteup2
No, it was terrible, because the Stooges European tour was three days behind him everywhere we went. We’d get to town and they’d say, ‘Leonard Cohen was fantastic and sensitive, and played for three hours!’ I’d say, ‘Well, we’re the Stooges, our typical song has 11 words, and after an hour and a quarter you’ll want us to leave!’quotedown2

Iggy Pop

 

Ever hang out with Dylan?

quoteup2
Once, at a dinner at Yoko’s, and again at a birthday party at Bob’s place in Malibu. Don Was and Leonard Cohen dragged me out there. Bob was a good guy. I haven’t heard it myself, but I heard on a ‘dog’-themed segment on his radio show he actually played ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog.’ [Imitating Dylan] ‘Here’s one of the best dog songs ever written…’ That made my life, dude.quotedown2

Iggy Pop

From Q&A: Iggy Pop by Austin Scaggs (Rolling Stone: April 10, 2010)

Credit Due Department: Photo by Regan1973 – Own work, GFDL, via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted February 8, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I discovered Leonard Cohen, who had a literary approach to lyrics.” Kazuo Ishiguro On Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan

parisr

Excerpted from Kazuo Ishiguro, The Art of Fiction No. 196, interviewed by Susannah Hunnewell. Paris Review Spring 2008 No. 184

INTERVIEWER

What was your next obsession, after detective stories?

ISHIGURO

Rock music. After Sherlock Holmes, I stopped reading until my early twenties. But I’d played the piano since I was five. I started playing the guitar when I was fifteen, and I started listening to pop records—pretty awful pop records—when I was about eleven. I thought they were wonderful. The first record that I really liked was Tom Jones singing “The Green, Green Grass of Home.” Tom Jones is a Welshman, but “The Green, Green Grass of Home” is a cowboy song. He was singing songs about the cowboy world I knew from TV.

I had a miniature Sony reel-to-reel that my father brought me from Japan, and I would tape directly from the speaker of the radio, an early form of downloading music. I would try to work out the words from this very bad recording with buzzes. Then when I was thirteen, I bought John Wesley Harding, which was my first Dylan album, right when it came out.

INTERVIEWER

What did you like about it?

ISHIGURO

The words. Bob Dylan was a great lyricist, I knew that straightaway. Two things that I was always confident about, even in those days, were what was a good lyric and what was a good cowboy film. With Dylan, I suppose it was my first contact with stream-of-consciousness or surreal lyrics. And I discovered Leonard Cohen, who had a literary approach to lyrics. He had published two novels and a few volumes of poetry. For a Jewish guy, his imagery was very Catholic. Lot of saints and Madonnas. He was like a French chanteur. I liked the idea that a musician could be utterly self-sufficient. You write the songs yourself, sing them yourself, orchestrate them yourself. I found this appealing, and I began to write songs.

INTERVIEWER

What was your first song?

ISHIGURO

It was like a Leonard Cohen song. I think the opening line was, “Will your eyes never reopen, on the shore where we once lived and played.”

INTERVIEWER

Was it a love song?

ISHIGURO

Part of the appeal of Dylan and Cohen was that you didn’t know what the songs were about. You’re struggling to express yourself, but you’re always being confronted with things you don’t fully understand and you have to pretend to understand them. That’s what life is like a lot of the time when you’re young, and you’re ashamed to admit it. Somehow, their lyrics seem to embody this state.

Also see

Note: Originally posted Sep 24, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric