Ted Burke Compares Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan As Lyricists

Cohen tends the words he uses more than Dylan does; his language is strange and abstruse at times, but beyond the oddity of the existences he sets upon his canvas there exist an element that is persuasive, alluring, masterfully wrought with a writing, from the page alone, that blends all the attendant aspects of Cohen’s stressed worldliness– sexuality, religious ecstasy, the burden of his whiteness– into a whole , subtly argued, minutely detailed, expertly layered with just so many fine, exacting touches of language. His songs, which I fine the finest of the late 20th century in English–only Dylan, Costello, Mitchell and Paul Simon have comparable bodies of work–we find more attention given to the effect of every word and phrase that’s applied to his themes, his story lines. In many ways I would say Cohen is a better lyricist than Dylan because he’s a better writer over all. Unlike Dylan, who has been indiscriminate for the last thirty years about the quality of work he’s released, there is scarcely anything in Cohen’s songbook you would characterize as a cast-off.quotedown2

Ted Burke

Bob Dylan Is Not A Poet by Ted Burke (Ted Burke – Like It Or Not: September 6, 2007)

Leonard Cohen, On Being Asked “What do you think of Bob Dylan?” (1994)

The premier songwriter of our generation. Still and always. He happens to be resting. He deserves a rest but have no fear, he will be back with much information and data about repose in the ’90s.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From “Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen” in Q Magazine, September 1994.

Note: Originally posted February 23, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[The Leonard Cohen concert] felt like you were with an old friend that you hadn’t seen in a long time and you were both genuinely happy to see each other.”

Excerpt from My Experience Seeing Bob Dylan vs. Leonard Cohen (a comparison of the author’s experiences at the 2012 Bob Dylan Vancouver show and the 2013 Leonard Cohen Victoria concert) by Atticus. Posted March 11, 2013 at Artificial [Un]Intelligence.

Taking in [Bob Dylan’s lack of stage presence] with his sometimes awkwardly reimagined oldies, his tendency to not sing and instead group lyrics together into a hurried spoken word style and his complete lack of audience interaction gave the show a very cold feeling, like we weren’t welcome. When you charge $90 and up for tickets you have an obligation to that audience; you do not just get to show up and shit all over your fans and your material (which he clearly doesn’t respect any more) and just think that’s okay. The shear lack of effort on his part was appalling. Learn to play the piano properly if you’re going to solo on it instead of on the harmonica Bob! While I still enjoy his older material, it is impossible for me to listen to it the same way now.

Thankfully, on March 6th at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Center, my faith in old performers was reignited with a stunning performance by Leonard Cohen. It had the complete opposite effect on me that Bob did: I love him even more as a person and I appreciate his material even more than before. Leonard was an absolute gentleman. … More than anything, after the Bob Dylan concert I just wanted to have that feeling of welcomeness. Leonard would tell stories about experiences he’s had in Victoria and sometimes would crack a smile when the audience giggled or cheered during certain lyrics. One of the most hilarious moments of the night was during his performance of the “Tower of Song” where we cheered after he played the signature piano lick, to which he laughed and said “are you pulling this old man’s leg? You think that’s the only thing I can do on this?” He then started running his elbow up and down the keyboard before continuing the song flawlessly. It felt like you were with an old friend that you hadn’t seen in a long time and you were both genuinely happy to see each other.

Note: Originally posted March 11, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s 5 Best Collaborations According To The Houston Post


Cohen Collaborators: Jennifer Warnes, Sharon Robinson, Phil Spector, Webb Sisters, Bob Dylan & Alan Ginsberg

Read the full story at Leonard Cohen’s Five Best Collaborations by Corey Deiterman (Houston Press: Sep. 17 2014). Be aware that The Houston Post subscribes to a broad definition of “collaboration.” .

Note: Originally posted September 17, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Bob Dylan’s “I And I” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox


Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. … 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.

Bob Dylan And Leonard Cohen Talk Shop


One of the anecdotes in the standard catechism all good Leonard Cohen acolytes learn has to do with the contrast in the time required by Bob Dylan and Cohen to compose a song. The story appears in several Cohen interviews. The following iteration is from Leonard Cohen, Los Angeles 1992, a section of “Songwriters On Songwriting” by Paul Zollo:

That [“Hallelujah”] was a song that took me [Leonard Cohen] a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years.

Then I praise a song of his, “I and I,” and asked him how long it had taken and he said, “Fifteen minutes.” [Laughter]

Bob Dylan – I And I
From Infidels

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

Note: Originally posted April 2, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’s” Allen Ginsberg On Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen


Many articles refer to this quotation, but this excerpt from Songwriters On Songwriting by Paul Zollo has the advantage of offering context:

Like Dylan, Simon, and few others, Leonard Cohen has expanded the vocabulary of the popular song into the domain of poetry. And like both Simon and Dylan, Cohen will work and rework his songs until he achieves a kind of impossible perfection. He didn’t need Dylan’s influence, however, to inspire his poetic approach to songwriting. He’d already written much poetry and two highly acclaimed novels by the time Dylan emerged, leading the poet Allen Ginsberg to comment, “Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’s.”

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 Elsa Dorfman – Transferred from en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted April 29, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric