“I still don’t have a clue / except that I was lonely / and there was only you” From The Flame By Leonard Cohen

The Flame by Leonard Cohen is divided into sections:

  • Poems
  • Notebooks
  • Lyrics
  • Drawings

Of these divisions, I find Notebooks the most intriguing because (1) most of the selections are new to me and (2) many of the entries resonate with issues raised in Leonard’s later work.

More information at The Flame By Leonard Cohen.

Q: Who is your best male friend and your best female friend? Leonard Cohen: “My 12-inch dick” + Summary Of Leonard’s Genital Self-Assessments

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

On the other hand,

If only my genitals didn’t float
When I relaxed in the bath
And we both looked down and we both agreed
It’s stupid to be a man

From The Good Fight by Leonard Cohen, published in Stranger Music (1993)

More About Leonard’s Genital Self-assessment:

“Doctor, I have this problem. It’s called aging. Can you do something about it? If not, I am going to die.” Leonard Cohen, On Being Introduced To A Physician

Leonard had a dark sense of humor. When I introduced him to a young Canadian doctor friend, he said, ‘Doctor, I have this problem. It’s called aging. Can you do something about it? If not, I am going to die.’

What I Learned from My Wise Uncle Leonard Cohen by Jonathan Greenberg (Sonoma Independent: November 14, 2016). Thanks go to Cohencentric viewer, Uli, who, accompanied by her Swiss sidekick, attended the Leonard Cohen Colmar Concert where she shot the stellar photo atop this post.

If You’re Only Going To Read One Review Of Leonard Cohen’s The Flame, Make It The Flame Burns On By Ian McGillis

The flame burns on: Leonard Cohen has the last word in his posthumous book by Ian McGillis (Montreal Gazette: October 6, 2018) is, by far, the most thorough of the reviews of The Flame I’ve found and one of the most perspicuous.

It outlines, for example, the roles played by Alexandra Pleshoyano and Robert Faggen in curating and organizing the book:

Clearing the technical hurdles, Pleshoyano and Faggen put together a sequence of previously unpublished poems, lyrics for the late-period albums (often slightly but enticingly different from what ended up being sung), reproductions from the notebooks, and other late-life documents. Resisting the temptation to provide extensive marginalia and footnotes — “That would have made it an academic book, and that’s the last thing he would have wanted,” Pleshoyano said — they have assembled an illuminating and seamlessly readable volume that will be manna to Cohen fans worldwide.

McGillis goes on to describe Leonard’s drawings published in the volume:

What’s likely to cause the most surprise, though, is the visual component of The Flame. More than a hundred drawings and paintings from Cohen’s sketchbooks enhance the text, chosen by Pleshoyano from among roughly 400 provided. Many are self-portraits, though the designation doesn’t indicate their range: in 2003 alone Cohen did a self-portrait every day, in a variety of media, often with accompanying words expressing the first thoughts that came into his mind upon waking up.

He also discusses each of Leonard’s first six poetry collections (Let Us Compare Mythologies, 1956, The Spice-Box of Earth, 1961, Flowers for Hitler, 1964, Parasites of Heaven, 1966, The Energy of Slaves, 1972) and two novels (The Favourite Game, 1963 and Beautiful Losers, 1966) that McClelland & Stewart is republishing along with The Flame:

To coincide with The Flame, McClelland & Stewart is providing a fine corrective for those whose Cohen shelves are in mismatched disarray: a uniform edition, sold in separate volumes, of his first six poetry collections and two novels. While each is its own beast, it’s striking how they can also be read as a single entity, instalments in an unbroken lifelong project. Add to these The Flame, and the collections Book of Mercy and Book of Longing, and you’ll pretty much have the lot.

The entire review is accessible at The flame burns on: Leonard Cohen has the last word in his posthumous book. Highly recommended.

Leonard Cohen Describes How John Hammond Signed Him To Columbia Records – 1967


I was staying at the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street [in New York City]. We met in the lobby and he [John Hammond] took me down to a restaurant that no longer exists, on 23rd Street, and he bought me a very nice lunch. We didn’t really talk about anything, in particular. He seemed to be putting me at my ease, which I appreciated very much at the moment. Then, he said, ‘Let’s go back to the hotel, and maybe you’ll play me some songs.’ So, we went up to my room in the Chelsea Hotel, and it’s hard to play for somebody, just cold like that; but, if you could do it for anybody, it would be John Hammond, because he made it easy. I believe I sang him the songs that were on my very first record. I believe I sang the ‘Master Song’ and the ‘Stranger Song,’ ‘Suzanne,’ and a song that I never recorded about rivers. I don’t remember… [suddenly recalling] ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye,’ I sang for him.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


The John Hammond Years: Interview with John Hammond & Leonard Cohen broadcast on BBC, Sept 20, 1986. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles. Photo Credit: York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp: ASC01709.

DrHGuy Note: At the time, John Hammond was Columbia Records’ leading artist and repertory executive, having discovered and signed Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, and Bob Dylan. Hammond would later sign Bruce Springsteen to a recording contract. He also, of course, signed Leonard to Columbia Records, which would be his record label, except for Death Of A Ladies’ Man (Warner Brothers) and Various Positions, which Columbia initially rejected and was subsequently picked up by the independent label Passport Records (the album was finally included in the catalog in 1990 when Columbia released the Cohen discography on compact disc) for the rest of his life.

Originally posted March 28, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video Delight: Leonard Cohen Performs I Tried To Leave You, Featuring Band Members In Spotlight – Paris 2012

Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You
Paris: Sept 29, 2012
Video by

During Leonard’s final tours, I Tried To Leave You was the song that offered his band members the opportunity to show off their talents. While all the spotlight solos are a treat, the performances by Alex Bublitchi (beginning at 2:20), Sharon Robinson (beginning at 3:38), and – especially – Rafael Gayol (beginning at 6:12) are particularly noteworthy.

Note: The best available video of each of the 40 songs performed during the 2012 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour can be found at the Best Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist.

Originally posted Oct 19, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Whatever erotic fantasy I had had about the whole situation, evaporated very very quickly – everybody had different purposes, theirs was fatigue and rest, and mine was some kind of bewilderment as usual about the whole situation… That was the first time I ever wrote a lyric from beginning to end without any revision.” Leonard Cohen On Sisters Of Mercy

I remember reading various accounts of the song ‘Sisters of Mercy.’ I also don’t remember anything, except the snowstorm in Edmonton, it was very very – and I’m used to the snow, I come from Montreal. I know a lot about snow, but this I remember as a particularly ferocious storm, and I don’t know whether it was the part of Edmonton that I was in or the way it was laid out or the way the wind would come out right down from the north, but it was so strong that I had to seek shelter from the street. And I saw a doorway of a small building and I went in there, and there were two girls there also waiting till the storm laid down a bit, and I had a little room in a hotel which was called the… I have forgotten the name of it, I have to check some other persons’ account of the story. It looked out on the Edmonton river, just a little wooden hotel, nothing fancy. I think I was playing at a coffee shop nearby. Anyway, I invited the two young women to my room, and they were happy, because they were on the road and couldn’t afford a room. And they were road weary and there was a large bed and they fell asleep immediately in this big bed. And there was an easy chair beside the radiator right next to the window, and there was moonlight or I don’t remember, but it seemed to be the ice on the river, and it was very beautiful, a very beautiful northern view. And these two young women asleep in the bed. Whatever erotic fantasy I had had about the whole situation, evaporated very very quickly – everybody had different purposes, theirs was fatigue and rest, and mine was some kind of bewilderment as usual about the whole situation. So I was sitting there in that easy chair, that stuffed old chair. That was the first time I ever wrote a lyric from beginning to end without any revision. And I had a kind of tune, and I had my guitar there and I was playing it very very softly, and when they woke up, I’d play them the song, and everyone was very happy. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Looks Back On The Past (unedited interview for Norwegian Radio) by Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles. Photo taken in Edmonton in 1966 by Rocco Caratozzolo, contributed by Kim Solez.

That Jewish Chronicle Story About 1HeckOfAGuy/Cohencentric – And Adam Cohen & His Dad, Leonard

OK, 1HeckOfAGuy.com Is Only Part Of The Intro; Still…

A piece on Adam Cohen, Being Leonard Cohen’s Son – It’s Not All Hallelujahs, by Brigit Grant posted March 29, 2012 in The Jewish Chronicle Online, begins

There is a quiz on the internet that lets Leonard Cohen fans measure the intensity of their admiration for the musician and poet. The site, cohencentric.wpengine.com, is ironic (one hopes), but for a high score a “serious fan” should have considered converting to Judaism; played unlikely Cohen songs at a barmitzvah or wedding; and carried a photograph in their wallet of Leonard’s children, Lorca and Adam. As weird as this all sounds, Adam Cohen would never dismiss any of it as beyond the realms of possibility.

The article then segues into its central topic, how being the son of Leonard Cohen has impacted the life and career of Adam Cohen.

From Ambivalence To Acceptance

As webmaster of 1HeckOfAGuy.com (a Cohencentric predecessor), my first reactions to those sentences that open the article were ambivalent. The posts to which I assume Ms Grant alludes, You May Be A Leonard Cohen Fan If… and Cohenphilic Personality Disorder, are not quizzes and do not serve as a means of qualifying one as a “serious fan.” And as for “The site, 1heckofaguy.com, is ironic (one hopes),” those posts are more accurately characterized as comic metaphors than generic irony, but venturing into the especially boggy portion of the rhetorical device swamp reserved for debates about irony would put the original intent of this post at risk.

On the other hand, “1HeckOfAGuy.com” does appear in the first paragraph of the article while “Adam Cohen,” the putative subject of the piece, isn’t introduced until the second paragraph. So, it’s got that going for it.

Consequently, I’ve determined that the appropriate response is (1) to categorize any misinterpretations of my posts as specimens of those cracks through which the light gets in about which one has heard so many good things and (2) to be grateful for the author’s all too atypical listing of this site’s URL.

And, I can also, in good faith, recommend Being Leonard Cohen’s Son – It’s Not All Hallelujahs – including but not limited to a wonderful first paragraph – as a worthwhile, interesting read.

Originally posted Oct 18, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric