“My God! Only one masterpiece. Does this guy have any idea what it takes to produce a single masterpiece? I think anything [Dylan] does merits serious attention.” Leonard Cohen Reacts To Review Criticizing Bob Dylan’s Shot Of Love Album Because It Included “Only One Masterpiece”

Back in the early ’80s, I was having dinner with poet and singer Leonard Cohen, and we were talking about Bob Dylan. Cohen had had dinner with Dylan a few nights earlier, and we were discussing Dylan’s current slump in popularity. He had recently embraced evangelical Christianity and produced a series of religious albums that troubled many fans.Cohen thought the reaction unfair, and was particularly galled by a review blasting Dylan’s album, “Shot of Love,” because it included “only one masterpiece,” which was Dylan’s poignant hymn, “Every Grain of Sand.”

“My God! Only one masterpiece,” Cohen exclaimed, as we ate at a restaurant in Montreal. “Does this guy have any idea what it takes to produce a single masterpiece? I think anything he does merits serious attention.”

From Bob Dylan — A Poet for Our Times by Tom Chaffin (SFGATE: May 23, 2001). Originally posted July 8, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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

“Why would [Bob Dylan] go for Jesus at a late time like this? … I don’t get the Jesus part.” Leonard Cohen

dylanturnschristian-jwarnes-lcoohen

Excerpt from Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes Grove Press (April 12, 2002) p 336

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

Originally posted Jan 15, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[Joni Mitchell’s] beauty was a very accurate manifestation of her whole being. She was not just another pretty face, although that, too, of course, at my age, occurred to me, too.” Leonard Cohen

From Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. Sarah Crichton Books (October 17, 2017).

“To The Child Of My Child” By Leonard Cohen (1998)

quoteup2
To the child of my child: I may not be around when you read this but I want you to know that this morning I walked on a path and I could see the full moon above the pine trees. It was very bright and round and full and it made me very happy to see it. Someday you will be watching that same moon. I hope it makes you happy too. Love, Your Grandfather.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Letter To My Grandchild by Liv Ullman, Editor (Atlantic Monthly Pr; Gift edition: October 1, 1998). The photo of Leonard and Viva, his granddaughter, atop this post was given to Penny Showalter by Leonard Cohen (see Thank-You Photo From Leonard Cohen To Penny Showalter)

“[Lou Reed] was an early reader of Beautiful Losers which he thought was a good book… He wasn’t getting very many compliments of his work and I certainly wasn’t. So we told each other how good we were.” Leonard Cohen

Embed from Getty Images

quoteup2
He [Lou Reed] was an early reader of Beautiful Losers which he thought was a good book. In those days I guess he wasn’t getting very many compliments of his work and I certainly wasn’t. So we told each other how good we were. I liked him immediately because Nico liked him.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From September 15, 1974 Leonard Cohen Interview by Robin Pike (ZigZag, Oct 1974). Photo shows Lou Reed introducing Leonard Cohen at Cohen’s 2008 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction. Originally posted Apr 28, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I remember being overwhelmed by the fertility and the abundance of her artistic enterprise” Leonard Cohen On Joni Mitchell’s Musical Mastery

quoteup2
She [Joni Mitchell] doesn’t read music and it really is fully developed from the god’s head. She just came out that way. When I When I saw her detune a guitar, for me, just tuning the guitar is an ordeal, worrying if I can tune the damn thing. I was so relieved when I finally had guitar techs. It was always an issue for me. To see Joni just twist those little knobs, tuning the guitar in about thirty seconds, into all different strings that nobody had ever heard, and nobody’s ever played it. That indicated to me immediately that there was something very remarkable going on. Same with the piano. I was staying with her in Laurel Canyon when her piano arrived. She sat down and played the piano. Just to hold all those tunings in her mind indicates a superior intellect. I remember being overwhelmed by the fertility and the abundance of her artistic enterprise, because it was so much more vast and rich and varied and seemingly effortless than the way I looked at things. Naturally, I was very impressed and somewhat intimidated.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. Sarah Crichton Books (October 17, 2017). Photo by Whoknoze – Own work, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

“You Changed the Way Women Sing, and the Way Men Listen” from A Few Lines For Joni by Leonard Cohen – 2013

Joni Mitchell at the 2013 Luminato Festival

Master Poet. Master Painter. Most Subtle Technician of the Deep.
You are indeed Queen Undisputed of Mind Beauty.
Star-breasted, Disguised as a Ravishing Piece,
You Changed the Way Women Sing, and the Way Men Listen.
What an Astonishing Victory over the Unforgiving Years!

A Few Lines for Joni by Leonard Cohen
Written for the 2013 Luminato Festival, Toronto

 

Note: Back in 1967, when she and Leonard were still together, Joni changed the name of her publishing company from Gandalf (a nod to The Lord of the Rings) to Siquomb. “So,” Joni told me, “based on the Tolkien books, I invented this kingdom: Queen SIQUOMB (She Is Queen Undisputedly of Mind Beauty), HWIEFOB (He Who Is Especially Fond of Birds). They lived in Fanta on the border of Real (Ree-al).”

Both the lines by Leonard Cohen and the explanatory note are from Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. Sarah Crichton Books (October 17, 2017). Photo by David Leyes – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.

“For me, it was [Joni Mitchell’s] physical beauty that touched me more than her music. The two are connected, but as a young man in the midst of the hormonal avalanche, she was a radiant presence.” Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
She existed as a presence for most people who met her. For me, it was her physical beauty that touched me more than her music. The two are connected, but as a young man in the midst of the hormonal avalanche, she was a radiant presence. The music was part of that, but from my perspective, it was just Athena with the heart. It was just the heart was part of the beauty. I didn’t feel competitive with Joni. I was on my own trip. I was a young man entranced by this radiant person. It was already current at that time that Joni was some kind of musical monster, that her gift somehow put her in another category from the other folksingers. There was a certain ferocity associated with her gift. She was like a storm.  She was a beautiful young woman who had a remarkable talent. She was a great painter. I love her paintings. Her self-portraits are amazing. She turned several of her paintings into beautiful tapestries. She gave them to a weaver. She’s a great spirit. She is a formidable presence. I wasn’t vulnerable to her complications. Mostly, I saw her as a desirable woman, with whom I had a lot in common because of the musical connection.
quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. Sarah Crichton Books (October 17, 2017). Photo  of Joni Mitchell by Matt Gibbonshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/ultomatt/3126812062/, CC BY 2.0, – Wikipedia

DrHGuy Note: I wasn’t there so I didn’t hear what was said, but have to wonder if Leonard’s allusion was not “Athena with the heart” but rather  “Athena with the harp,” which would better fit the context.

A comprehensive summary of the Leonard Cohen-Joni Mitchell relationship is available at