“[Songwriting] often is a young man’s game… But there are some old guys who hang in there and come up with some very interesting work.” Leonard Cohen

There aren’t many songwriters of your generation who have been able to maintain the quality of their past work the way you have been able to.

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… There is a certain age that is appropriate to this tremendous expenditure of energy and the tremendous bravery and courage that you need to go into the fray. It often is a young man’s game, or as Browning said, ‘The first fine careless frenzy.’ That is what the lyric poem is based on, the song is based on. But there are some old guys who hang in there and come up with some very interesting work.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From a 1992 interview with Leonard Cohen published in Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo. Da Capo Press: 1997. Photo by Dominique Issermann.

The Browning line quoted as “First fine careless frenzy” is actually “The first fine careless rapture” from Home Thoughts From Abroad, by Robert Browning.

That ‘s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture!

“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.

Leonard Cohen Addresses The Plight Of The Aging Rock Star

Denying the popular myth that rockers burn out young while those in the fine arts age to great wisdom, Leonard says of the plight of the aging rock star…

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Browning expressed it in that line, ‘First fine careless frenzy,’ when he heard the birds sing. But, when he repeats that cadence again, Browning knows that it was not just the ‘fine, careless frenzy:’ that this can be perfected, that this can be controlled and summoned.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Maverick Spirit: Leonard Cohen by Jim O’Brien. B-Side Magazine: August/September 1993. The image atop this post is the cover of Rock & Folk No. 131, Dec 1977 (illustration by Dominique Lechaud) from the private collection of Dominique BOILE.

Note: The Browning line quoted as “First fine careless frenzy” is actually “The first fine careless rapture” from Home Thoughts From Abroad, by Robert Browning.

That ‘s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture!

“You can feel even more passionate about things as you get older. As you drop the restraining & inhibiting braces of your thoughts and allow your feelings to become manifest a certain kind of energy is liberated.” Leonard Cohen

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I understood the different kinds of expression appropriate to different ages — lyrical for a young man, meditative for the middle ages, reflective for old age. There’s probably some truth to those designations, but not really. You can feel even more passionate about things as you get older. As you drop the restraining and inhibiting braces of your thoughts and allow your feelings to become manifest a certain kind of energy is liberated.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From “Hello! I Must Be Cohen” By Gavin Martin (New Musical Express, January 9, 1993).

“You become more foolish and more wise at the same time as you get older, more careful and more careless. It all just deepens—but I don’t think anyone masters the heart. It continues to cook like a shish kebab in everyone’s breast, bubbling and cooking and sizzling.” Leonard Cohen

So, speaking of romantic love, now that he’s 67 years old, is Cohen still in the line of fire of Cupid’s arrow?

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It seems to be somewhat abated at the moment, but I don’t think one ever gets a handle on this matter; I think one is vulnerable at any moment to those emotions. One becomes more circumspect as one gets older about everything—I mean, you become more foolish and more wise at the same time as you get older, more careful and more careless. It all just deepens—but I don’t think anyone masters the heart. It continues to cook like a shish kebab in everyone’s breast, bubbling and cooking and sizzling.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Songs Of Love, Not Hate by Sylvie Simmons. Yahoo! Music: Oct 8, 2001. Originally posted November 26, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Q: Through the years.. have you learned to get rid of the unnecessary, the vanity? Leonard Cohen (2016): “They seem to have gotten rid of me. No virtue on my part. Several of the seven deadly sins seem to have lost interest in this immobilized person.”


From the original questionnaire (in English) for Le Dernier Empereur by J.D. Beauvallet and Pierre Siankowski (Les Inrocks: Oct 19, 2016) forwarded to me on Oct 16, 2016 by Leonard Cohen.

“Believe me, what you want is someone to have dinner with” Leonard Cohen On Relationships Later In Life

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Believe me, what you want is someone to have dinner with… sleep with from time to time, telephone every day or write. It’s what you set up that is defeating. Make it very modest. And give yourself permission to make a few mistakes. You know, blow it a bit. Have a few drinks and fall into bed with somebody. It doesn’t have to be the final thing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From He Has Tried in His Way to Be Free by Sarah Hampson (Lion’s Roar: Nov 1, 2007). Photo of Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas in Montreal 2005 taken by Kim Solez.

“There’s a lot of things that you can do [at 80] that you couldn’t do when you were younger. You depend on a certain resilience that is not yours to command, but which is present. And if you can sense this resilience or sense this capacity to continue, it means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30.” Leonard Cohen

 

At age 80, are there things you can’t do that you used to be able to?

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There’s a lot of things that you can do that you couldn’t do when you were younger. You depend on a certain resilience that is not yours to command, but which is present. And if you can sense this resilience or sense this capacity to continue, it means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30, when I took it for granted.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches By Gavin Edwards (Rolling Stone: Sept 19, 2014).