Leonard Cohen Explains Why He Changed Ain’t No Cure For Love From A Theological Proposition To A “Love Song About A Guy Who’d Lost A Girl”


With An Assist From Jennifer Warnes

I had this idea that ‘there ain’t no cure for love’ in every sense of the matter. If you do have [love] it’s a kind of wound, and if you don’t have it it’s worse. And this is what Christ is about: Christ had to die because there ain’t no cure for love. You can’t change this world. And Christ, especially, understood this. So I wrote the whole song on those terms. [Interviewer: What terms?] Theological terms. And then I thought, ‘I’m never gonna get behind this, either. But Jenny [Jennifer Warnes] heard part of the song and she liked it. So I started writing a lyric that would have these ideas somewhere way, way back and no one would have to bother about them but me. It’d just be this love song about a guy who’d lost a girl.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988. The photo is a gift from Jennifer Warnes.

Leonard Cohen On His Inspiration For The Original “Band Aid” Opening Lines Of Ain’t No Cure For Love

[Did Ain’t No Cure For Love start out] about the SALT Treaty?

Actually, one of the things on my mind was that I was very pissed off at Band Aid, this moment in musical history where everyone took care of ‘we gave at the office.’ It was very nice, but first of all, I hadn’t been asked by anybody to sing. [smiles] So the song started off ‘From the heart of man to the heart of God the ladder’s been removed / And there ain’t no band-aid big enough to cover up this wound.’ That idea.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

“From the heart of man to the heart of God the ladder’s been removed / And there ain’t no band-aid big enough to cover up this wound” is an early version of the opening lines of Ain’t No Cure For Love. The excerpt if from Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland. Musician: July 1988.

Leonard Cohen: Singer-Songwriter, Poet, Accessory Before The Fact?

Leonard Cohen Songs & Poems –
So Sexy They May Be Illegal

To protect himself from charges of complicity, Leonard Cohen may want to start pasting the DrHGuy-designed warning label displayed atop this post on his albums and books.

It turns out that the the involvement of Leonard Cohen’s “Book Of Longing” in a suit charging  sexual harassment and discrimination brought against the venture firm of Kleiner Perkins1 is not the first time sexually charged verses by Leonard Cohen have led to legal problems.

This story of Crime, Cohen, and Punishment, as reported by the Associated Press and published in the September 25, 1996 edition of The Titusville Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania), follows:

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — There might not be a cure for love, but a Danish court hopes a $173 fine will stop the symptoms. The fine was levied after a man asked Danish national radio to dedicate “Ain’t No Cure for Love” by Leonard Cohen to his former girlfriend, even though he was under court order not to contact her, the Berlingske Tidende newspaper reported Monday. The lovers, who were not identified, broke up in 1991 after a six-year relationship, the newspaper said. In 1993, police issued a restraining order forbidding him to contact her in any way. When the radio broadcast his dedication of the song in April 1994 it was unaware of the restraining order, the newspaper said.

This episode certainly gives a new twist to the chorus of Cohen’s “Different Sides:”

Both of us say there are laws to obey
Yeah, but frankly I don’t like your tone
You want to change the way I make love
(But) I want to leave it alone

The Message

Until this kind of warning is available to prevent, oh say a senior partner in a venture firm from giving a potentially inappropriate gift to a female junior partner,

… it’s up to each individual to be aware of the dangers of Leonard Cohen’s work:

Music & Poetry By Leonard Cohen
Use At Own Risk

Originally posted July 31, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. A male senior partner of Kleiner Perkins gave Cohen’s Book Of Longing to a female junior partner in the same firm.  The legal issue is whether this gift was a sexually provocative act (because, as the plaintiff’s motion points out, the book contains “many sexual drawings and poems with strong sexual content”) or, as the defendant’s response maintains, a misunderstood holiday present of “a book of poetry written by Leonard Cohen during Cohen’s five-year stay at a Zen monastery” from “a practicing Buddhist [the senior partner]” to the junior partner, who had given “him [the senior partner] a book and a Buddha statue as holiday gifts following discussions the two had about Buddhism. See Sexual Harassment Suit Reveals (Gasp) Eroticism In Leonard Cohen’s Book Of Longing for a discussion of this point. []

Leonard Cohen & Henry David Thoreau On An Antidote For Love

Thoreau’s words were written in his journal July 25, 1839 when he was enamored of Ellen Sewall.1 Leonard Cohen’s words are from the lyrics of “Ain’t No Cure for Love,” which was first released on Jennifer Warnes’ 1987 tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat. It was then released on Cohen’s 1988 album I’m Your Man.


  1. Source: The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau []

Hear Leonard Cohen Talk About Lines Written Under “The Tyranny Of Rhyme,” Politics, Love As An Ailment, Anjani, Recycling His Art & More – 2006


If the embedded player above doesn’t function in your browser, use the CBC Player.

This Feb. 7, 2006 interview offers an impressive range and depth of material (albeit organized in a somewhat random manner).

From CBC description:

Leonard Cohen has reasons to celebrate. Five of his songs are being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. As heard in this in-depth radio interview, the usually reserved artist reflects back on his life. He talks openly about his days at a Buddhist monastery, his love of wine, his failure at love and what this latest honour means for the 71-year-old artist.

The five songs by Leonard Cohen inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 were

  • Ain’t No Cure For Love
  • Bird on the Wire
  • Everybody Knows (co-written with Sharon Robinson)
  • Suzanne
  • Hallelujah

Program: Sounds Like Canada
Broadcast Date: Feb. 7, 2006
Guest: Leonard Cohen
Host: Shelagh Rogers
Duration: 21:02

“The whole idea is funny, even though it’s very true” Leonard Cohen On The Surface Meaning Of, The Joke In, & What Jesus Knew About “Ain’t No Cure For Love”


In ‘Ain’t No Cure For Love’ … the whole idea is funny, even though it’s very true.  There’s a surface to the song. You don’t have to go beneath the surface. You’re not invited to penetrate the song and analyze it but if you should be so foolish as to want to penetrate the song and analyze it you’d find that it is correct even theologically. Jesus appears in the last verse and whispers to me that you can’t get away from this; even the angelic host understands. Well, Christ who gave himself a lot, who knew that the only way to love was to sacrifice, he knows that if you love, your love will take a wound, so those parts of the world that are inhabited are still there, but nobody’s invited to look at them if they don’t want to. So the song just exists as a song that reaches your ear, but if there’s something else going on all the better. But it’s better to say those things as a joke than to rub somebody’s nose in it.  quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

The verse to which Leonard Cohen refers follows:

I walked into this empty church, I had no place else to go
When the sweetest voice I ever heard whispered to my soul
I don’t need to be forgiven for loving you so much
It’s written in the scriptures
It’s written there in blood
And I even heard the angels declare it from above
There ain’t no cure, there ain’t no cure, there ain’t no cure for love

From I’m Your Man, by Alberto Manzano. Rockdelux (Spain): May 1988. Photo by Herminia Sirvent.

“You might as well settle down and have a baby / Cause there ain’t no cure for love” Leonard Cohen


Advice From The Poet Laureate Of Commitophobes1

Leonard Cohen’s handwritten lines from an early version of “Ain’t No Cure For Love” advises

There ain’t no pill, ain’t no drug
You might as well
Settle down and have a baby
cause there ain’t no cure for love

Leonard Cohen


The “settle down and have a baby” line did not, as it turns out, make it to the final version of Cohen’s classic song – and that’s probably a good thing, Try inserting those words into this performance of the song Cohen performed in his 2009 Chicago concert.

Leonard Cohen – Ain’t No Cure For Love
Rosemont, Chicago: Ocr 29, 2009
Video by albertnoonan

Credit Due Department: The image of the handwritten lines was an illustration for Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland (Musician, July 1988). Contributed by Dominique BOILE.

Originally posted Nov 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. The Poet Laureate Of Commitophobes is #11 of 359 entries on the current Leonard Cohen Nicknames List []