Q: What was Leonard Cohen’s mission? Alberto Manzano: “To transform the hearts of people with his work, with his songs. It was messianic! And… I believe that he fulfilled his mission.”

“Cohen entró en la muerte sabiendo dónde pisaba” by Víctor-M. Amela. La Vanguardia: Sept 14, 2018. Via Google Translate. Photo by Fundación Cajasol. Thanks to Chema of Barcelona, who alerted me to this article.

Leonard Cohen y el Zen By Alberto Manzano – Now Released

Leonard Cohen y el Zen By Alberto Manzano is now available. The following information is from the French Amazon site via Google Translate:

In mid-1993, after the presentation tour of The Future was over, Leonard found no reason to continue in Los Angeles. He could not enjoy the success that his work had given him, his love affair with Rebecca de Mornay had come to an end and he felt gripped by a deep depression. It was then that he packed his bags, picked up his Pathfinder and headed to the Mount Baldy Buddhist monastery.

For more than fifty years, the need for a complete self-reformation led Leonard Cohen to a spiritual search through the study of Zen and Hinduism, an immense and profound personal work whose reward he finally obtained in the last years of his life.

Alberto Manzano is a poet, translator, essayist, biographer, anthologist, journalist, music producer, adapter of lyrics in Spanish. He has published numerous works in reference to Leonard Cohen, among which Leonard Cohen (Dome / Planet, 2009). He has released albums about Leonard Cohen and has translated more than a hundred lyrics of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Patti Smith among others. He is also the author of poetry and several anthologies on rock.

Pages: 224
Publisher: Luciérnaga CAS
Publication Date: 5 April 2018)
Language: Spanish
ISBN-10: 8417371044
ISBN-13: 978-8417371043

A review of the book is available at Leonard Cohen y el zen» la cara más espiritual del cantautor canadiense (Cancioneros: April 4, 2018). An excerpt via [Google Translate] follows:

Leonard’s relationship with Zen Buddhism had begun in 1972, when a new depressive crisis – probably inherited from his mother, Masha, who would end up in a psychiatric ward at the Allen Memorial Institute in Montreal – was squeezing him out. Until then, the depression had worked perfectly as one of the main engines of his poetic work, but it had become a chaotic spiral of suffering in which Leonard fell too often: “You live with depression as if you were a friend, knowing if you make too many mistakes, that friend will fall on you, “he confessed” the most powerful non-chemical depressant in the world, “as he had been described by a prestigious British music magazine after the publication of his album Songs Of Love And Hate in 1971, He pointed: “With the disks of Leonard Cohen should give razor blades, because it is a music to cut the veins.” However, the wounded poet continued arguing about depression: “It’s not something that is objective, it’s more like a shadow that you live with and that never disappears, so you start to move in a certain way to avoid being crushed. It’s like living with an eczema, a skin disease: if you eat inappropriate things, the skin becomes red, swollen, to the point where you are unable to move, unable to sit down and unable to go to bed, and this is how depression works. you absorb the inappropriate, you feel too uncomfortable to continue.”

Alberto Manzano Lizandra

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Leonard Cohen Made Honorary Citizen Of City Of Granada

Leonard Cohen was made an Honorary Citizen of Granada, the home of Federico García Lorca, on December 13, 2017.  Alberto Manzano signed the official documents on behalf of the Cohen estate.

Thanks to Dominique BOILE, who alerted us to this honor and contributed the photos forwarded to him by Alberto Manzano.

“I’ve turned it into a playground! I’m here with a friend!” Leonard Cohen & Alberto Manzano – Barcelona 1989

Leonard Cohen and Alberto Manzano (Leonard Cohen biographer) in Barcelona 1989. Photo by Lourdes Barbal. Contributed by Dominique BOILE. Quote is from Beautiful Losers. Originally posted Dec 20, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Hommage Leonard Cohen – Lanuza 2017

Albert Manzano organized the July 14, 2017 Leonard Cohen tribute in Lanuza, Spain. Among the participants was Alex Bublitchi (on viewer’s far left in below photo), Leonard Cohen’s violinist during the 2012 and 2013 tours.

Left to right: Alex Bublitchi, Rocio Segura, Carlos Rodenas, Francisco Rubio, Jordi Rallo, Paula Dominguez, Javier Malaguilla

Photos by Raùl Tomás. Thanks to Laurence of Paris, who contributed the photos and information.

Leonard Cohen Tribute: A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes + Alberto Manzano Poetry Reading – Zamora, Aug 19, 2017

From A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes Facebook Page:

“A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes” is a song by Leonard Cohen and also the name chosen by the band A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes to spread their music and poetry. If you want to enjoy with them and your tribute concert to Leonard Cohen do not miss them this Saturday, August 19, at 22 pm., in the cathedral square.

Alberto Manzano On Leonard Cohen’s Latin American Influences & Translating Popular Problems

Alberto Manzano & Leonard Cohen

Alberto Manzano has produced some of the most insightful, enlightening, and entertaining books and articles about Leonard Cohen as well as translating his lyrics and poetry and taking some of the most telling photos of the Canadian singer-songwriter.1  And, he is prolific, contributing over a dozen volumes to the Cohen bibliography.  Most of his work, however, is published in Spanish, severely limiting its accessibility. I’m posting Helen Ketcham’s English translation of this article about Monzano not only to communicate its content is significant but also to increase awareness in the Cohen fan community of this especially important journalist.

La conexión hispana de Leonard Cohen comenta el último regreso del músico

La conexión hispana de Leonard Cohen comenta el último regreso del músico
By Marcos Moraga
La Tercera: Oct 13, 2014

Translated by Helen Ketcham

Leonard Cohen’s Spanish Connection Comments On The Latest Return Of The Musician

Spaniard Alberto Manzano is the Canadian’s biographer and translator.

“It’s not because I’m old, it’s not the life I’ve led, / I always liked it slow, that’s how my mother taught me.” That’s the conclusion of the chorus of “Slow,” the first song on Popular Problems, the latest album by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, released on September 20. He has his reasons: when his latest work hit the street, the author of Hallelujah had just crossed the barrier of 80 years.

“His Zen Master, Roshi died just a couple of months ago, at age 106, and his sister, Esther, died a couple of weeks ago. Leonard has seen many of his best friends depart lately: the Canadian poet Irving Layton, his publisher, Jack McClelland. It is normal for him to feel the wolf at his heels. But Cohen has been concerned about this issue since the mid-70s, when he published his book and album Death of a Lady’s Man. I think he has always considered himself old.”

The speaker is Alberto Manzano, editor, biographer and translator of most of Cohen’s work into Spanish. A few days ago, the author received an email in which the American bard requested his services, this time to put the verses of Popular Problems into Spanish. Manzano agreed, and as with previous albums by the musician, his work may appear in an edition prepared for Latin America (“I think that he wants to put it up on his website,” says the Spaniard).

Barring a few exceptions — Joaquin Sabina was commissioned to do the translation of Old Ideas, the previous album — Manzano has been a consistent collaborator with Cohen, where the Canadian has placed his interest: his daughter was named Lorca in honor of the poet of that name; in 2012, Cohen won the Prince of Asturias Prize, and upon receiving it, took off his hat to the flamenco tradition, singling it out as responsible for his approach to the guitar.

Manzano has been close to Cohen for more than three decades. From there he observes the latest verbal darts from his Canadian friend: “He’s succeeded in distilling the essence of things, their substantiality, with very few words, accurate, simple. He’s creating gold. I’m Your Man and The Future are albums of the 90’s on which he had, in effect, exchanged his guitar for electronic keyboards. And that continues, except now its rhythms are much more placid and silky, like a kind of balm for the wounds of the soul. You can tell he is a man who has found peace. “

To Sabina And Back Again

For his previous album, Old Ideas (2012), Cohen put together an edition for Spain, with the lyrics translated by musician Joaquín Sabina. “Jorge Luis Borges has been widely criticized for his translations, for not being exactly true to the original text. It could be the same with Sabina. There are poets (because only a poet can translate another poet) who pour too much of themselves into foreign territory for which they feel some attraction or even identification,” comments Manzano.

Only Cohen knows whether the songs of Popular Problems will go out live on a world tour. Any interest in visiting South America, where the singer has never toured? “Honestly, it’s not likely,” Manzano responds, while reviewing the Latin American influences in his work: “I know he really likes the tango. He is a lover of Carlos Gardel. In the mid-80s, he asked me to write an adaptation in English of the song “Goodbye, Boys.” And I did one. He probably has it put away in some corner of his desk. He has also read Borges.”

Any option, then, depends on the mood of the North American, who appears to be stepping on the accelerator of productivity in the final stretch. He recalls the flirtatious remark Cohen whispers hoarsely from the stage whenever some young lady shouts out to him from the crowd: “If only I were two years younger.”

Credit Due Department: Photo by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Note: Originally posted Oct 15, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Monzano has also written about and translated for other artists, including Dylan, Jackson Browne, Tome Waits, Lou Reed, and Jim Morrison. []