Quotation from Leonard Cohen: Porridge? Lozenge? Syringe? by Adrian Deevoy. Q, 1991. Animation of Leonard Cohen’s stage gesture when singing “When you’ve done a little line or two” from live video of Everybody Knows.
I don’t get high with LSD. I see people hallucinating all around me, but I don’t get high. I don’t mean to say that I got there first, but I just know that vision. You know, I find it very familiar. It’s one that I’m in most of the time. Taking LSD for me was not the most significant spiritual experience. I don’t want to put it down — it has done beautiful things for a lot of people. But for me it was just revisiting somewhere that I am anyway. I don’t think there’s any danger in LSD. I would take LSD as long as it wasn’t under medical supervision. I just don’t think there are any doctors around who could provide you with a guide. They aren’t spiritually advanced enough. It would be like…like giving somebody a diamond and then giving him a guard to prevent him from picking his teeth with it. Pot doesn’t do anything for me. Want some?
Leonard Cohen on his experience with LSD (been there – without doing that), the spiritual ineptitude of physicians, and the ineffectiveness of marijuana in his case. Note that Leonard, ever the gracious host, politely offers the interviewer a toke.
From Is the World (or Anybody) Ready for Leonard Cohen? by Jon Ruddy. Maclean’s: October 1, 1966. Photo taken in Edmonton in 1966 by Rocco Caratozzolo, contributed by Kim Solez. Originally posted August 11, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
You wrote Chelsea Hotel about Janis Joplin. Were you aware, during the time you knew her, that she was killing herself?
I hoped that Janis might have been in for a long haul the way that Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell have been but you kind of knew that the candle was burning at both ends and she probably wouldn’t make it. Just in the way that she sang and the way that she lived. But at the time we didn’t know that you couldn’t do that forever. It’s like now they say that cigarettes and sugar and even white bread can kill. But we didn’t even know that heroin could kill you. I was somewhat older than most of those people so I favoured a moderate position. Also, because I’d come up through the literary side, I knew the biographies of the poets and how they’d wrecked themselves. So I didn’t feel like going on the trip. And I did caution moderation to a few people but you can’t get them to stop using something unless they want to do it themselves.
What I was after was a significant high, so during the ’50’s and ’60’s I tried everything I could get my hands on. But in time I found that this high became more available through other forms of activity. And the mind that is produced by certain kinds of study, certain kinds of discipline, is so much more finely-attuned to those areas you want to get the news from that, in the end, even using hashish is like treating a pocket watch with a sledgehammer. I wouldn’t go near drugs nowadays. Cigarettes are the only drugs I’m combating now.
From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)