In Best Of Zero: Leonard Cohen’s Fragment from a Journal & Death of a Lady’s Man

I lit a stick of incense. I sat down on a small cushion crossing my legs in a full Lotus. For over an hour I thought about how much I hated one of my ex-wives. It was still dark when I began writing a metaphysical song called “Letter to the Christians,” in which I attempted to exaggerate the maturity of my own religious experience and invalidate everyone else’s, especially those who claimed a renewed spiritual vitality.

Excerpted from Fragment from a Journal
By Leonard Cohen

In 1978 Leonard Cohen became a financial backer of and contributing editor to  ZERO: Contemporary Buddhist Life and Thought,  A couple of his contributions, Fragment from a Journal and Death of a Lady’s Man, are available online at The Best Of Zero

Best Of Zero also includes pieces by or about other individuals of interest to Cohen fans:

Joshu Sasaki Roshi

  • On the Nature of Zero
  • Who Pollutes the World?

Joni Mitchell

  • Interview

Allen Ginsberg

  • Collage of Haiku, Kerouac, etc.
  • Two Poems

John Cage

  • The Music of Contingency – An Interview

Steve Sanfield

  • Two Poems

Bob Dylan & Alan Ginsberg Sing Back-Up On Leonard Cohen’s Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On


When Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan showed up during the recording of Death Of A Ladies’ Man in 1977, Phil Spector ordered them to sing background vocals on “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-on.” They complied, and the resulting version of the song became a track on the album.

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

Leonard Cohen’s 5 Best Collaborations According To The Houston Post


Cohen Collaborators: Jennifer Warnes, Sharon Robinson, Phil Spector, Webb Sisters, Bob Dylan & Alan Ginsberg

Read the full story at Leonard Cohen’s Five Best Collaborations by Corey Deiterman (Houston Press: Sep. 17 2014). Be aware that The Houston Post subscribes to a broad definition of “collaboration.” .

Note: Originally posted September 17, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’s” Allen Ginsberg On Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen


Many articles refer to this quotation, but this excerpt from Songwriters On Songwriting by Paul Zollo has the advantage of offering context:

Like Dylan, Simon, and few others, Leonard Cohen has expanded the vocabulary of the popular song into the domain of poetry. And like both Simon and Dylan, Cohen will work and rework his songs until he achieves a kind of impossible perfection. He didn’t need Dylan’s influence, however, to inspire his poetic approach to songwriting. He’d already written much poetry and two highly acclaimed novels by the time Dylan emerged, leading the poet Allen Ginsberg to comment, “Dylan blew everybody’s mind, except Leonard’s.”

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

Credit Due Department: Photo by Elsa Dorfman – Transferred from en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted April 29, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The angel is merely a channel for the will” Leonard Cohen On His Fascination With Angels


You once said that “the angels of mercy are other people.”1 What does that mean? And what is the relationship between angels and language?

I don’t know. One of the things I always liked about the early Beatnik poetry — Ginsberg and Kerouac and Corso– was the use of the word ‘angel.’ I never knew what they meant, except that it was a designation for a human being and that it affirmed the light in an individual. I don’t know how I used the word ‘angel.’ I’ve forgotten exactly, but I don’t think I ever got better than the way that Ginsberg and Kerouac used the word in the early fifties. I always loved reading their poems where they talked about angels. I’ve read a lot of things about angels. I just wrote a song with Lewis Furey called ‘Angel Eyes.’ I like it as a term of endearment: ‘Darling, you’re an angel.’ I mean the fact that somebody can bring you the light, and you feel it, you feel healed or situated. And it’s a migratory gift. We’re all that for other people. Sometimes we are and sometimes we aren’t. I know that sometimes it’s.just the girl who sells you cigarettes saying ‘have a good day’ that changes the day. In that function she is an angel. An angel has no will of its own. An angel is only a messenger, only a channel. We have another kind of mythology that suggests angels act independently. But as I understand it from people who have gone into the matter, the angel actually has no will. The angel is merely a channel for the will.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen: Various Positions as interviewed by Robert Sward Montreal 1984. Note: Originally posted Mar 6, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. See “The angels of mercy are other people” Leonard Cohen []