From “Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen” in Q Magazine, September 1994. Photo of Leonard Cohen at 1993 Juno Awards by George Kraychyk. Originally posted April 2, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Learning that his novel was to be published in Swedish, Cohen told Esther that his book would certainly appeal to the Swedes because “it’s so melancholy, and neurotic and dirty.” To Stephen Vizicenzy he wrote that he had abandoned himself entirely to oral gratification: “Eating and kissing. Frankly, I hate to get out of bed. I don’t think I’m a poet maudit after all. Maybe I’ll receive my sense of loss tomorrow.” A month later he wrote to Robert Weaver that “Norway is blonde and glorious and I am popular as a negro with my dark nose. I’ll travel forever.” He danced by himself, listening to Radio Luxembourg. “I can be seen Twisting alone, not even missing London marijuana.”
From Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira Nadel
Note re Poète Maudit: Poète maudit, (French: “accursed poet”), in literary criticism, the poet as an outcast of modern society, despised by its rulers who fear his penetrating insights into their spiritual emptiness. The phrase was first applied by Paul Verlaine in Les Poètes maudits (1884), a collection of critical and biographical studies that focused on the tragedy of the lives of the then little-known Symbolist poets Tristan Corbière, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Arthur Rimbaud. Verlaine may have taken les poètes maudits from Baudelaire’s “Bénédiction,” in which a poet is described as untouched by the suffering and contempt he experiences. The term carries the implication of the low estate into which the poet has fallen from his ancient position as seer and prophet. (Source: Britannica)
People stand up and say something with authority and with freshness – maybe somebody like Sid Vicious, you know, and then, seven years later it’s a Coke commercial. You know, there’s nothing to lament in this matter. We don’t have to wring our hands about the corruption of beauty or the violation of purity. It just is the way things go.
From Leonard Cohen’s The Future Interview by Bob Mackowitz. Transcript from a radio special produced by Interviews Unlimited for Sony Music, 1992. Originally posted June 20, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Note: Like many musical artists, Leonard Cohen had a complicated relationship with his record company that shifted over time. Posts about this issue are collected at Leonard Cohen & The Music Industry.
These days, most kids wouldn’t even know what a sonnet was. Does that sadden you at all?
It doesn’t matter, I don’t have a deep, vested interest in that kind of education. As the Talmud says, ‘There is good wine in every generation,’ and ‘Old forms pass away.’ There are some people, like myself, that somehow operate as a bridge between the old culture and the new one. It doesn’t really matter. I think the crisis that we’re in right now is of such acute urgency that these tiny distractions of what survives and what doesn’t as cultural artifacts is really quite irrelevant.
From Rebirth Of A Ladies’ Man by Steven Blush. Seconds No 22: June/July 1993. The image atop this post is the back cover of Flowers for Hitler by Leonard Cohen (Jonathan Cape, UK: 1973). Photo by Sophie Baker.
Note: In the original article, the Talmud quotation reads
As the Talmud says, ‘There is a good line in every generation’ [emphasis mine]
This is the only instance I’ve found of Leonard attributing “a good line” to the Talmud. In several other interviews, however, he is quoted as follows:
As the Talmud says, ‘There is good wine in every generation’ [emphasis mine]
I am confident that in this article, Leonard was accidentally misquoted.
An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Michael Harris. Duel: Winter 1969. The photograph of Leonard Cohen performing at the May 22, 1967 Queen’s Park Love-in1 (including reading his poetry) held in the Yorkville section of Toronto, was taken by Bill Dampier and is credited to York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, ASC26833.
- This is, as far as I can determine, the only officially designated “love-in” featuring a Leonard Cohen performance. [↩]
For some years Cohen has been saddled, poor fellow, with a reputation as a compulsive womaniser (putting out an album called ‘Death of a Ladies’ Man’ didn’t really help). Much has been made of his current affair with the Hollywood actress Rebecca de Mornay, who played the billhook-wielding nanny in ‘The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.’ I commented that he never seemed to lose a sense of wonder at the prospect of the undraped female form. Was it because he is an incorrigible old rogue, or something more elevated?
But that’s very elevated. What Yeats said about ‘a foolish passion in an old man,’ that’s not a bad calling. To stay alive in the heart and the spine and the genitals, to be sensitive to these delicious movements, is not a bad way to go. To me, the sight of a naked woman in statuary – or not naked at all – or the movement of one’s sister or daughters, well, I’m sorry, but I haven’t been able to extricate myself from this human merry-go-round.
From Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993. Image is a screen capture from a 1993 Helsinki interview. Originally posted Jan 9, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.
I do not believe in artistic boycotts. I do not understand it. I believe that art is the only way to communicate between men. I played in Israel in front of 50,000 people. It had been ensured that Palestinians could also attend the concert. All proceeds were donated to a fund for creative workshops, for the transmission of traditional cultures. It is surely only a drop in the ocean, but it is that. The concert was fantastic, obviously very emotionally charged. But I consider each of my concerts as a special event.