“I need some chocolate if I’m gonna do this.” Leonard Cohen, Working On Blue Alert With Anjani Thomas

Anjani tells of fueling the Leonard Cohen lyric-writing engine with candy during their work together on the Blue Alert album:

The song was No One After You, and we just needed one line to finish it so I could record it the next day:

I lived in many cities
from Paris to LA
I’ve known rags and riches

It was a bit tense as he paced back and forth. I sat at the piano and didn’t move, didn’t say a word. Then he finally said, “I need some chocolate if I’m gonna do this.”

That would have been milk chocolate, because he doesn’t like dark — and of course I always keep some around — so he ate a bar and about a minute later he came up with the line:

I’m a regular cliche

From personal communication with Anjani Thomas. (Anjani also used this anecdote with some minor differences in an interview with PureMusic.) Photo atop post by Dominique BOILE.

Much of the time, Roshi and I were two buddies drinking. He likes sake, I tried to convert him to French wine, but he was very resistant. But we both agree about Cognac and Scotch.

From I Never Discuss My Mistresses Or My Tailors by Nick Paton Walsh. The Observer, October 14, 2001

Also see

Q: What are you good at that has nothing to do with music? Leonard Cohen “I can make a couple of good sandwiches: tuna salad and chopped egg salad. And Greek bean soup.”

What are you good at that has nothing to do with music?

quoteup2
I can make a couple of good sandwiches: tuna salad and chopped egg salad. And Greek bean soup. I was a cook for my old Zen master for many years. So there were two or three dishes that he liked, you know. Teriyaki salmon, a few things. I wouldn’t call myself a good cook by any means. My son is a very good cook. My curries are not bad.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches By Gavin Edwards (Rolling Stone: Sept 19, 2014). Photo by Chris Buck Website Instagram.

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More about Leonard Cohen’s cooking can be found at

“He tells me ‘Do you know the difference between a Rémy Martin cognac and a Courvoisier?’ ‘I do not know,’ I tell him. I try it… Remy Martin may have a more feminine taste? That’s the kind of conversation we have.” Leonard Cohen Talks About Roshi


When did you first come into contact with Buddhism and Zen?

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I never came into contact with them directly, they didn’t interest me. But I met a man twenty years ago, whom I enjoyed very much. He was older than me, and he seemed to know more than me. One of the things he knew was how to drink. I learned from him how to drink. It turns out he was an old Zen monk. And as he told me a few years ago: ‘Leonard, I’ve known you for eighteen years and I’ve never tried to give you my religion. I’m just using sake.’ This is what my relationship with Buddhism has been, I have no interest in Buddhism, no interest in Zen. What interests me is drinking with my old friend and to be in his company. I enjoy sitting in the meditation room because there is no phone, the incense is sweet, it’s very quiet and I can hang on my piece of wood very well when I sit there in the morning. You have the opportunity to study your self, how it rises and how it falls. But what the Buddhist theologians have to say on the issue does not interest me much.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

What are you talking about with this monk?

quoteup2
Well, he does not speak English, so it is very difficult to discuss theology with him. He tells me ‘Do you know the difference between a Rémy Martin cognac and a Courvoisier?’ ‘I do not know,’ I tell him. I try it. Hum… He tastes. Hum… Remy Martin may have a more feminine taste? That’s the kind of conversation we have. He has a tendency not to particularly like religion. It is difficult not to have an aversion toward religion when you see what it does to people, at what point they become satisfied with themselves, to what point it separates themselves from others. Generally speaking religion has a pretty disagreeable odor. The love of God, that’s a different story. At least two times a year I go to Mount Baldy. It looks like a monastery; it is a very intensive center for Zen training. The days are filled with meditation and manual labor. In the kitchen, in the garden, we dig, we paint. I like being part of a community once in awhile. There is nothing extra, you live the day, no theology, no dogma. You live a religious life on the inside, not on the outside. You get up at three in the morning, you sit for two hours in the meditation room, you prepare breakfast, you clean, you polish, you garden, then you meditate again. And you study yourself in your own way with the help of a teacher but not one of theology.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate.

“[‘Always’] by Irving Berlin was originally in ¾ time, and I turned it into a 4/4 song, and I always loved it.” Leonard Cohen On His Transformation Of Always Via “A Drink That I Had Invented Called The Red Needle”

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[‘Always’] by Irving Berlin was originally in ¾ time, and I turned it into a 4/4 song, and I always loved it. It’s very beautifully constructed as a song, and I think the lyric is very touching. So, I went in there with Steve Lindsey, a producer, and some really excellent musicians, and we prepared a drink that I had invented called the ‘Red Needle.’ It’s basically, Tequila, Cranberry juice, and lime, and some other elements. And after I had distributed this drink, and people had sampled it, we produced this track.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Interview With Leonard Cohen by by Chris Doritos. KCRW, Los Angeles: February 18, 1997. Retrieved 09 July 2014 from LeonardCohenFilesOriginally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

More information about Leonard Cohen’s Red Needle cocktail can be found at Leonard Cohen on the preparation of his Red Needle cocktail & its effect on recording sessions.

vvshrtpurfxxx

“I was drinking about three bottles of wine by the end of the tour… before every concert. I only drank professionally, I never drank after the concert.” Leonard Cohen On Château Latour & His 1993 Tour


quoteup2
One of the reasons was that I was so wiped out physically by the end of my last tour because I was drinking heavily. I was drinking about three bottles of wine by the end of the tour… Before every concert. I only drank professionally, I never drank after the concert. I would never drink after intermission. It was a long tour. It must have been 60 to 70 concerts. [Interviewer: Why did you need to drink?] I was very nervous. And I liked drinking. And I found this wine, it was Château Latour. Now very expensive. It was even expensive then. It’s curious with wine. The wine experts talk about the flavour and the bouquet and whether it has legs and the tannins and the fruit and the symphonies of tastes. But nobody talks about the high. Bordeaux is a wine that vintners have worked on for about 1,000 years. Each wine has a very specific high, which is never mentioned. Château Latour, I don’t know how I stumbled on it, but it went with the music, and it went with the concert. I tried to drink it after the tour was over, and I could hardly get a glass down. It had no resonance whatsoever. It needed the adrenaline of the concert and the music and the atmosphere, the kind of desperate atmosphere of touring—desperate because I was drinking so much! I had a good time with it for a while, but it did wreck my health, and I put on about 25 pounds.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? by Brian D. Johnson (Maclean’s: June 12, 2008)

Leonard Cohen On Drinking Scotch

At this point in the show I would have a cigarette here and drink some obscure scotch like Lagavulin…
– Leonard Cohen at the Dec 5, 2012 Toronto Concert1

Leonard Cohen has been telling his 2012 concert audiences about his intent to start smoking again when he reaches 80. At the Dec 5, 2012 Toronto concert, however, he upped the ante, adding the tippling of scotch to his anticipated 2014 onstage routine.

Consequently, to keep Cohen fans au courant with the Canadian singer-songwriter’s preferences and plans, Cohencentric offers this introduction to …

Lagavulin Scotch

Lagavulin, according to Wikipedia, “is an Islay single malt Scotch whiskey produced at Lagavulin on the island of Islay, United Kingdom. The whiskey has a powerful, peat-smoke aroma, and is described as being robustly full-bodied, well balanced, and smooth, with a slight sweetness on the palate. The standard Lagavulin single malt is 16 years old (43%), though they regularly release a 12-year-old cask strength variety, a Distiller’s edition finished in Pedro Ximénez casks, and 25- and 30-year-old varieties.”

The lowest cost found in an online search this morning [at time of original posting: Dec 7, 2012] for the standard 750 ml bottle of Lagavulin Scotch 16 Year Single Malt was $59 (without shipping costs).

It should be noted that in the past, Leonard Cohen has also indicated, in addition to a taste for scotch, a predilection for cognac2 and Chateau La Tour 1982.3 He also concocted an alcoholic potable named Red Needles, consisting of “tequila and cranberry juice and Sprite and fresh cut fruit.”4

Update: I can affirm that Leonard indeed partook of Lagavulin at least once in 2014. See Lunch At Leonard’s In LA – Leonard Cohen & Kezban Özcan Host Nosh For Duchess & DrHGuy

Note: Originally posted Dec 7, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Quoted in Point of View: Be Leonard Cohen by Samantha Swan (Ardent Pictures: Dec 6, 2012) []
  2. I never discuss my mistresses or my tailors by Nick Paton Walsh. The Observer, Sunday 14 October 2001 []
  3. The Q Magazine Questionnaire in Q Magazine, September 1994 []
  4. Readers who have not previously tried this cocktail are strongly advised to test a few sips before committing to its consumption in quantity []

“Scandinavia’s always been hospitable to me, It’s the gloominess that is savored in these cultures. Or perhaps it’s just all that herring my mother fed me” Leonard Cohen

scandFrom Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993. Scandinavian map by 000peter – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons, Originally posted Jan 6, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

See other Leonard Cohen geopolitical quotes at