Among Leonard Cohen’s most effective skills as a wordsmith is his capacity to transform a phrase from the vernacular into an elegant and appealing lyric that resonates with his audience. Today’s featured quotation is an example of this technique; it is not, however, a line from a Leonard Cohen poem, novel, or song. As far as I can determine, the first time “The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show,” was published was in a Feb 24, 2009 New York Times interview, Leonard Cohen Returns to the Road, for Reasons Both Practical and Spiritual by Larry Rohter.
In 2015 (when I first posted about this phenomenon), this remark became, according to my incredibly unscientific social media monitoring, the second most popular Leonard Cohen quotation on Twitter (the most popular continues to be “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” from Anthem) as well as being well represented on other platforms. Clearly, these words articulate an idea that responds to our unspoken and often unrecognized concerns.