“We would drive through Montreal… Just drive and listen to music, the jukebox. I knew what every jukebox in town played… We liked music, naturally. It wasn’t a passion. We started by listening to Flamenco, then we had enough money to buy records and guitars, and we learned folk songs.” Leonard Cohen On His Teenage Years

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[When] I was 13 or 14 years old, I would pretend to go to bed and I would sneak out of the house to go into town. It was nothing extraordinary. In general, I was alone. I had a few close friends, Rosengarten in particular; we went to school together. He’s still a close friend. We would drive through Montreal in the evening or along the lake. Just drive and listen to music, the jukebox. I knew what every jukebox in town played… We liked music, naturally. It wasn’t a passion. We started by listening to Flamenco, then we had enough money to buy records and guitars, and we learned folk songs. My friend Rosengarten told me I was crazy. I played and replayed the same songs hundreds of times, so well that everyone ran away [laughs]… But it seemed completely natural to me. I had bought a small plastic flute. I drove everybody crazy trying to play ‘Old Black Joe’ [laughs].quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate. Thanks to Maarten Massa for access to this image.

“I don’t remember any early [musical] influences. I think I stole from everybody I ever heard.” Leonard Cohen

Interviewer: Some of Jacques Brel’s early material is very close to yours?

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I hadn’t heard him when I started to write songs but I think many people are indebted to him. I don’t remember any early influences. I think I stole from everybody I ever heard.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen Talks by Billy Walker. Rock: January 3, 1972. Originally posted Feb 11, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I love the Bible and the Book of Isaiah has magnificent language and huge scope and huge optimism. I always loved Isaiah.” Leonard Cohen

From an ABC radio program broadcast from Sydney, Australia in March 1980. Photo by Trounce – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikipedia Commons

The Leonard Cohen Reading List

This is the latest entry to the Leonard Cohen Reading List, a compilation of books commended by the Canadian singer-songwriter.

Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The first music I remember was the liturgy in the synagogue and the Russian songs of my mother…” Leonard Cohen On His Early Musical Influences

gorupdebesanez1

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The first music I remember was the liturgy in the synagogue and the Russian songs of my mother, who had grown up in Lithuania. After the war, I mostly listened to popular music: country, blues, the tunes from the jukebox in the French cafés in Montreal. The fact that French was the dominant language in Montreal made me aware that I belonged to a minority. Thus, I have come to appreciate the peculiarity and the beauty of my own language, English.
quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From ‘Gesprek met Leonard Cohen, de boeteprediker van de popmuziek; Het Oude Testament is mijn handboek’ [Talk with Leonard Cohen, the philosopher of pop music; the Old Testament is my guide] by Pieter Steinz, NRC: December 4, 1992. Photo “Leonard Cohen, 1988 01” by GorupdebesanezOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Credit Due Department: Contributed & translated by Anja Deelen

“My father…had no voice at all. He sang army songs, like ‘K-K-K-K-Katie, my beautiful Katie…’ I’ve modeled myself on his style.” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen by John Walsh (MOJO: September 1994). Photo contributed by Maarten Massa. Originally posted July 23, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“If I have my way, the songs on my next album will all be western. That’s the music I grew up with.” Leonard Cohen 1968

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If I have my way, the songs on my next album will all be western. That’s the music I grew up with. It’s western-middle Eastern, really. A maid in our house turned me on to western music. Stella, she used to yodel. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Poet Writer Singer Lover Cohen by Paul Grescoe (Canadian Magazine: February 10, 1968). Photo from York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp, ASC01709.

“I’d be reluctant to write in an idiom that wasn’t native to me: I wouldn’t want to sing the blues because I’m not black and it’s not my music.” Leonard Cohen On His Musical Influences

“Music was my first job when I was 16 – playing rhythm guitar in a country band” Leonard Cohen

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People have this idea I was a poet who decided to be a songwriter when, actually, it was the other way around. I came to poetry through music. Music was my first job when I was 16 – playing rhythm guitar in a country band. In university, I remember going to the Harvard record library, and I listened to all the folk music records they had over the course of a month. It was because I was so impressed by the beauty of these words written by these anonymous singers that I became interested in poetry, or what was called poetry then. I know Russian music, because my mother sang Russian songs around the house. I know country. and I know Greek music, because I lived there for several years. So I feel comfortable with all those styles. I’d be reluctant to write in an idiom that wasn’t native to me: I wouldn’t want to sing the blues because I’m not black and it’s not my music. I sympathize with black songwriters who have watched while white singers take often identical arrangements of songs and be successful with them.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From I Have To Think About Every Word I Write… by Liam Lacey. Globe and Mail: April 27, 1985.

“It’s like anything that you fall in love with is going to give you a certain kind of blindness. I think you are blinded to your own imperfections and limitations.” Leonard Cohen On Discovering Frederico Garcia Lorca’s Poetry

Lorca, how did he help you find your own voice?

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Well, I don’t know how he helped me find my own voice. Since he seemed exotic and far away, he allowed me to steal or borrow a lot of his voice. It’s like anything that you fall in love with is going to give you a certain kind of blindness. I think you are blinded to your own imperfections and limitations. It allows you to kind of lurch forward on the path that you want to choose for yourself. I don’t think that’s the real benefit of falling in love with a writer when you’re young. With Lorca, when I stumbled on him, it was something that was terribly familiar, it seemed to be the way that things really were. The evocation of a landscape that you’re really felt at home in, maybe more at home than anything you’ve been able to come up with yourself.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From CBC Radio Interview with Leonard Cohen with Cindy Buissaillon: August 26, 1995. Originally posted May 24, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric