“Dylan’s a Picasso–that exuberance, range, and assimilation of the whole history of music.” Leonard Cohen


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Most music criticism is in the nineteenth century. It’s so far behind, say, the criticism of painting. It’s still based on nineteenth century art–cows beside a stream and trees and ‘I know what I like.’ There’s no concession to the fact that Dylan might be a more sophisticated singer than Whitney Houston, that he’s probably the most sophisticated singer we’ve had in a generation. Nobody is identifying out popular singers like a Matisse or Picasso. Dylan’s a Picasso–that exuberance, range, and assimilation of the whole history of music.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From an interview with Mark Rowland published in Musician (1988)

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 On The 1960s – He Was Not Impressed (Except With Dylan)


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Except for one or two great poets like Dylan, I saw a lot that was extremely fuzzy. Then when I found out how bad the acid had been, what a bummer it really was. I started to suspect that all was not as it had been advertised. Then when I got ripped off by some people who wore boots and had long hair, I knew for certain that nothing had changed.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Quotation from Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993. Photo by Paul Townsend. Originally posted Jan 8, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Alludes To Dylan Song In “Democracy”

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There is a line in Democracy that referred specifically to the Dylan song ‘Everybody is Broken.’ The line is ‘The singer says it’s broken and the painter says it’s gray.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Paul Zollo, Songwriters on Songwriting, Da Capo Press, 2003.

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

Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, & Leonard Cohen

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[Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan have] known each other for a long time, and I know there’s a lot of respect for each other. Jennifer Warnes told me a story once that there was a BMI [Broadcast Music, Inc] dinner once, they were honouring Bob Dylan. And Leonard was there and Jennifer was there. And at one point, Bob Dylan took Elizabeth Taylor by the hand and said, ‘Come, let me introduce you to a real poet…’quotedown2

Roscoe Beck

 

Leonard Cohen: Behind The Scenes, Part 6! by Michael Bonner (Uncut: November 19, 2008)

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 is Artist X; Bob Dylan is Artist Y

cdiThe latest entry in the Leonard Cohen is Artist X; Bob Dylan is Artist Y was published yesterday:

Were Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen the Mozart and Beethoven of 20th-Century Folk Rock? By Sara Schabas (Musical Toronto: February 22, 2017

Before that was

Leonard Cohen is John Donne to Bob Dylan’s Shakespeare by Edward Docx (The Guardian: Nov 19, 2016)

And Leonard himself put it this way:

“Dylan’s achievement is so monumental. He was the Picasso. I’m the Matisse. I love Matisse, but I’m in awe of Picasso.” Leonard Cohen1

And, just to mix things up, let’s change Bob Dylan to Phil Collins:

In 1995 Cohen’s manager, Kelley Lynch, put together Tower of Song, a set of his compositions sung by bigger stars including Sting and Bono. She asked Phil Collins, who turned her down.

Cohen himself sent Collins a fax, saying: “Would Beethoven refuse the invitation of Mozart?” Collins faxed back: “No, unless Beethoven was on a world tour at the time.”

Cohen understood: “It’s kind of a pain in the ass, to think about somebody else’s dismal songs when you’re not even in the studio.”2

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

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  1. From “Cohen’s Future Is Now” by Jim Slotek: Toronto Sun, November 19, 1992 []
  2. From  Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen’s head? by Tim de Lisle (The Guardian, 17 September 2004) []

Leonard Cohen Interprets Bob Dylan’s Comparison: “As far as I’m concerned, Leonard, you’re Number 1. I’m Number Zero.”

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After a while, he [Bob Dylan] told Cohen that a famous songwriter of the day had told him, “O.K., Bob, you’re Number 1, but I’m Number 2.”

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Then Dylan says to me, ‘As far as I’m concerned, Leonard, you’re Number 1. I’m Number Zero.’ Meaning, as I understood it at the time—and I was not ready to dispute it—that his work was beyond measure and my work was pretty good.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016)