Leonard Cohen On His Image (And Bob Dylan’s)

People have this image of you. If somebody says ‘Bob Dylan’, you think ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’. I don’t resist it, I tell you, I feel lucky to have any kind of image, because the scene is ferociously competitive; there is so much good stuff around. To be able to have any kind of identity at all, and one which enables you to make a living–that’s always been a concern of mine. My records have never sold in those vast quantities; until very recently, they sold very modestly, and they still sell modestly in relationship to the people who are considered pop icons. So, yes, ‘Suzanne’, ‘melancholy’, whatever the designations are, I’m ready to live with them, even embrace them.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen…What’s Your Problem? Doom and Gloom by Patrick Humphries (Vox: February, 1993), Originally posted Nov 7, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Bob Dylan And Bob Dylan On Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s comment about Bob Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize, “It’s like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain,” is a notable but hardly exclusive manifestation of the interface between the preeminent bards of contemporary music. Since the 1960s, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan shared what Larry “Ratso” Sloman has called “a relationship of tremendous mutual respect.”

A collection of posts about the interface between Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan, including their opinions of each other, their interactions, and their occasional differences can be found at

Credits: Leonard’s evaluation of Bob Dylan is from a 1994 Q Magazine interview (photo courtesy of Leonard Cohen); Bob Dylan’s assessment of Leonard is from the 2016 New Yorker Leonard Cohen profile by David Remnick (photo by Alberto Cabello via Wikipedia Commons).

Leonard Cohen Talks About How Bob Dylan Did And Did Not Impact His Musical Career



From Lenny Plays It Cool by Bud Scoppa (Music Connection, April 6-19, 1987)

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

Posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

“Isn’t that wonderful when all the pieces fit?” Leonard Cohen Talks About The Impact Of Songs That Resonate

It’s just how they [songs] resonate. You know they resonate with a truth that is hard to locate but which is operating with some force in your life. I often feel that about a Dylan song or a song even with Edith Piaf…the words are going too fast for me to really understand them in French but you feel that they are talking about something that is true, that you can’t locate by yourself and someone has located it for you and you just feel like you’ve put in the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle for that moment. That a moment has been clarified. The moment that you’re in at the moment that you’re listening to it. Yeah, the pieces fit…Isn’t that wonderful when all the pieces fit?quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen’s response to the comment by Lian Lunson, director of the I’m Your Man documentary (2005), that The Traitor was one of her favorite songs but “I can’t get my hands around what it’s about.” From Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters by Jeff Burger, (Chicago Review Press, Apr 1, 2014). Photo by Dominique BOILE.

Leonard Cohen Quotes Dylan: “As Dylan says in one of his songs, ‘I know my song well before I start singing’ That’s usually the case because it takes so long to really know it.”

From Lenny Plays It Cool by Bud Scoppa (Music Connection, April 6-19, 1987)

Note: The Dylan song from which Mr Cohen quotes is, of course, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

Leonard Cohen-Bob 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

Note: Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Bob Dylan’s “Ballad Of A Thin Man” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox


Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. There was “The Great Pretender,” “Cross Over the Road.” I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.

– Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Renik Van den Eynde points out that Leonard Cohen’s admiring use of Dylan’s lyrics from The Ballad Of A Thin Man qualifies it for Leonard Cohen’s jukebox:

I don’t know what is happening, and I don’t care what is happening, to tell you the truth, it’s none of my business. I know that the explanations that are available have their various degrees of interest, but nothing seems to be speaking to me personally about what is happening. I tend to, you know, let my attention wander from the various channels of information, whether they be newspapers, television, art, song, literature and even conversation; so something is happening, as Dylan says, but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones. So that’s the way I feel. So what is happening or what has happened to me or my writing or my lyrics, I’m not interested in the explanation, even my own, I’m only interested in the feeling that is just answering the appetite to describe moments and feelings that somehow has not been described in what is available.1

The referenced Dylan lyrics follow:

Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?
You raise up your head and you ask, “Is this where it is?”
And somebody points to you and says, “It’s his”

Bob Dylan – Ballad of a Thin Man
Desert Trip, Coachella: Oct 14, 2016

Bob Dylan Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Leonard Cohen-Bob 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


  1. From Interview with Leonard Cohenby Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005 []