What Leonard Cohen Says About Being Described As The “Canadian Bob Dylan”

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Q: Back in the ’60s, there was talk of you being a Canadian Bob Dylan. Didn’t you make that analogy yourself at the time?

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No. That got into the press. I’d never say that any more than I’d say I want to be the next William Yeats or the next Bliss Carman. You know how that arose? There was a party at Frank Scott’s house. I had a record of Bob Dylan, and I brought it to this party. There were all these poets, Layton, and Dudek and maybe Phyllis Webb. It was probably Bringing it All Back Home. It was one of his early records I said, fellas, listen to this. This guy’s a real poet. I put the record on, and it was greeted with yawns. They said, ‘That’s not a poet.’ I said, ‘No, I insist, let me play it again.’ They said, ‘Do you want to be that?’ That’s how it arose. But it’s not my syntax. Anyway, they didn’t like it. But I put it on a few more times, and by the end of evening they were dancing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

See Leonard Cohen Introduces Bob Dylan’s Music To Major Canadian Poets At 1966 Montreal Poetry Party

Q: You said that an audience brings a lot to someone like Bob Dylan. They bring a lot to you as well.

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Yes they do. As I said in the concert, this is every musician’s dream, to stand in front of an audience and not have to prove your credentials, to come into that warmth. Of course, it creates other anxieties, because you really want to deliver. There’s a lot to live up to. But it is quite a rare thing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

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

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

Leonard Cohen Introduces Bob Dylan’s Music To Major Canadian Poets At 1966 Montreal Poetry Party

dylanfIn 1966, Leonard Cohen introduced Bob Dylan’s music to a group of the preeminent Canadian poets, including F.R. Scott, A.J.M. Smith, Leonard’s friend Layton Irving, his McGill professor Louis Dudek, Al Purdy, and Ralph Gustafson.  The response was not encouraging – although a replay at 10 PM resulted in dancing. The following excerpt is from Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira B. Nadel (Random House of Canada: Oct 29, 2010)

diylanpatyfUpdate: Leonard Cohen Clarifies His “Canadian Bob Dylan” Epithet & That 1966 Party At Frank Scott’s House

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

“I listened to [Bob Dylan], and I thought, he has already done it. What I wanted to do was write the best I could in a simple way and lay it out for people.” Leonard Cohen (1969)

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From Songs Sacred and Profane by Ira Mothner. Look: June 10, 1969.

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

Credit Due Department: The photo is by Unknown – BobDylan-1964StLawrenceYearbook-3, from the 1964 yearbook of St. Lawrence University, Public Domain, via Wikipedia

Note: Originally posted Nov 21, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Larry “Ratso” Sloman on Leonard Cohen & Bob Dylan: “A Relationship Of Tremendous Mutual Respect”

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I think [the connection between Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan] is a relationship of tremendous mutual respect. I’m close to both of them and know the high regard one holds for the other. Whenever I see Leonard, the first question he always asks me is “How’s Bob?”quotedown2

Larry “Ratso” Sloman

Larry “Ratso” Sloman, author of On The Road With Bob Dylan, in Dec 13, 2004 radio broadcast.

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

Note: Originally posted April 28, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Dylan was what I’d always meant by the poet.” Leonard Cohen (1967)

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Leonard Cohen 1967

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It wasn’t [Bob Dylan’s] originality which first impressed me, but his familiarity. He was a person out of my books, singing to the real guitar. Dylan was what I’d always meant by the poet.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Beautiful Creep By Richard Goldstein. Village Voice: December 28, 1967

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

Credit Due Department: The photo is from York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp, Identifiers: ASC01709

Note: Originally posted Dec 8, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize: “It’s like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain”

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Photo and quote are from the Oct 13, 2016 Leonard Cohen You Want It Darker Launch Event (Los Angeles). Posted by

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 on Leonard Cohen: “His gift or genius is in his connection to the music of the spheres”

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His gift or genius is in his connection to the music of the spheres. In the song ‘Sisters of Mercy,’ for instance, the verses are four elemental lines which change and move at predictable intervals… but the tune is anything but predictable. The song just comes in and states a fact. And after that anything can happen and it does, and Leonard allows it to happen. His tone is far from condescending or mocking. He is a tough-minded lover who doesn’t recognize the brush-off. Leonard’s always above it all. ‘Sisters of Mercy’ is verse after verse of four distinctive lines, in perfect meter, with no chorus, quivering with drama. The first line begins in a minor key. The second line goes from minor to major and steps up, and changes melody and variation. The third line steps up even higher than that to a different degree, and then the fourth line comes back to the beginning. This is a deceptively unusual musical theme, with or without lyrics. But it’s so subtle a listener doesn’t realize he’s been taken on a musical journey and dropped off somewhere, with or without lyrics.quotedown2

Bob Dylan

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

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

Credit Due Department: Photo by Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz – Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia

Videos: Bob Dylan Covers Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah Twice – Montreal & Los Angeles 1988

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Leonard Cohen Sings “Hallelujah” To Bob Dylan

It’s a rather joyous song . I like very much the last verse. I remember singin’ it to Bob Dylan after his last concert in Paris. The morning after, I was having coffee with him and we traded lyrics. Dylan especially liked this last verse “And even though it all went wrong, I stand before the Lord of song With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah

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Of course, no post about Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and “Hallelujah” would be complete without the anecdote, a classic in Cohen’s repertoire, about the contrast in the time required by Dylan and Cohen to compose a song. The story appears in several Cohen interviews. The following iteration is from Leonard Cohen, Los Angeles 1992, a section of “Songwriters On Songwriting” by Paul Zollo:

That [“Hallelujah”] was a song that took me [Leonard Cohen] a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years.

Then I praise a song of his, “I and I,” and asked him how long it had taken and he said, “Fifteen minutes.” [Laughter]

Bob Dylan Sings “Hallelujah” To  Leonard Cohen’s Montreal

Dylan was one of the first artists to cover “Hallelujah,” performing it twice in his 1988 concert tour.. When Dylan’s Never Ending Tour came to Montreal in 1988, he performed “Hallelujah.” Dylan also sang it in Los Angeles on Aug 4, 1988.

Bob Dylan – Hallelujah
Montreal: July 8, 1988

Bob Dylan – Hallelujah
Hollywood: Aug 4, 1988

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Credit Due Department: Photo of Dylan playing Barcelona in 1984 by Stoned59 – originally posted to Flickr as Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia

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

Note: Originally posted May 10, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. From 1985 interview published in Paroles et Musiques []