“I shouldn’t be in Canada at all. Winter is all wrong for me. I belong beside the Mediterranean. My ancestors made a terrible mistake.” From Book Jacket Of The Spice-Box of Earth By Leonard Cohen

The full dust jacket blurb from The Spice-Box of Earth (1961) follows:

Leonard Cohen, 27, McGill graduate, gives his address as Montreal, but as this book was going to press he was enroute to Cuba. He spent last year on the shores of the Aegean Sea, writing as a result of that experience:

quoteup2
I shouldn’t be in Canada at all. Winter is all wrong for me. I belong beside the Mediterranean. My ancestors made a terrible mistake. But I have to keep coming back to Montreal to renew my neurotic affiliations. Greece has the true philosophic climate—you cannot be dishonest in that light. But it’s only in Montreal that you can get beat up for wearing a beard. I love Montreal. I hate the speculators who are tearing down my favourite streets and erecting those prisons built in the habit of boredom and gold.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

While he prefers swimming in the Aegean, Leonard Cohen admits a fondness for camping in Northern Quebec. He is currently engaged in writing a novel.

“Los Angeles is a great city – it’s falling apart on every level… a very suitable landscape for my dismal expression.” Leonard Cohen

laquake

quoteup2
Los Angeles is a great city — it’s falling apart on every level. Geologically it’s falling apart, politically it’s falling apart, the physical realm is also in deep fragmentation…a very suitable landscape for my dismal expression.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From “Hello! I Must Be Cohen” By Gavin Martin (New Musical Express, January 9, 1993). Photo by Robert A. Eplett – This image is from the FEMA Photo Library., Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note: In addition to experiencing the 1992 Los Angeles earthquake, Leonard Cohen observed the 1992 LA Riots up close and personal from his home:

I live about 8 minutes drive from South Central & the local shops were going up. My 7-11 grocery store went up, Goodman’s Music where I buy my musical supplies, Radio Shack, where I buy my electronics, they all went up. From my balcony I could see five great fires. The air was thick with cinders.1

See other Leonard Cohen geopolitical quotes at

_____________________________

  1. Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993 []

“It’s so melancholy, and neurotic and dirty.” Leonard Cohen Explains To His Sister, Esther, Why His Novel, The Favourite Game, Will Be Popular In Sweden

Learning that his novel was to be published in Swedish, Cohen told Esther that his book would certainly appeal to the Swedes because “it’s so melancholy, and neurotic and dirty.” To Stephen Vizicenzy he wrote that he had abandoned himself entirely to oral gratification: “Eating and kissing. Frankly, I hate to get out of bed. I don’t think I’m a poet maudit after all. Maybe I’ll receive my sense of loss tomorrow.” A month later he wrote to Robert Weaver that “Norway is blonde and glorious and I am popular as a negro with my dark nose. I’ll travel forever.” He danced by himself, listening to Radio Luxembourg. “I can be seen Twisting alone, not even missing London marijuana.”

From Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira Nadel

Note re Poète Maudit: Poète maudit, (French: “accursed poet”), in literary criticism, the poet as an outcast of modern society, despised by its rulers who fear his penetrating insights into their spiritual emptiness. The phrase was first applied by Paul Verlaine in Les Poètes maudits (1884), a collection of critical and biographical studies that focused on the tragedy of the lives of the then little-known Symbolist poets Tristan Corbière, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Arthur Rimbaud. Verlaine may have taken les poètes maudits from Baudelaire’s “Bénédiction,” in which a poet is described as untouched by the suffering and contempt he experiences. The term carries the implication of the low estate into which the poet has fallen from his ancient position as seer and prophet. (Source: Britannica)

“I won’t say anything about my relation to the stage and the audience. I never talk publicly about my intimate relationships.” Elegant Photos & Words From 2012 Paris Leonard Cohen Old Ideas Press Conference

Leonard Cohen Presents

The perpetually dapper and debonair Leonard Cohen was in his element at the Jan 16, 2012 Old Ideas press conference held at the elite, elegant Hôtel de Crillon in Paris.

Cohen’s responses to the queries at the press conference were, as one would expect, predominantly based on his classical forms.

He opened, for example, with a reflex genuflection to the country of the venue (for the record, Leonard Cohen has also presented his credentials for a special relationship with Canada, Ireland,  Spain, and several other countries.). Asked if he had a special relationship with France, Cohen responded

I always believed that the tradition in which I speak, the song was particularly well understood here in France.1

Similarly, he again attributed the remission of his many years of depression to the notion that with old age, one loses a certain kind of brain cells responsible for causing anxiety,  he once more  explained the difference between clinical depression and ordinary disappointment, and revealed, for the 30th time, his passion for flamenco.

Dominique Issermann

There was, however, a bit of new material.

The album is called Old Ideas. These are just eternal themes that I have always been treated and that affect us all. Ordinary, everyday questions, nothing more.2

Probably the most significant new expression from the press conference has to do with the inclusion of blues songs on the album:

Continue Reading →

  1. Nouvel album de Leonard Cohen: un très bon cru by Olivier Nuc. Le Figaro. Jan 17, 2012 []
  2. Les bonnes vieilles idées de Leonard Cohen by Hugo Cassavetti (Telerama: Jan 16, 2012) via Google Translate. []

Q: What was your feeling when you arrived in London? Leonard Cohen: “London welcomes another great writer! There was Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Kelly, Shelley, Keats & now there is me! [Laughs]”

leonard_cohen_at_mrs_pullmans_boarding_house_in_hampstead_1960-scaled1000

What was your feeling when you arrived in London?

quoteup2
London welcomes another great writer! [Laughs] There was Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Kelly, Shelley, Keats and now there is me! [Laughs] Here I am! Living my little life, creating my masterpiece. That’s more or less the feeling I had. I went to Dublin thinking ‘Dublin, say hello to another great Irish author.’ I wrote a play in Dublin and went to the same taverns as Yeats. In London, I could not find the nightlife, except in a Caribbean club called The Allnighter, with very good music, lots of grass, and dancing. My friend Nancy Bacal, a childhood friend from Montreal, knew the city and took me there. She was dating a disciple of Malcolm X, Michael X, who later founded the Black Muslim movement in London. He told me that he was going back to Trinidad to seize power and wanted me to be part of his government. [Laughs] I said ‘Listen, Michael, you’re going to install a black nationalist government. How could I be part of it?’ He said to me: ‘Permanent Advisor to the Ministry of Tourism.’ [Laughs]quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate.

Also see Leonard Cohen At Mrs Pullman’s Boarding House – Hampstead, London 1960 and photos of that location at Stella Pullman’s boardinghouse at 19b Hampstead High Street, London.

“With Hydra, it was love at first sight. The people, the architecture,the sky, the mules, the smell, the life. Everything you looked at was beautiful.” Leonard Cohen

hydrascrn

What made you stay there [on Hydra]?

quoteup2
For one thing, economic reasons: I had little money. Renting the house cost me $14 a month. As for the climate, I had never been in a warm place, I did not know what the Mediterranean climate looked like, it was a delightful surprise. In England, everything is very humid, the beds are wet at night, that’s why women are so strong! (Laughs). The first night Mrs. Pullman gave me a kettle. Why? Undo your bed and you’ll know why (laughs)? With Hydra, it was love at first sight. The people, the architecture,the sky, the mules, the smell, the life. Everything you looked at was beautiful, every corner, every lamp, everything you touched, everything you used was in its proper place. The relationship with the water: there was no running water, you had to catch the water drop by drop, so you knew every drop. You knew everything you used, every time you lit the lamp, you knew that you would have to fill it and clean it the next day. The things you used were rich. It was a very nice feeling. It was more animated than any city, much more cosmopolitan. There were Germans, Scandinavians, Australians, Americans, Dutch who you would run into in very intimate settings like the back of grocery stores.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate.

“I remember laying on a rock after I’d been [in Greece] two months and feeling some interior sliver of ice melt from inside my bones.” Leonard Cohen

hydrascrn

quoteup2
There are many things about Greece; the most important is the climate. I came from Montreal, I had never been warm before. I remember laying on a rock after I’d been there two months and feeling some interior sliver of ice melt from inside my bones. I thought, God…the universe is benign. I was drawn mostly by the sun.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

“Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough” by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988

“The beautiful thing about Montreal was nobody owned the city. Everyone was an honored guest.” Leonard Cohen

Quote from Songs Sacred and Profane by Ira Mothner. Look: June 10, 1969. Originally posted Feb 17, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric