The Scorpion & The Camel: Leonard Cohen’s Story Of The Middle East

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Well, I’m gonna tell you a little story I just heard. There was this scorpion that was trying to get across the stream. He was too small to get across and he came to a camel and said ‘Will you carry me across the stream?’ The camel said, ‘Of course I’m not going to carry you across the stream. You’re a scorpion and you’re gonna sting me.’ Well, after many hours of persuasion, the camel was finally convinced to take the scorpion across the stream. Midway across the stream, the scorpion stung the camel. They’re both going down. They’re both being swept away and the camel says, ‘Why did you sting me?’ and the scorpion says, ‘Because this is the Middle East.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – from “Songs and Thoughts of Leonard Cohen” by Robert O’Brian (RockBill, September 1987). Map By TownDown – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted September 20, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On The “Apocalyptic Landscape” Of Los Angeles As “A Very Appropriate Landscape For My Work”

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I think that L.A. has a very appropriate landscape for my work. It is really truly an apocalyptic landscape. Geologically, the place is about to fly apart. Socially and politically, we know that it’s erupting every two years, there is real social unrest, and many of the writers who’ve worked there have perceived that this is the place where the destruction of the American psyche is going on in a very discernible manner. I find it a very hospitable place to work … The social contract is fraying. People are not quite certain how to behave with one another. It is up for grabs. I don’t like that part of it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen by Barbara Gowdy (November 19, 1992 interview published in One on One: The Imprint Interviews, ed. Leanna Crouch, Somerville House Publishing 1994).  Photo by Robert A. Eplett – This image is from the FEMA Photo Library., Public Domain, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted August 5, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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Leonard Cohen on “what makes [Montreal] a good city for poets”

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Eclecticism is the situation in Montreal continually. It’s because the cultures are distinct. You’re taking something from the English, something from the French, something from the Jews – something from the past, something from the future. That’s what makes it a good city for poets. Things are still distinct. You do know that you’re penetrating into other sensibilities. It isn’t blurred, like in America, where the American idea is so strong.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin. Canadian Forum: August/September 1983. Photo by By Chicoutimi – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted Feb 6, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

More About Leonard Cohen’s Montreal

The best articles about Leonard Cohen’s Montreal homes and haunts as well as videos and a list of pertinent landmarks can be found at Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal.

“A country [Spain] that has something such as flamenco, that has in its tradition poets like Lorca, shouldn’t let itself be influenced, and certainly not governed, by a music made up by another mentality and put on it by strictly commercial interests.” Leonard Cohen 1974

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Interviewer: In spite of being Canadian, you have made the Mediterranean into something of a home. What do countries such as Greece and Spain mean to you?

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That they are two very pure vestiges in a technologized world. The folklore of both countries is something that is not found in many places, although it seems, from what I have seen since my arrival in Barcelona, that it is losing out in favor of Americanization. A country that has something such as flamenco, that has in its tradition poets like Lorca, shouldn’t let itself be influenced, and certainly not governed, by a music made up by another mentality and put on it by strictly commercial interests.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From 1974 Interview with Leonard Cohen by Jordi Sierra I Fabra. Published in Leonard Cohen by Alberto Manzano (1978). Photo by Pete Purnell.Originally posted Jun 5, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“It’s in what they call a slum, not a fashionable slum like Greenwich Village.” Leonard Cohen Talks About “Our House In Montreal”

How do you live now? What style and mode of luxury do you allow yourself?

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It would be hard to describe our house1 in Montréal without seeming that I was being pretentious, on the side of modesty. We live in an extremely small house… [The neighborhood] is one I always liked. It’s in the East End of town, on a Portuguese working class street. Our house is about the size of this room, I would say. There are one and a half levels. It’s very crowded, and I’ve just given my studio over to the babies. I’ll have to get a little apartment across the street. It’s really a beautiful place, and we have a garden. But you should come up and see it. It’s like living in the country in the middle of the city. It’s in what they call a slum, not a fashionable slum like Greenwich Village. But now there’s another writer on the street… [The neighborhood is] safe, that’s the thing. Like the little child Adam runs on the street and goes into the neighbors’ houses. The doors are open, and the children come into our house. You know, if you can stand that sort of thing, it’s extremely nice… I’ve always lived like that. My own personal style of living has changed very very little. I don’t know what I would do otherwise, what would one do?quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen Looks at Himself by Danny Fields. Soho Weekly News, Vol. 1, #9. Dec 5, 1974.

Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal: The best articles about Leonard Cohen’s Montreal homes and haunts as well as videos and a list of pertinent landmarks

Credit Due Department: This outstanding interview was discovered and contributed by Jugurtha Harchaoui. Photo taken by and posted with the permission of Lilian Graziani.
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  1. “Our” refers to Leonard and Suzanne Elrod along with their children, Adam & Lorca []

“The atmosphere here is romantic, more so than any other city I know” Leonard Cohen on Montreal

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When a guy gets attached to a city, it becomes a city of the mind. I still have this notion of Montreal as the capital of the sentimental world – the atmosphere here is romantic, more so than any other city I know. I was formed by this place, and now I feel obligated to give something back to it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

The Trials Of Leonard Cohen by Jack Kapica (Montreal Gazette: Aug 25, 1973). Accessed at the Google Newspaper Archives. Photo of Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, better known as the Church where “the sun pours down like honey, On our lady of the harbour” by Sally Hunter. See Our Lady Of The Harbour – The Montreal Church Embedded In Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne

Resources: Leonard Cohen’s Montreal is a compilation of the best articles about Leonard Cohen’s Montreal homes and haunts as well as videos and a list of pertinent landmarks: