“There are no dirty words – ever” Leonard Cohen 1965

In Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen, a 1965 National Film Board of Canada production, a sound engineer tells Leonard, who is preparing to record his poem, A Kite Is A Victim from Spice-Box Of Earth, that “any place you come across a dirty word we have to delete it.”

Leonard’s response: “Yeah, well, there are no dirty words. Ever!”

“I feel a sense of gratitude that people have come [to my concert] and have bought tickets and are in front of me. And I think my natural sense of courtesy compels me to do the best job that I can.” Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen interviewed by Hans Pfitzinger in Paris, 1988. The image is a screen capture from video by Wayne Weber. Originally posted Nov 5, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“There’s no such thing as a casual performance” Leonard Cohen On Performing Live

You felt quite able to project the very personal, interior vision of your songs in front of 130,000 people?

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When you’re singing for that many people, it becomes private again. This last concert I gave in Paris, the stage was high, like the side of a building, and the audience was way, way, way down there, so you’re really only dealing with the microphone. They’re at an event, they’re outside, the wind is howling, it’s an event on a different order and you take your place in the moment. But an audience of two or three or four thousand is the real test, because you can really do all the wrong things, you can play to the crowd, you can play for laughs, you can play for self-pity, you can play for heroic aspect; there are so many ways of selling out in front of an audience. There’s no such thing as a casual performance; one has an exact notion of what one is going to do out there.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen: The Romantic In A Ragpicker’s Trade by Paul Williams (Crawdaddy, March 1975). Photo by J..S. Carenza III.

“I never mind a sleeping audience. If they’re not sleepy when I get there I sure make sure they are when I leave.” Leonard Cohen

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Don’t an audience have to be wide awake and attentive to take in your material?

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When you’re sleepy also your enemy is sleepy, your internal enemy. So that when that enemy is generally on guard it’s so alert that he stops you from hearing most things, so when he’s sleepy a lot of things get past him so I never mind a sleeping audience. If they’re not sleepy when I get there I sure make sure they are when I leave.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Also See: “There’s something happens to the audience when they’re drinking.” Leonard Cohen

From The Sounds Interview 1971 by Billy Walker. Sounds: October 23, 1971. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles. Photo by Guido Harari. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I like a [concert venue] that serves liquor… There’s something happens to the audience when they’re drinking.” Leonard Cohen

Leonard’s show was a soft-focus reflection of his somber side. Even his song introductions were sweet prose: “This examines betrayal from a point of view,” and “This is a dialog between you and your perfect lover…a song of unrelenting pessimism.” His tender-cold lament for the late Janis Joplin included her rejection of his advances: “I knew you well in the Chelsea Hotel…You told me again/You prefer handsome men/But for me you’d make an exception.” Cohen’s mastery of the facetious rhyme was woven throughout his melancholy. It was his recurring effort to “kinda wash the place out, change the air.” He mused, “I like a place that serves liquor. Uh, you know, there’s something happens to the audience when they’re drinking.”

Also See: “I never mind a sleeping audience” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Lately – A Leonard Cohen interview-article by Bill Conrad. Posted May 7, 2012 at No Depression. Note: Although not published until 2012, the article is based on an interview that took place in autumn 1976.

“If they don’t like you they just get up and leave” Leonard Cohen On Why He Likes To Perform For Mental Patients


From Famous Last Words from Leonard Cohen by Paul Saltzman. Maclean’s: June 1972. Photo by Peter Brosseau. Found at Library and Archives Canada. Originally posted Dec 19, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

“I didn’t get enough money or women or fame for me to quit. I don’t have enough yet, so I’ve got to keep on playing. I know it’s rather unbecoming at forty to keep it all going, but I have to do it.” Leonard Cohen 1977

[I asked] Cohen about longevity in songwriters, why so few lasted past adolescence.

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I think there are a number of things that bear on that. You can burn yourself out, for one. The late teens and twenties are generally the lyric phase of a writer’s career. If you achieve enough fame and women and money during that period, you quit, because that’s generally the motivation. I mean, I didn’t get enough money or women or fame for me to quit. I don’t have enough yet, so I’ve got to keep on playing. I know it’s rather unbecoming at forty to keep it all going, but I have to do it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

The Obscure Case of Leonard Cohen and The Mysterious Mr. M. by Bruce Pollock (After Dark: February 1977). Found at LeonardCohenFiles.

“I never thought we were singers. I certainly never had any musical standards to tyrannize me. I thought it was something to do with the truth, that if you told your story, that’s what the song was about.” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen Interviewed About Judy Collins and “Suzanne”. Photo Credit: Peter Brosseau/Library and Archives Canada/PA-170174.