“Browbeating an audience, subjecting people to all this intensity [in a show]. I sometimes feel guilty about it, but you’ve got to make a living.” Leonard Cohen On Performing – 1976

Leonard Cohen bowed from the waist—romantic theatrics—and opened his show with “Bird On A Wire,” one of his many dark masterpieces. He told the audience he liked playing clubs because “people can talk to you, praise you, put you down.” The stage became his farthest distance from his island retreat. It’s where “Every night is a problem, a challenge, a test just to get through without humiliating yourself.” Cohen loved enduring, “browbeating an audience, subjecting people to all this intensity. I sometimes feel guilty about it, but you’ve got to make a living.”

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.

Originally posted Apr 3, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“They had cassettes of my songs and Xeroxes of my books. Tickets were scalped for a month’s wages.” Leonard Cohen On Poland’s Response To Him In 1985

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I was totally unprepared for the response in Poland [in 1985]. They had cassettes of my songs and Xeroxes of my books. Tickets were scalped for a month’s wages. It was almost embarrassing. ‘The Partisan’ became a kind of anthem in the detention camps after Solidarity was outlawed and there was a large roundup of people. Lech Walesa sent me greetings when I entered. I had the Pope’s bodyguard.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen Work Finds A Place by Mary Campbell (AP – Kentucky New Era: June 29, 1985). Poster for the March 19, 1985 Leonard Cohen concert at Arena Poznan’ in Poznan, Poland (inscription: The Legendary Bard Of The Protest Song, The Great Poet And The Composer)  contributed by jeremek, who originally posted it at LeonardCohenForum. Originally posted Sep 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On The Significance Of His Spanish Guitar & Federico García Lorca

Cohen spoke two really beautiful phrases in his recital. First, he said that his guitar had come home. And at the end of the recital, he dedicated his first concert in Spain to Federico García Lorca.1 The guitar comment was clear; it was a Spanish guitar. But why the dedication?

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It’s not that I wanted to earn sympathy by dedicating the recital to Lorca. When I was fifteen years old I discovered a book of his poems that I always took with me, until the book began to lose its pages. He is the poet who has influenced me the most, so much so that a month ago I had a daughter and I decided to call her Lorca, Lorca Cohen. What can I say about a name that at one point in my life changed my way of being and thinking in a radical way? The other part is the Spanish guitar, the deep cante of a people that has known how to place the singer in the position not of someone who is a show but something that has to do with the people and, more than that, with their emotions. I mean flamenco singing. That’s why I have always felt a special desire to perform in Spain.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Words And Silences by Constantino Romero (1974). Republished in Rockdelux 356 (December 2016). Via Google Translate.

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  1. Leonard Cohen’s first Spanish concert in 1974 was in Barcelona (Oct 12) []

“There are some things that are designed to rest on the page and not be spoken” Leonard Cohen On Sexualized Language In His Poems

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What I’d really like to know is why your poetry is so stark, so incredibly blunt – a poem like for instance …

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I like that poem… If it didn’t have the word ‘cunt’ in it I’d probably read it out loud on stage. But I’m not ready to say that word well enough yet. There are some things that are designed to rest on the page and not be spoken…quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Note: The word “cunt” appears in at least five poems by Leonard Cohen written before the date of this interview (all published in The Energy of Slaves):

  • This Is the Only Poem
  • I Will Grow Old
  • You Are A Much Finer Person Than I Am
  • Cutting The Hair
  • We Call It Sunlight

Leonard Cohen also discusses the use of “cunt” in his writing at “People should have a kind of nervous reaction to that word. It is one of the sacred words and it deserves to be whispered.” Leonard Cohen On Sexualized Language In His Writing.

Suffering For Fan And Profit – The Return Of Leonard Cohen by Mick Brown. Sounds: July 3, 1976, Accessed 26 April 2014 at LeonardCohenFiles. Photo Credit: Roloff Beny / Library and Archives Canada / PA-196331. Originally posted Apr 26, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

“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