“I started playing guitar in 1950, when I spent the summer in a socialist summer camp near Montreal. I really liked the people there because they were the only ones who were interested in songs as a form of self-expression – as people’s music.” Leonard Cohen

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From ”En tunne vanhenevani lainkaan” – Leonard Cohen Soundissa 1976: The 2016 reprint of a June 1976 Leonard Cohen interview by Dougie Gordon. (Soundi: Nov 11, 2016). Via computer translation. Photo of “Leonard Cohen playing for my mom & uncle, early 1950s, at my great grandmother’s summer campby noahbloom

“To move a song from a slogan to an authentic expression is really what the enterprise is about… discarding the lines that come too easy… waiting until something else bubbles up that is a little truer” Leonard Cohen On The 3 Steps Of Creating A Song

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I wish it didn’t take so long to finish a song and to make a record… it seems to be a long process… it’s trying to discover how I really feel about something. To move a song from a slogan to an authentic expression is really what the enterprise is about… discarding the lines that come too easy…  waiting until something else bubbles up that is a little truer… There’s the writing of the song, which can be laborious and difficult; there’s the recording of the song in the studio, which also takes a tremendous concentration… to materialize the songs. And then the third part of the process is singing the songs in front of other people.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen, speaking “for German television in 1997,” quoted in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia by Michael Gray (2006). Photo by Johann Agust Hansen.

Leonard Cohen (1965): “I think I’m going to record myself singing my poems” Leonard’s Friend: “Please don’t”

Cohen’s career took a new jog when, one day in the summer of 1965 in a suite in Toronto’s King Edward Hotel, Cohen sat on a sagging couch composing tunes on a mouth organ. In between he tried singing his poems to a friend. In an adjoining bedroom, visible through an open door, a naked couple twisted and moaned through the songs, their concentration on Leonard’s music and their own rhythms clearly affected by middle-class amounts of cocaine and marijuana. Cohen chose to interpret their noises positively. “I think I’m going to record myself singing my poems,” he said. His friend winced at the sound of Cohen’s nasal voice. “Please don’t,” she replied. The admonition showed much esthetic sense but lacked all commercial judgment. In 1967 Cohen released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, and a cult of international dimensions was established. Today his books can be read in 11 languages: book sales are over two million volumes and record sales are around the 9‘/2-million mark. His Selected Poems sold 700,000 copies in the United States alone. “A phenomenal sale for a book of poetry,” says Viking Press President Thomas Ginsburg.

 

From Leonard Cohen Says That to All the Girls by Barbara Amiel. Maclean’s: Sept 18, 1978. \

“I was unaware of the techniques of collective enterprise” Leonard Cohen On The Making Of Songs Of Leonard Cohen

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I had some trouble with my first record in getting the kind of music I wanted because I hadn’t worked with men for a long time. I had worked by myself and I forgot what was necessary to work with men. I forgot how to make your ideas known to other people. The fault was completely mine. I was unaware of the techniques of collective enterprise, I just didn’t know then. I’m a little more aware of them now.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Michael Harris. Duel: Winter 1969.

“I sometimes see myself in the Court of Ferdinand, singing my songs to girls over a lute” Leonard Cohen

DrHGuy Note: Of course, this begs the question of how he got those girls over a lute to start with.

From Beautiful Creep By Richard Goldstein. Village Voice: December 28, 1967. Photo of Leonard Cohen performing at Queen’s Park Love-in – Yorkville, Toronto 1967, taken by Bill Dampier, is credited to York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, ASC26833. Originally posted Dec 5, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I was able to take the time to find exactly the right mood for the narrator, until the vocals married with the track and the song’s content, so the voice represented the song rather than simply unfolded it.” Leonard Cohen On Recording Ten New Songs At 4 A.M.

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I had to start singing before the birds, and the traffic on Olympic, and before my daughter’s dogs started barking. It was very relaxed at those times, four or five a.m., to come in and find the right place to stand or sit, and have the right drink or smoke in your hand, lean back, go back, erase, go forward. It was a very luxurious way to do the vocals. I was able to take the time to find exactly the right mood for the narrator, until the vocals married with the track and the song’s content, so the voice represented the song rather than simply unfolded it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen by Eric Rudolph (Mix: Feb 1, 2002). Photo of Leonard Cohen taken by Ethan Hill in 2001 and published in Rolling Stone.