“I’m a hard-bitten professional…When I say professional, I don’t mean cold & unfeeling & automatic. I mean someone who is prepared to take the risks of the evening without making any excuses…” Leonard Cohen 1974


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I’m a hard-bitten professional. I’m not just some traveling youth who just picked up his harp. I go from stage to stage and I sing my songs … When I say professional, I don’t mean cold and unfeeling and automatic. I mean someone who is prepared to take the risks of the evening without making any excuses for them.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen in His Own Words by Jim Devlin. 1998. Photo by Pete Purnell.. Originally posted December 17, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Performing In Israel: “I feel a very special kind of nourishment. So, it is different. It is different because it arises from very deep wells of affiliation”

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 13, 2016: Leonard Cohen event for the release of his new album "You Want It Darker" on October 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Sony Music Canada)

Was it especially moving for you as a Jewish man to perform in Israel?

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Well, there’s a deep tribal aspect to my own nature. So, when I’m in contact with those deep resources, of course I feel a very special kind of nourishment. So, it is different. It is different because it arises from very deep wells of affiliation. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen event for the release of his new album “You Want It Darker” on October 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California

Credit Due Department: Photo by Frank Micelotta/Sony Music Canada

Leonard Cohen “This is probably my last tour” – 1972

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This is probably my last tour and I wanted to go round and say goodbye to people quietly. I have ten to fifteen unfinished songs and when I finish the tour I’ll go back to Montreal and get round to finishing them off. I will also finish a book I have been writing for two years.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

That’s what Leonard Cohen told the interviewer from Muther Grumble1 after his March 22, 1972  concert in Newcastle.

A review of the concert and the complete interview can be found at Muther Grumble, Issue 4 – April 1972. A few excerpts follow:

Newcastle City Hall was booked out well in advance for this Leonard Cohen concert and tickets were even sold for the platform behind the stage to enable more people to be crammed in to see the performance. …

… Throughout the performance he was given some excellent backing by his touring band. Trouble came in the fact that a mike Cohen was using packed up but after Cohen called the ‘electronic gods’ to his aid somehow the mike came to life again (clever roadies or was there something really in it folks?).

After about one and a half hours of really beautiful music, Cohen left the stage followed by tumultuous cries of ‘More’, to which he replied with ‘Tonight will be Fine’. Cohen attempted to leave again only to be arrested by the crowd’s pleas. Back he came and gave ‘Bird on the Wire’ and ‘Marianne’ once more. Still the crowd insisted on hearing more, but with a seemingly humble ‘thank you’ Leonard Cohen left and now a silence reigned as people asked themselves ‘can we let him go now?’, and then decided that Cohen had given his utmost and no more could be given.

Leonard Cohen off-stage is not the morose, introverted character that one might expect from listening to his songs and reading his poetry. A very self-assured, wary human being is what I met backstage at the City Hall. He is perhaps a good advertisement for unburdening one’s troubles by way of writing and singing.

The majority of his songs are heart-searching expositions of his life and times and I asked him his intentions in making these public: “When I perform I’m trying to present me – and us – in the hope that my audience can relate to me and perhaps sort out their own troubles. I suppose also it’s a case of music soothing the savage breast.”

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is from the same Muther Grumble article. The image of the Muther Grumble cover is from the magazine’s archives site.

Note: Originally posted Mar 24, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Muther Grumble was an alternative newspaper produced between 1971 and 1973 in Durham City, UK, and circulating in North-East England. Seventeen issues were published, in A4 format, and the print run peaked at 8,000. (Wikipedia) []

“I think the thing we like about a singer is that he’s really singing with his own voice. He’s not putting you on. That’s why people like me can get away with making records.” Leonard Cohen

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The Profits Of Doom by Steve Turner. Q Magazine: April 1988.

Credit Due Department:Photo by Ted McDonnell.

Note: Originally posted Oct 8, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On The “Religious Feel” Of His Performance – And James Brown’s

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[My performance is] not self-consciously religious. I know that it’s been described that way, and I am happy with that. It’s part of the intentional fallacy. But when I see James Brown, it has a religious feel. Anything deep does.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick (New Yorker: October 17, 2016). Photo by Heinrich Klaffs – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia

“There are times when you want to show the flag, when you want to indicate that there is nourishment to be had from this culture” Leonard Cohen Explains Why He Chose Shaar Hashomayim Choir To Sing On You Want It Darker

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Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue – Montreal (about 1910-11)

We can hear the voices of the choir of the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue of Montreal, why did you choose them? 

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Even as a boy I loved their singing. It is what made compulsory synagogue attendance enjoyable. I’ve wanted to work with the cantor and the choir for a long time. The touring years interrupted this intention. On a secondary but still urgent note, there are times when you want to show the flag, when you want to indicate that there is nourishment to be had from this culture, that it is not entirely irrelevant to the present situation, that it does not serve a nation’s best interests to reject and despise it. This is more important in some countries than in others.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Le Dernier Empereur by J.D. Beauvallet and Pierre Siankowski (Les Inrocks: Oct 19, 2016) [From original questionnaire (in English) forwarded to me by Leonard Cohen]

Leonard Cohen: “I didn’t sing for 15 years, and now you can’t get rid of me” – Toronto 2012

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I didn’t sing for 15 years, and now you can’t get rid of me. We might not see each other ever again, but, tonight, we’ll give you everything we’ve got.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 
Leonard Cohen at Dec 4, 2012 Toronto Concert, quoted in Leonard Cohen: Paying rent in the tower of song sounds divine, Brad Wheeler’s review of that show (Globe And Mail: Dec 5, 2012)
 
Note: Originally posted Dec 5, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

What Leonard Cohen Says About Being Described As The “Canadian Bob Dylan”

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Q: Back in the ’60s, there was talk of you being a Canadian Bob Dylan. Didn’t you make that analogy yourself at the time?

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No. That got into the press. I’d never say that any more than I’d say I want to be the next William Yeats or the next Bliss Carman. You know how that arose? There was a party at Frank Scott’s house. I had a record of Bob Dylan, and I brought it to this party. There were all these poets, Layton, and Dudek and maybe Phyllis Webb. It was probably Bringing it All Back Home. It was one of his early records I said, fellas, listen to this. This guy’s a real poet. I put the record on, and it was greeted with yawns. They said, ‘That’s not a poet.’ I said, ‘No, I insist, let me play it again.’ They said, ‘Do you want to be that?’ That’s how it arose. But it’s not my syntax. Anyway, they didn’t like it. But I put it on a few more times, and by the end of evening they were dancing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

See Leonard Cohen Introduces Bob Dylan’s Music To Major Canadian Poets At 1966 Montreal Poetry Party

Q: You said that an audience brings a lot to someone like Bob Dylan. They bring a lot to you as well.

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Yes they do. As I said in the concert, this is every musician’s dream, to stand in front of an audience and not have to prove your credentials, to come into that warmth. Of course, it creates other anxieties, because you really want to deliver. There’s a lot to live up to. But it is quite a rare thing.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Both excerpts are from Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? by Brian D. Johnson (Maclean’s: June 12, 2008)

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

Posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at