Leonard Cohen on the obsolescence of descriptions like conservative, liberal… “in the face of the catastrophe that everybody’s really dealing with”

In 1993, when Leonard Cohen appeared on the BBC TV show, Later with Jools Holland, the host asked if he believed he was an optimistic person. Leonard’s reply is as pertinent, penetrating, and powerful today as it was then.

Everybody’s kind of hanging onto their broken orange crate in the flood, and when you pass someone else, to declare yourself an optimist or a pessimist, or pro-abortion or against abortion, or a conservative or a liberal, these descriptions are obsolete in the face of the catastrophe that everybody’s really dealing with.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Originally posted January 25, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen & Greek Politics: The Regime of the Colonels 1967-1974

Greek Military Junta Of 1967–1974

After the April 21, 1967 Greek coup d’éta which signaled the start of the oppressive Regime of the Colonels, many foreigners, especially foreigners who were celebrities, who lived in or even visited Greece were criticized for implicitly supporting the military junta. Leonard Cohen was among those denounced because of his ownership of a home in Hydra.

From Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira Nadel:

At the 1970 Leonard Cohen Aix-en-Provence concert, some in the audience called Cohen a fascist, accusing him of condoning The Regime of the Colonels” in Greece because Cohen had lived and continued to own a residence on Hydra. Cohen’s reply follows:

I have not spent much time when The Colonels were there. Most of the time I spent there was in the 60’s, but I had friends there for it all, and I had a life. It is not a question of supporting the so and so or something like that!1

Earlier during the 1970 tour, however, at the May 12 Paris show, Cohen had included a “tribute to the opposition to the Greek colonels.” This excerpt is from Leonard Cohen Scores In Paris by Tim Creery (Montreal Gazette: May 14, 1970):

After the intermission he dedicated an anti-Nazi song aux etudiants assassines in the U.S. and the show ended with a tribute to the opposition to the Greek colonels.


  1. From Encyclopaedia Universalis – Leonard Cohen – Le Partisan via Google Translate []

Q: What is your political stance? Leonard Cohen: “Pure Survival”

What is your political stance?

It is a stance of pure survival. I believe that a human being must defend his beliefs against wind and tide. Whatever position he believes he has to adopt, he must do so. If you think you have to fight, you must, and if you think you should hide, do that. That is my political stance – a question of survivalquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

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

“A good song exists in very modest terms and also in Himalayan terms” Leonard Cohen

In “Everybody Knows,” there is a line that I found deeply moving, “Old Black Joe’s still picking cotton, for our buttons and our bows,” which seems to be a fairly heavy indictment of capitalism.

Whatever grip capitalism has on its constituents, it seems to be a more benign grip than any of the other systems that people have thought out. So I would resist, although not with a tremendous amount of interest in the matter, having it serve an anti-capitalist program. I think that a good song exists in very modest terms and also in Himalayan terms. I mean, it’s a thing to get you through the dishes. It provides a sound-track for your courting and for your solitude. That’s the modest element. Then there is an element in song which provides deep comfort and deep solace and stimulation for the imagination and courage. You can’t use it for something as deliberate as a program. It could be, but it falls away. A good song slips away from its dogma.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Leonard Cohen:  Several Lifetimes Already by Cindy Bisaillon (Shambhala Sun, Jan, 1994). Originally posted Dec 16, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on the “gap between… private life and the public expression”

There’s something in everybody that says. well the public life doesn’t represent me. And the public statements don’t represent me, and my life is not represented on television. My life is not represented in the politician’s plans. My life is not represented in the books and the songs. That there’s something, that there’s a big gap between my private life and the public expression. And I think we’re in one of those times now, that gap opens and closes.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns – Interview With Leonard Cohen Presented By John McKenna. RTE Ireland, May 9 & 12, 1988. Retrieved from LeonardCohenFiles. Photo “Leonard Cohen, 1988 01” by GorupdebesanezOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons. Originally posted Dec 1, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric