“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.

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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”


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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

“This is a quarrel between brothers… That has to be reconciled, in a much more imaginative way that either is approaching it today” Leonard Cohen On The Arab–Israeli Conflict (1988)

Cohen once said, “In any crisis in Israel I would be there.” Is that still true?

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Well, a saying I now have is ‘I can’t stand idly by my brother’s blood.’ It’s not political as such but my feelings about this whole thing, if anybody really has the time or interest in what I think about the thing, is there in Book Of Mercy. And it’s in prayer… ‘Israel, and you who call yourself Israel, and every nation chosen to be a nation, none of these lands is yours, all of you are thieves of holiness, all of you are at war with mercy… has Mercy made you wise? Will Ishmael declare, we are in debt forever? Therefore the lands belong to none of you, the borders do not hold. The law will never serve the lawless…’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

And yet, irrespective of how timeless one hopes prayer or poetry can be, that book was published in 1984. Has Cohen’s perspective been in any way altered by what is happening in Israel today?

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I feel the same. These are brothers. This is Ishmael and Israel. This is a quarrel between brothers, these are two peoples who have legitimate right to the same piece of land. That has to be reconciled, in a much more imaginative way that either is approaching it todayquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)

The Scorpion & The Camel: Leonard Cohen’s Story Of The Middle East

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Well, I’m gonna tell you a little story I just heard. There was this scorpion that was trying to get across the stream. He was too small to get across and he came to a camel and said ‘Will you carry me across the stream?’ The camel said, ‘Of course I’m not going to carry you across the stream. You’re a scorpion and you’re gonna sting me.’ Well, after many hours of persuasion, the camel was finally convinced to take the scorpion across the stream. Midway across the stream, the scorpion stung the camel. They’re both going down. They’re both being swept away and the camel says, ‘Why did you sting me?’ and the scorpion says, ‘Because this is the Middle East.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – from “Songs and Thoughts of Leonard Cohen” by Robert O’Brian (RockBill, September 1987). Map By TownDown – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons. Originally posted September 20, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[Democracy is] reduced to the real basic, unsplittable atom, which is the individual in whatever condition he is, wheezing, broken, sick, or triumphant, saying ‘Me too. This depends on me.'” Leonard Cohen

From Party Time? Leonard Cohen Gets Caught with a Cockeyed Grin by Charles Taylor (Boston Phoenix: November 27, 1992), Originally posted November 4, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric