From Leonard Cohen: Love’s Hard Man by Alan Franks (Article first appeared in The Times Magazine on 13 October 2001). Originally posted July 27, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Does Cohen try to try to write from a point which is neither masculine nor feminine, yet is both?
Well, you’ve got to move between these two points and take the residue of each point back to the others. If you never experience yourself as neither man nor woman or, for that matter, as neither fish nor any form of creature, then eventually you are going to get bored being just a man. When you jump into a pool of water you don’t hit that water as a man or a woman you hit it as shock; that is the central reality I was talking about back then
From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016). Photo by Gorupdebesanez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Suffering has led me to wherever I am. Suffering has made me rebel against my own weakness; suffering makes you strong. Now, in the midst of my suffering, I refuse to suffer. It’s there, but I refuse to suffer… Sex used to be the only thing that relieved suffering for me. I still like women and sex but for different reasons now. It’s wrong to feel sorry for people. It just confirms them in their suffering. It makes it an end in itself. Suffering is really the way you learn what not to do This thing I want to do in the world relieves suffering.
Leonard Cohen Wants the Unconditional Leadership of the World by Susan Lumsden (Weekend Magazine: Sept 12, 1970). Photo Credit: Peter Brosseau/Library and Archives Canada/PA-170174.
I have always interpreted your songs in a pained expressions of loneliness. Do you still feel this kind of pain even though you have found consolation and warmth in Suzanne and your children?
I think marriage can also create real loneliness. When you get married and live with your wife, you begin to realize that there is no kind of comfort or compensation for inner loneliness; not in marriage, not in friendships, not in money – nowhere. You can look for comfort only on your own and for yourself, and only then will you realize what your real turmoil is. And once you have gone through all this, it should comfort you and make you less lonely and depressed. But then you realize that the same feeling is still there – there is no escape from loneliness, except in yourself. You can cling to each other and get a lot of strength and comfort, but it will not release you from the pain forever.
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.
Have women lost the need for love (romantic or otherwise) from men?
The evidence is that it hasn’t worked out well between men and women, but nobody can penetrate the need. That’s why I write ‘There Ain’t No Cure For Love.’ Nobody can tolerate the ache of separation, nobody can tolerate the vertigo of surrender. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to abandon the whole deal. We’re not going to. Everybody makes a continuing negotiation for a changing deal with love, because we need it so much. A deal with our children, mates, lovers, parents. As men and women.
From Read Leonard Cohen’s exclusive interview with Hot Press from 1988 by Joe Jackson (Hot Press: 11 Nov 2016)
From He Has Tried in His Way to Be Free by Sarah Hampson (Lion’s Roar: Nov 1, 2007). Photo by Dominique BOILE.
From Leonard Cohen by Ray Connolly. Evening Standard, July 1968. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
From the Dan Cairns – Sunday Times Culture questionnaire Leonard Cohen sent me Oct 17, 2016. Some of that questionnaire was incorporated into Leonard Cohen: Hey, that’s some way to say goodbye by Dan Cairns (The Sunday Times: October 23 2016); this specific question and answer was not used.