“I’ve had people tell me that my records have made their lives not worth living.” Leonard Cohen

“We knew you could do it, Lenny”

A few weeks ago Cohen received in the mail a newspaper clipping from a South African newspaper, a story about a surgeon named Leonard Cohen who specializes in restoring severed limbs. Scrawled across the sheet was an inscription: “We knew you could do it, Lenny.”

Cohen told me about it in a bar several nights before, and we are laughing about it again. “You know,” I say, “you bring it on yourself, Leonard.”

“Yeah,” he says with a smile. “Yeah, I guess I do.”

Cohen relishes and takes with good humour the bleak proportions of his artistic persona – “I’ve had people tell me that my records have made their lives not worth living.”

From Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin. Canadian Forum: August/September 1983. Photo by Armando Fusco. Originally posted June 11, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I feel a sense of gratitude that people have come [to my concert] and have bought tickets and are in front of me. And I think my natural sense of courtesy compels me to do the best job that I can.” Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen interviewed by Hans Pfitzinger in Paris, 1988. The image is a screen capture from video by Wayne Weber. Originally posted Nov 5, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s Concerns About Whether Or Not He Has A Cruel Streak

Q: Is there one piece of criticism that sticks in your mind?
Leonard Cohen: The only criticism that has stuck in my mind is that somebody once said to me that I had a cruel streak. Maybe that is too honest for this article. But that stayed with me, the possibility that I enjoyed and took pleasure in the discomfort of another’s distress.

Q: What is your greatest fear?
Leonard Cohen: That I have a cruel streak.

Q: What is your most unpleasant characteristic?
Leonard Cohen: I really don’t think I have a cruel streak.

From “Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen” in Q Magazine, September 1994. Photos by Gabriel JonesOriginally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Q: Has anything happened that changed you into a happier person? Leonard Cohen: “Yes, my life collapsed”

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Leonard Cohen interviewed by Hans Pfitzinger in Paris, 1988. Photo taken at the 1988 Binéfar show by Herminia Sirvent. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“To me, the sight of a naked woman in statuary – or not naked at all – or the movement of one’s sister or daughters, well, I’m sorry, but I haven’t been able to extricate myself from this human merry-go-round.” Leonard Cohen (1993)

For some years Cohen has been saddled, poor fellow, with a reputation as a compulsive womaniser (putting out an album called ‘Death of a Ladies’ Man’ didn’t really help). Much has been made of his current affair with the Hollywood actress Rebecca de Mornay, who played the billhook-wielding nanny in ‘The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.’ I commented that he never seemed to lose a sense of wonder at the prospect of the undraped female form. Was it because he is an incorrigible old rogue, or something more elevated?

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But that’s very elevated. What Yeats said about ‘a foolish passion in an old man,’ that’s not a bad calling. To stay alive in the heart and the spine and the genitals, to be sensitive to these delicious movements, is not a bad way to go. To me, the sight of a naked woman in statuary – or not naked at all – or the movement of one’s sister or daughters, well, I’m sorry, but I haven’t been able to extricate myself from this human merry-go-round.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993. Image is a screen capture from a 1993 Helsinki interview. Originally posted Jan 9, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

“You get a fantastic singlemindedness when you are lying in one place hallucinating. For me, it ended a lot of things. I would like to say that it made me saintly.” Leonard Cohen 1966

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It seems that because [Leonard Cohen] went on a fast during the late summer of 1965 he developed a theory that almost everybody went through some kind of personal crisis around that time and that the world entered some mad new age. Cohen fasted for 12 days in his little white house on the Greek island of Hydra, where he lived for six years, returning to Canada only, as he put it, to renew his neurotic affiliation. The fast occurred after he had finished his critically acclaimed, bestselling and extremely dirty novel. Beautiful Losers. Cohen wasn’t hungry. so he decided to fast. “Finally I just flipped out,” he says. He hallucinated and got a temperature of 104. They had to give him protein injections intravenously. He stayed in bed for two months. Marianna looked after him. ”I think there are certain times in your life when, if you don’t stop, things just stop for you. You get a fantastic single-mindedness when you are lying in one place hallucinating. For me, it ended a lot of things. I would like to say that it made me saintly.”

From Is the World (or Anybody) Ready for Leonard Cohen? by Jon Ruddy. Maclean’s: October 1, 1966.

Leonard Cohen Talks About The Meaning Of “My Dick Is The Horse And My Life Is The Cart…” & Why He Rewrote Those Lines

Stina Lundberg: In the Book of Longing there is a long poem, and I probably don’t remember the lines right, but it is something like “My dick is the horse and my life is the chart…”

Leonard Cohen: Is the cart.

Stina Lundberg: Is the cart, sorry.

Leonard Cohen: Yeah, very vulgar line, I wish I hadn’t written it. In fact I changed it.

Stina Lundberg: To what?

Leonard Cohen: I don’t remember… what I changed it to now, because, er… I had a growing sense of dissatisfaction with that poem. I must remove it from the site (chuckles) or at least it needs more work. It came out of a time when I’d just come down from Mount Baldy and I was writing very, very quickly and with a great sense of, a kind of wild sense of freedom from the schedule, and I was blackening a lot of pages and sending them off to the website, and that’s one I have to look at.

Stina Lundberg: Why? It’s very direct.

Leonard Cohen: It’s very direct but I think the language – it could be… it could be as direct… a little bit more musical. Try for a different music.

Stina Lundberg: But what did it mean? What is the content?

Leonard Cohen: I think the content is that, you know, that’s where a man’s brain is. And you know, when I watch the young, as I do because I have two young – they’re not children, they’re young adults – I remember going to a party that my son invited me to, and I sat there just thanking my lucky stars that I wasn’t 25, because I saw this… the level of suffering at one of these events was overwhelming, you know, the mutual displays of attraction, the effort that had gone into each personal presentation, the expectations, the disappointments… it seemed to be one of the circles of hell that I was pleased not to be in.

From 2001 Leonard Cohen interview with Stina Lundberg. Originally posted May 12, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

DrHGuy Note:

The verse to which Stina refers follows:

I followed the course
from chaos to art
My dick was the horse
my life was the cart

Accessed at Book Of Longing – LeonardCohenFiles

In the Book Of Longing published in 2006, that verse reads

I followed the course
From chaos to art
Desire the horse
Depression the cart