“I know that unless I can get straight with myself no enterprise is going to be very meaningful. I think a lot of people are going to discover that too.” Leonard Cohen On Unemployment And Jobs In Art & Revolution


quoteup2
I went [to Columbia University] with the idea of doing something because I had this continual sense of unemployment. I was maybe twenty-one or twenty-two at the time. I thought I’d better start taking things seriously, you know, you’re twenty-two and you’re not doing anything, what are you going to do in this world? And so in some corner of my mind I thought, well, post graduate studies in English. But I couldn’t make that for more than two or three weeks. I mean, I always had this sense of unemployment; I think that’s what our disease is. That somehow some of the most imaginative people in our society are unemployed. That’s bad. Now, I mean, unemployed both in the strict sense and in some more symbolic sense. We just are not working at our full capacity. And some people feel, you know, we have to tear the whole thing down and begin it again, that, in a sense is a kind of employment. I think that idea is very inviting to unemployed people; it really is a job. Revolution will employ a lot of people. It won’t employ me, unfortunately. I would love to be employed by it. I think that as one of the alternatives open to young men and women today, revolution is an excellent job. And an excellent discipline, excellent training. But it’s not for me. I’ve gone into it in some ways. I even went down to fight in Cuba. I think I explored it to my own satisfaction. I know that unless I can get straight with myself no enterprise is going to be very meaningful. I think a lot of people are going to discover that too. A very good friend of mine who wanted to be a writer and who found that he had made a mistake and he didn’t really want to be a writer, is a gardener now and very happy. I think a lot of people who simply couldn’t make it in the society as we see it now, turned to art first. And it’s still happening in this present generation. A lot of people who look at the world as they see it and look at the jobs that are offered them, simply can’t imagine themselves doing any of those things and because there aren’t many alternatives, they turn to art. They see in art the freedom and the kind of life they would like to lead, that organized society doesn’t present. But there are very few people who really have the aptitude for art. A lot of people would be a lot happier as gardeners and carpenters and cabinet makers, and I think I might be one of them. It’s certainly on my list of the things that I’m going to try. I feel a lot closer to that now, than I ever did. I hardly pay attention to what we call art. I don’t read poetry and I don’t think of myself as an artist. I’m looking around for a job. I thought it might be as a singer.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Michael Harris. Duel: Winter 1969. Photo from York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, Photographer: John Sharp, Identifier: ASC01709.

“I tried to stop, but my relationship with writing is like that of a bear running into a hive – he can’t resist the temptation to steal honey…” Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
I tried to stop, but my relationship with writing is like that of a bear running into a hive — he can’t resist the temptation to steal honey. It happens continually. It’s delightful and it’s horrible, but, although I’m clumsy and aching, I’m up to my neck in it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Virtueless Monk by Elena Comelli (La Nazione, Florence, November 25, 1998. Translated by Andrea Della Rossa) Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles. The image atop this post is the back cover of Flowers for Hitler by Leonard Cohen. Photo by Sophie Baker (Jonathan Cape: 1973)Originally posted October 5, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Miracle Of The Storks: Leonard Cohen Talks About His Breakdown & Recovery After Writing Beautiful Losers

quoteup2
I had a pretty rough time with Beautiful Losers, but I didn’t know it. I broke down after it was over… When I finished Beautiful Losers I was living on Hydra. I went to another island and when I wanted to come back I hired a boatman to get me to another, bigger boat that was headed that way. It was about 110 degrees, very hot sun. The fisherman said to me, ‘You’d better come in under the tarp.’ I said no. He said, ‘Sea Wolf, huh?’ When I got back to Hydra I couldn’t get up the stairs to my house. They got a donkey and took me up. I went to bed and I couldn’t eat for 10 or 15 days. They finally called a doctor and I was hallucinating and going crazy and went down to 116 pounds and, you know, a breakdown of some kind. But that seemed right: I’d been working pretty hard and taking speed. I’d had a sunstroke, obviously. And I’d just finished this book. The day the storks came to the island was the day I recovered. They stop over and land on their way to Africa, or maybe coming back from Africa; they nest on the highest buildings, which are usually churches. So there’s a curious feeling; they come in and sit on the churches and leave the next morning. They just spend one night. And the morning they left I recovered, I stood up and I addressed the people of my family and it was a miracle. The miracle of the storks. [laughter] quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988. Photo by Iglesia_de_San_Isidoro._Cigüeñas_en_el_campanario.jpg: Mr. Ticklederivative work: Snowmanradio (talk) – Iglesia_de_San_Isidoro._Cigüeñas_en_el_campanario.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

“I couldn’t get a date… I think it’s always like that. It’s never delivered to you.” Leonard Cohen On His Reputation As A 1960s “Intellectual Sex Symbol”

quoteup2
It’s so curious because I couldn’t get a date. I couldn’t find anybody to have dinner with. By the time that first record came out, which rescued me, I was already in such a shattered situation that I found myself living at the Henry Hudson Hotel on West 57th Street, going to the Morningstar Cafe on 8th Ave, trying to find some way to approach the waitress and ask her out. I would get letters of longing from around the world, and I would find myself walking the streets of New York at three in the morning, trying to strike up conversations with the women selling cigarettes in hotels. I think it’s always like that. It’s never delivered to you.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Loneliness of The Long-Suffering Folkie By Wayne Robins (Newsday – Long Island, November 22, 1992.).  Originally posted Sep 5, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Some of the songs [on Popular Problems] came together with shockingly alarming speed. But usually I take a long, long time − partly because of addiction to perfection, partly just sheer laziness.” Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
It’s taken this long for (‘A Street’) to find that path of expression. On the other hand, songs like ‘You Got Me Singing’ and ‘Did I Ever Love You,’ those were written very quickly. Some of the songs came together with shockingly alarming speed. But usually I take a long, long time − partly because of addiction to perfection, partly just sheer laziness.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen on the Inner Workings of His New Album ‘Popular Problems’ by Todd Aaron Jensen. Bio: Dec 1, 2014.

“I feel myself a very minor writer… I’ve taken a certain territory… and I’ve tried to maintain it and administrate it with the very best of my capacities” Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
I feel myself a very minor writer. You know, I’ve taken a certain territory, and I’ve occupied it, and I’ve tried to maintain it and administrate it with the very best of my capacities. And I will continue to administrate this tiny territory until I’m too weak to do it. But I understand where this territory is.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From the transcript of a BBC Radio 1 programme about Leonard Cohen, broadcast Sunday 7/8/94. Originally posted Oct 23, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Hear Leonard Cohen Comment On “Have I myself been commercialized?”

imgLC012_bewerkt-1_1024x683

quoteup2
Each person here at this table is a victim of the commercialization of life. I’m sure I haven’t escaped. But I can say one thing – I have been tempted by the money. I have been tempted by the glory. I don’t think there is any man that can escape those temptations. But I feel that I have not put out any songs that were designed to exploit the commercial market.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen Interview, Vienna 1976

Credit Due Department: Photo by Pete Purnell.

Note: Originally posted August 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I used [my guitar] as a courting procedure. Probably I got down on my knees to serenade a girl. I was shameless in those days.” Leonard Cohen 1966

Is the World (or Anybody) Ready for Leonard Cohen? by Jon Ruddy. Maclean’s: October 1, 1966. Photo Credit: Henry Sotheran Ltd. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric