By the time I finished my tour in 1993, I was in some condition of anguish that deepened and deepened. Prozac didn’t work. Paxil didn’t work. Zoloft didn’t work. Wellbutrin didn’t work. In fact, the only comic element in the whole thing was when I was taking Prozac, I came to believe that I had overcome my [sexual] desires. I didn’t know that it has that side effect. I thought it was a spiritual achievement.
From Leonard Cohen: Remembering the Life and Legacy of the Poet of Brokenness by Mikal Gilmore (Rolling Stone: 30 November 2016) Note: The entire article – an excellent read – is available at the link.
I couldn’t enter into the orthodox Jewish stream, the Hassidic dance – I tried, but it wasn’t really my own. I couldn’t really become a fighter in the Spanish Civil War, since it was over. I didn’t have the right accent or speak the kind of English my professors spoke. There was plenty of cafe culture in Montreal, but I wasn’t welcome there. It was mainly French and I spoke English. You had more prestige if you came from the wrong side of the tracks and I come from the right side. So I was always trying to find a cafe that was mine, a language and style that was mine, always looking for a homeland and a position – until it became clear to me that I had no position and that nobody else did either. They’d been swept away.
From Melancholy Baby by John Walsh. The Independent Magazine: May 8, 1993 Originally posted Jan 5, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Most of the things you do – poet, songwriter, novelist, singer – which do you prefer if you were going to be introduced as something?
… It’s hard to live by a name anyhow and whatever you created gets away from you anyhow and I’d just as soon be introduced as a vegetarian
Note: Leonard Cohen was a self-professed vegetarian for a few years in the 1960s. Information about this aspect of his life can be found at Was Leonard Cohen A Vegetarian?
The featured excerpt is from a CBC interview broadcast three weeks before his first album (Songs Of Leonard Cohen, released December 27, 1967). That selection was included in Inside the music – Various Positions:Leonard Cohen in His Own Words: Broadcast Jan 30, 2012. The photograph atop this post, taken by Bill Dampier, is credited to York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433, ASC26833. Originally posted March 17, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The Scene: It is early 1988. Leonard Cohen is being interviewed in the restaurant of a Covent Garden hotel. The interviewer reports “a tall man in a black suit suddenly approaches our table and hands Len a small black travel bag. Len lets out a huge sigh of relief. The man bows and disappears.”
[Interviewer:] What’s that then, Len?
[Leonard Cohen:] I left it in the car last night. It’s got everything. My tattoo.
[Interviewer:] You’ve got your tattoo in your bag?
[Leonard Cohen:] It’s one of those stick-on ones, a big snake, a present for my daughter. Here’s my airplane tickets. Cheque books. A picture of my girlfriend.
[Interviewer:] Can I have a gander, Len?
[Leonard Cohen:] Sure. I took it myself.
[Interviewer:] Very beautiful. What’s that bit of paper there?
[Leonard Cohen:] That’s my AIDS test result. Negative. It’s good to carry that around. ‘Hi, I’m Leonard, here’s my card!’ It’s like being let out of prison, getting one of those.
Source: Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabatoge Times. Posted Dec 3, 2015 (the excerpt itself is from a 1988 interview). The photo atop this post was taken on another occasion (Milan, 1989) by Guido Harari. This content was originally posted Dec 28, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.
I wrote a song a while back called ‘I Was Never Any Good at Loving You.’ And I think it’s true. I don’t think I came across as a particularly good lover. I’m much better at friendship. But I had a strong sexual drive that overpowered every other consideration. I had no idea who the people were that I was sleeping with. I mean, my appetite for intimacy – and not just physical intimacy but the intimacy that went with that activity – was so intense that I was just interested in the essence of those things. It was just an appetite. And consequently misunderstandings and suffering from both parties arose.
2001 interview from Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents by Mikal Gilmore (Free Press: July 14, 2009)