“I was never any good at that kind of hard work that’s involved with socializing.” Leonard Cohen

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I remember walking into a club called Max’s Kansas City that I’d heard was the place where everybody went — I didn’t know anybody in New York—and I remember lingering by the bar, I was never good at that kind of hard work that’s involved with socializing, and a young man came over to me and said, ‘You’re Leonard Cohen, you wrote Beautiful Losers,’ which nobody had read, it only sold a few copies in America. And it was Lou Reed. He brought me over to a table full of luminaries – Andy Warhol, Nico. I was suddenly sitting at this table with the great spirits of the time.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

DrHGuy Note: While this is an account of Leonard Cohen meeting Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, and Nico in 1966, I’m most taken with Leonard comment on his own difficulties with “socializing.”

Quotation from I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Ecco: 2012. Photo by Eugene McLaughlin.

“One of the downsides of growing old is that you have to surrender your vices one by one. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t court women. So I have a lot of free time. I keep scratching away, blackening pages. Writing is my friend.” Leonard Cohen (2014)

Leonard Cohen Can’t Slow Down by Gavin Edwards. Rolling Stone (India): October 24, 2014. Photo by Dominique BOILE (10 Exclusive Photos: Leonard Cohen At His Paris Hotel 3 Days Before Start Of 2013 European Tour)

Note: Originally posted Nov 6, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Singing His Own Songs – 1988: “There are some songs I just can’t get behind” 2009: “I’m feeling much friendlier to my earliest work”

1988: “There are some songs I just can’t get behind.”

Do you always know what your songs are about?

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There’s a lot of songs that lose their meaning, you forget. I’m finding that out now, rehearsing the band. There are some songs I just can’t get behind. Some are surprising me, songs I really thought I could sing, like ‘Bird On a Wire.’ I’m not sure it’s necessary to say, ‘I swear by this song and by all I’ve done wrong that I will make it all up to thee.’ Either I’ve done that, or there’s no point in making that promise again if I haven’t. It’s very hard to get behind certain lines. The new songs I’m not having any trouble with.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988.

 

2009: “I’m feeling much friendlier to my earliest work than I ever did.”

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I find I’m feeling much friendlier to my earliest work than I ever did. There was a certain time when I knew that the audience wanted to hear ‘Suzanne’ and ‘Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,’ but I didn’t want to play [them]. Now I really do.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen reborn in the U.S.A. by Geoff Boucher at Pop & Hiss, the L.A. Times music blog: February 27, 2009.

Leonard Cohen Explains Why His Hair Is Close-Cropped On The Live Songs Cover

 

Why the hell did you shave off all your hair for the “Live” LP album?

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Life just got to be too much for me at that time. I just couldn’t handle anything at all – so I went to a monastery to live. And I guess I just went over the wall.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Life On The Ledge With Leonard Cohen by Jon Marlowe. The Miami News: Nov 9, 1977.

“What is a saint?” Three Observations On Saintliness By Leonard Cohen

Yesterday’s post, New York Times Rhetorically Asks “Is Leonard Cohen the New Secular Saint of Montreal?”, calls to mind Leonard Cohen’s thoughts on saintliness.

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What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is a caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape.1quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

fedoradivider

Do you consider yourself either religious or mystical?

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I think I went through a saintly phase where I was consciously trying to model myself on what I thought a saint was. I made a lot of people very unhappy and I made myself very unhappy.2quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


fedoradivider
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When there’s a complete wipe-out, there’s a renewal. In that book [Beautiful Losers] I tried to wrestle with all the deities that are extant now – the idea of saintliness, purity, pop, McLuhanism, evil, the irrational – all the gods we set up for ourselves.3quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

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  1. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen []
  2. An Interview with Leonard Cohen conducted by Michael Harris. Duel, Winter 1969. []
  3. Leonard Cohen quoted in “After the Wipe-Out, A Renewal” by Sandra Diwa, published in The Ubyssey (the student newspaper of the University of British Columbia), February 3, 1967. []

“I’ve always had this very scroogie point of view…” Leonard Cohen

sanseb

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I’ve always had this very scroogie point of view. When people demonstrate against nuclear weapons, I think, ‘These people think that if they eliminate nuclear weapons, they eliminate death.’ It promotes something like ‘eternal peace.’ But we’re not going to live forever; maybe I think, basically, that nothing really changes. I’m not attached to that opinion, though. I don’t even care if it’s true. When you’re banging your head against the dirty carpet of the Royalton Hotel trying to find the rhyme for ‘orange,’ you don’t care about these things.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988