Interviewer: I asked [Leonard Cohen] if he felt fortunate to have achieved a modest rather than enormous level of fame.
Tremendously. It has none of the burdens of celebrity. It suits my nature. I never really wanted to be in the center of things, if there is such a place. Most singers feel that they’re not there, but I know I’m not there. I’ve been able to make a living and send my kids to school. It’s a very acceptable level of renown.
Angst & Aquavit by Brendan Bernhard. LA Weekly: September 26, 2001.
My life seems empty. I’m not saying this in any sense of despair. I mean the quality is empty. It doesn’t have many events, so the song has to come out of some other place. It’s not an event and it’s not a message, it’s another kind of colour.
From Behind The Enigma By Tony Wilson. New Musical Express: March 25, 1972. Photo by Lars Sandblom.
There was a time when I thought I could perhaps create myself an image, like a work of art. But I did not have the energy. One must be deeply motivated for this. Otherwise, the image tends to develop itself – it becomes a creation of journalists on one hand and the public on the other hand. It is usually caricatured and inaccurate. I guess it’s sometimes annoying, not because we do not find it flattering but because there’s this image of yourself that wanders through the world that seems so wrong. So sometimes we make the effort to try to correct it. But most often, in an interview for example, I am just talking about the whim of the moment and try to make it as pleasant as possible…
From a 1974 interview, “A Certain Smile” by Herve Muller (Google English translation of the original interview found at the French Leonard Cohen Site). Image atop post is the cover of the 1974 European Tour program contributed by Dominique BOILE, Originally posted July 11, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
His novel [The Favourite Game] was finished in the spring, and Cohen had a feeling of completion and ennui. He told Yafa Lerner:
Strange to find myself absolutely lustless. It makes me have to begin everything all over again, find a new structure to hang myself on. Lustless. It’s like a kind of amnesia. It leaves me with too much spare time and forces me into metaphysics. I never thought desire was so frail.
From Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira Nadel.That same source notes
In his late teens, Cohen began a series of significant relationships with women. Yafa (“Bunny”) Lerner was one of the first, a young woman from Montreal who was interested in dance.
Depression was a component of my life–the background, although not usually the content, of the work, and the engine of most of my investigation into the various things I looked into: wine, woman, song, religion. Just trying to get on top of it. Just trying to beat the Devil. I never knew what it was, because I had nothing to complain about, but still, there was this background of anguish that seemed to prevail. I tried all the anti-depressants, right up to Prozac; most of it made me feel worse. Nothing worked. And it lasted most of my life–until a couple of years ago, gradually this background of distress dissolved. I remember saying to myself one morning, ‘This must be how everybody feels. It’s good.’
From Songs Of Love, Not Hate by Sylvie Simmons. Yahoo! Music: Oct 8, 2001. Photo by Gabriel Jones.
A summary of Leonard Cohen’s depression, its treatment, and its disappearance is available at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution
The album [Ten New Songs] I think could be described as a duet. Personally, when I listen to my songs, I’m always more comfortable when my voice is surrounded by harmonies, which to me would naturally suggest the female voice. I never had much confidence in my voice. My son [Adam Cohen] sings beautifully, he has perfect pitch, but I’ve never really been able to hit a note right. For me, singing has always been a struggle. Sharon [Robinson], who is a very skillful musician, promised me she wouldn’t write any tunes with more than four or five notes.
From Songs Of Love, Not Hate by Sylvie Simmons. Yahoo! Music: Oct 8, 2001.
From Leonard Cohen: The bard on a wire by Jian Ghomeshi. Canwest News Service: April 15, 2009. Originally posted August 3, 2016 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.