“I try to live simply, but it’s not a virtue, it’s my pleasure not to have too many things. Because if you have a lot of things, you have to take care of it and I do not like that… Living simply is a great luxury.” Leonard Cohen

Do you feel that it is a luxury to live in your own way, detached from material things?

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I am not detached from material worries, nobody can be. I have a family to support, I have friends, I have keyboards that are expensive, I have to pay the rental of my car. I am not at all detached from material things. They do not obsess me. I try to live simply, but it’s not a virtue, it’s my pleasure not to have too many things. Because if you have a lot of things, you have to take care of it and I do not like that. So I like to have as little as possible, I already have too many things here. Living simply is a great luxury.  It’s true it takes a lot of money for that. You know, my last album sold well, but the previous ones were not selling, I always had to fight, always had financial concerns. But I had a very privileged life, I was very lucky, I do not deny it. I was able to do my job and get paid for it. It is a great luxury. I can not complain about being able to lead the life that is mine. I see that there are people who work so hard, people who work in mines in Bolivia and are not as well paid as me. I work as many hours as they do but I am much better paid. In our society, people are not encouraged to work so hard. I would really rather not work that way.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Les Inrocks: Aug 21, 1991). Via Google Translate.

“If a man doesn’t have a standard of excellence his work becomes meaningless” Leonard Cohen

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I think one of the things has wiped so many people out who do other kinds of work, like factory work, is that they’re not involved in the perfection, they don’t have a standard of excellence and I think if a man doesn’t have a standard of excellence his work becomes meaningless.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Sounds Interview 1971 by Billy Walker. Sounds: October 23, 1971. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles. Originally posted June 12, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“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


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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 know the hustler position is very popular today: Get by with as little work as possible. I’m not going to dispute that — maybe it works. It never worked for me, and I think it’s a venomous philosophy.” Leonard Cohen

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I know the hustler position is very popular today: Get by with as little work as possible. I’m not going to dispute that — maybe it works. It never worked for me, and I think it’s a venomous philosophy. I’m very well rewarded for my work, and I have no complaints about anything to do with my career. But it’s hard work, and I want it to remain hard work, and that’s the way it is.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Cohen Grows Into The Future Gracefully, And With A Grin By Peter Howell (Toronto Star, November 19, 1992). Note: Originally posted December 16, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Q: Your new record…was such a wonderful surprise for us all. When was it that you first felt you needed to put some more music into your life? Was this moment related to something particular? Leonard Cohen: “Nothing particular. Just the job.”

DrHGuy Note: The “new record” was Ten New Songs .

From October 16, 2001 Online Web Chat

“It’s essential that a man makes a living, and I always like to get paid for what I do, but I don’t like to do it for pay.” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen By Pat Harbron. Beetle: December 1973. Photo taken by Sam Tata in Montreal, 1973 – from Library and Archives Canada. Originally posted Jan 10, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The background from which I come doesn’t let family slide no matter how flipped out you are.” Leonard Cohen

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I came from a tradition in which family is very important, and I try to be the best father I can. It wasn’t merely a philosophical choice that I go to work every day: I had to make a buck over the years. The background from which I come doesn’t let family slide no matter how flipped out you are.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Photo: From left – Adam Cohen, his mother Suzanne Elrod, his father Leonard Cohen & Leonard’s mother Masha Cohen (Montreal 1972) . Posted Feb 13, 2014 by Adam Cohen at Leonard Cohen Facebook page

Quotation from Maverick Spirit: Leonard Cohen by Jim O’Brien. B-Side Magazine: August/September 1993. Originally posted Dec 30, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“My only success is the fact that I’ve been able to get to the desk.” Leonard Cohen

ctvep

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I think that the content of that work at the moment of arrival at the page is exactly the strategy that allows you to get there. Because getting there is the trick, getting there is the trouble. But once you get there, once your life is organised so beautifully so that there is a table, a chair, a typewriter, that is an incredible triumph. Most people give up … My mind is not particularly fertile. My only success is the fact that I’ve been able to get to the desk. My whole life has been trying to arrange those moments when I take care of everything that is not in the room, and have the moment to arrive. And usually what I am writing about is everything I’ve had to do to get to the moment of writing at the desk.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

June 22, 2006 Leonard Cohen interview by Michael Silverblatt on KCRW Bookworm. Description of interview from KCRW website:

Leonard Cohen talks about his early years as a poet in Montreal; his novel, Beautiful Losers; his songs; and now, ten years since his last book and fifty years since his first, the vicissitudes and recoveries that led to the art, lyrics and poems in his new Book of Longing.

Listen to or download the entire interview at KCRW Bookworm.

Originally posted Nov 3, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric