From I Never Discuss My Mistresses Or My Tailors by Nick Paton Walsh. The Observer, October 14, 2001
I don’t want to get into performing too much because I’ve always seen song and poetry as the evidence of the life rather than the life itself, the picture of life is straight and if you really are experiencing things then this work is the evidence of that experience. If your experience only becomes putting out for the public, and we are all whores in a certain level because we’re out there every night like the entertainer, but for me I couldn’t live that life totally because I know it would dry things up.
From The Sounds Interview 1971 by Billy Walker. Sounds: October 23, 1971. The image atop this post is the back cover of Flowers for Hitler by Leonard Cohen Jonathan Cape (UK): 1973. Photo by Sophie Baker. Originally posted June 14, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The reason I’ve stayed away from it [other people’s materials] mostly is because I started writing my own songs because I couldn’t really learn the tunes of other songs. I would love to and if I could really sing well I’d sing everybody’s songs but I feel if I sing my own songs nobody can complain. I think if you sing your own songs you can really embody the vision in the song but I wouldn’t like to try it with ‘0 Sole Mio’.
From The Sounds Interview 1971 by Billy Walker. Sounds: October 23, 1971. Photo Credit: Peter Brosseau/Library and Archives Canada/PA-170174. Note: Originally posted June 13, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
From Leonard Cohen Highlights His Latest, ‘I’m Your Man’ by Tom Moon. Philadelphia Inquirer: November 4, 1988. Originally posted Aug 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
I never had the luxury of standing in front of a buffet table saying, ‘I’ll write this kind of song today and that kind tomorrow.’ It was like: ‘Can I scrape some words together and write anything? . . . Can I dig deep enough inside to say something that matters?’
From “Robert Hilburn Interviews Leonard Cohen” by Robert Hilburn (Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1995). Photo of Leonard Cohen by Pete Purnell. Originally posted July 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Leonard Cohen – Los Angeles 1992 from Songwriters On Songwriting By Paul Zollo. Found at LeonardCohenFiles. Originally posted Dec 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
What about your writing, when did it start?
Well, I do remember sitting down at a card table on a sun porch one day when I decided to quit a job. I was working in a brass foundry at the time and one morning I thought, I just can’t take this anymore, and I went out to the sun porch and I started a poem. I had a marvelous sense of mastery and power, and freedom, and strength, when I was writing this poem. I haven’t had that feeling too often since. As a matter of fact, now when I write what turns out to be a poem, or what other people call a poem, it’s because I can’t say anything. It’s because I have to struggle with coherency in its most elementary state so that the kind of things that are in the last poems of my anthology are just one degree over, or one degree on the side of coherence. If you just took that degree away I would be left in a…I would be disintegrated. In other words, I want my poems to be, I don’t even think of them as poems, when I wrote those things they were techniques to get myself together. But I found I can’t use any ornaments, I can’t use tricks.
An Interview with Leonard Cohen by Michael Harris. Duel: Winter 1969.
I don’t think too much about the words because I know that the words are completely empty and any emotion can be poured into them. Almost all my songs can be sung any way. They can be sung as tough songs or as gentle songs or as contemplative songs or as courting songs.