Leonard Cohen Differentiates Between Songs and Poems

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There is a form of expression I call verse, which I do on the page, and it bears no relationship to my guitar. There’s another form that I call song, that I write on the guitar because the words are usually suggested by a modulation of chords.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen: Thoughts Of A Ladies’ Man by Elizabeth M. Thomson. 1979 interview reposted to FolkTracks: Jan 12, 2017.  The illustrative photo atop this post was taken by Sam Gray at the Sept 10, 1974 Leonard Cohen Edinburgh show and is posted with his permission. All images provided by Sam Gray are copyrighted by Sam Gray with all rights reserved.

“People say my vision of the future is bleak. The future is here. I think the landscape that I describe in all the songs is here.” Leonard Cohen (1993)

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People say my vision of the future is bleak. The future is here. I think the landscape that I describe in all the songs is here. It is that landscape which provokes these cries. Those are not my personal politics, these are the kinds of cries that arise in response to the catastrophe in which we find ourselves. Human beings have always found themselves in a catastrophe. The human predicament is catastrophic, but these are the cries: ‘Give me back the Berlin Wall, give me Stalin and St. Paul…lie beside me baby, that’s an order’. This is the mind shattered by the predicament. So that mind which says ‘give me crack and anal sex’, also says ‘I’ll be loving you always’. In other words, all kinds of expression, irresponsible, shattered, broken, fragmented, passionate, indifferent; all these cries arise from this shattered heart, that is the heart that I confess I have, and in bars, guys occasionally confess they have.
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Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen…What’s Your Problem? Doom and Gloom by Patrick Humphries (Vox: February, 1993),

“My brain, when I write, is completely confused. It struggles at the bottom of a well, trying to find something that will give the song permanence in this world.” Leonard Cohen

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My brain, when I write, is completely confused. It struggles at the bottom of a well, trying to find something that will give the song permanence in this world. To bring a song into existence seems difficult. Most successes, however, are simple. But I have not found a simple way to do things. I keep searching. Just because something takes a lot of time does not mean that it is not urgent, it is urgent every minute. That’s why this situation is impossible.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Throat Culture magazine, 1992). Originally posted Jan 4, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“There is some interest in survival” Leonard Cohen Explains Audience’s Fervent Response To His Songs (1975)

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People are interested not just in my experience but in the experience of anybody who has come through without committing suicide or going into a loony bin. You know, there is some interest in survival.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen explaining his enthusiastic reception from Bottom Line audience in 1975. From Rolling Stone: Leonard Cohen by Larry Sloman, The Sunday Citizen: May 25, 1975. Photo by  Pete Purnell. Originally posted Dec 18, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I have always felt that the nature of song was a movement from lip to lip…It’s somehow built into the design of a song, the fact that it moves around. And if it doesn’t, then it isn’t really that thing that we call a song.” Leonard Cohen


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I guess there are some people who could just write a song for somebody else and let it go at that, but I have always felt that the nature of song was a movement from lip to lip. That’s the nature of the thing. It’s somehow built into the design of a song, the fact that it moves around. And if it doesn’t, then it isn’t really that thing that we call a song. It could be something else pretty excellent, it could be a poem designed to stand on a page or an esoteric document or a kind of a paradox that could exist on parchment, but you know, a song, its nature is that it moves.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Cohen Down The Road By Karl Dallas, Melody Maker, May 22, 1976. Found at Reality Now!