“[Songwriting] often is a young man’s game… But there are some old guys who hang in there and come up with some very interesting work.” Leonard Cohen

There aren’t many songwriters of your generation who have been able to maintain the quality of their past work the way you have been able to.

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… There is a certain age that is appropriate to this tremendous expenditure of energy and the tremendous bravery and courage that you need to go into the fray. It often is a young man’s game, or as Browning said, ‘The first fine careless frenzy.’ That is what the lyric poem is based on, the song is based on. But there are some old guys who hang in there and come up with some very interesting work.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From a 1992 interview with Leonard Cohen published in Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo. Da Capo Press: 1997. Photo by Dominique Issermann.

The Browning line quoted as “First fine careless frenzy” is actually “The first fine careless rapture” from Home Thoughts From Abroad, by Robert Browning.

That ‘s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture!

“Only the blessing you have given to [words], the way you present them, what they contain, makes them significant.” Leonard Cohen

Does this mean that the words are empty without the emotional content (which you can transmit during the song, but not in the printed poem)?

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Words are important, and they have to be carefully selected if it is your job. You should pay close attention to them, but on the other hand, only the blessing you have given to them, the way you present them, what they contain, makes them significant… It’s like launching a ship. It can just as well be a fishing boat, they do not all have to be ocean vessels. I am thinking about how the village priest blesses the fishermen prior to sailing. I have to have the same respect in my poems. I must plea to some higher power. Everything has to be considered, whether people want to weep or laugh. Whatever you write, you drop into the sea of ​​mankind and it is to be honored with pure respect.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From ”En tunne vanhenevani lainkaan” – Leonard Cohen Soundissa 1976: The 2016 reprint of a June 1976 Leonard Cohen interview by Dougie Gordon. (Soundi: Nov 11, 2016). Via computer translation. Photo by Martin Colyer.

“If you look at that Sermon on the Mount, no-one has really carried that out… ‘Blessed are the poor, the downtrodden…’ I tried to say that, ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.'” Leonard Cohen

From Interview With Leonard Cohen. France- Inter, October 6, 1997.Transcription Of The Radio Program Synergie With Jean-Luc Esse And Leonard Cohen. Translated From French By Nick Halliwell, UK. Found at LeonardCohenFiles.

“I’m very slow…” Leonard Cohen Talks About His Songwriting

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I’m very slow [writing songs]. It comes kind of by dribbles and drops. Some people are graced with a flow; some people are graced with something less than a flow. I’m one of those … The fact that my songs take a long time to write is no guarantee of their excellence.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen Corrects Himself: ‘I Intend to Stick Around Until 120’ by Chris Willman (Billboard: Oct 14, 2016). Originally posted Oct 15, 2016 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The writer is ambivalent by nature. That’s who we are… Our interest in things was never real. It wasn’t genuine, or wholehearted. We were mostly interested in life as material for the line, the verse, the story.” Leonard Cohen

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The writer is ambivalent by nature. That’s who we are… We’re ambivalent about everything… Our interest in things was never real. It wasn’t genuine, or wholehearted. We were mostly interested in life as material for the line, the verse, the story. Unfortunately, that didn’t keep us from running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to feel a little better, looking for a buzz. Anything to escape the anguish.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Matters Of Vital Interest by Eric Lerner. A review of this book can be found at The Leonard Cohen Tell All Koan – Matters Of Vital Interest By Eric Lerner. Photo by Eric Lerner.