When you’re writing a song, are you aware that you’re tapping into something that you may not have a conscious handle on?
Well, I think that sometimes when you’re in ninth gear or when you’re really skiing down the slope – you’re right on top of the snow, you don’t want to go any deeper. As someone said, you learn to stop bravely at the surface. If you hear something that really resonates, you just fold your hands in gratitude and try to incorporate it into the song. Sometimes those obscurities are just bullshit and they have to be excised; they have to be ruthlessly removed even if they sound good. Because they produce a disconnect in the song that every listener feels unconsciously. If you feel somebody’s trying to put you on, you really feel it.
Leonard Cohen on Longevity, Money, Poetry and Sandwiches By Gavin Edwards (Rolling Stone: Sept 19, 2014).