“Why Don’t You Try is, like many of my songs, written for a woman. It’s not about meeting or saying goodbye, but about who you stay with.” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen – All culture is nail polish by Bert van de Kamp, OOR magazine No.21, October 23, 1974. [Via Google Translate]. Photo by Pete Purnell. Thanks to Gordana Stupar, who alerted me to this article.

Note: Leonard Cohen’s thoughts on his music, organized by song title, can be found at Leonard Cohen On His Songs

Q: What do you think rock is? Leonard Cohen: “I think it’s a huge collection of bundled energy that is constantly growing and coming from all kinds of different musical forms and all kinds of different ideas and philosophies. Exactly what it is cannot be explained.”

More of Leonard’s thoughts on rock music can be found at “Rock is where I feel at home. Besides, I like disguises” Leonard Cohen On His Music Being Categorized As Rock.

From Leonard Cohen – All culture is nail polish by Bert van de Kamp, OOR magazine No.21, October 23, 1974. [Via Google Translate]. The image atop this post is the cover of Rock & Folk No. 131, Dec 1977 (illustration by Dominique Lechaud) from the private collection of Dominique BOILE. Thanks to Gordana Stupar, who alerted me to this article.

“I always used to work hard [at songwriting]. But I had no idea what hard work was until something changed in my mind… I don’t really know what it was. Maybe some sense that this whole enterprise is limited, that there was an end in sight… That you were really truly mortal.” Leonard Cohen (1992)

From a 1992 interview with Leonard Cohen published in Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo. Da Capo Press: 1997. Photo by Paul Zollo. Originally posted Aug 24, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[Writing songs is] a tedious process at the beginning but then it becomes obsessional.”Leonard Cohen

flwrshitler

What is your writing routine like?

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I usually carry a notebook, jot down a few things. A musical phrase arises. I try to marry them. A tedious process at the beginning but then it becomes obsessional and the hours go by.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Online Web Chat October 16, 2001. Image from back cover of Flowers for Hitler by Leonard Cohen, Jonathan Cape (UK): 1973. Photo by Sophie Baker.

“[My life] doesn’t have many events, so the song has to come out of some other place. It’s not an event and it’s not a message, it’s another kind of colour.” Leonard Cohen

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My life seems empty. I’m not saying this in any sense of despair. I mean the quality is empty. It doesn’t have many events, so the song has to come out of some other place. It’s not an event and it’s not a message, it’s another kind of colour.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Behind The Enigma By Tony Wilson. New Musical Express: March 25, 1972. Photo by Lars Sandblom.

“Much of [The Future] was occasioned by the collapse of the Berlin Wall, because even though it is impossible not to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, I alone among my friends produced a gloomy prediction.” Leonard Cohen

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Much of this record [The Future] was occasioned by the collapse of the Berlin Wall, because even though it is impossible not to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, I alone among my friends produced a gloomy prediction. People were saying democracy is coming to the East – fat chance! If it’s coming anywhere, it’s coming to the United States. I had 50 verses for that song ‘Democracy:’ one of them went: ‘It ain’t coming to us European style, concentration camp behind the smile. / It ain’t coming from the East with its temporary feast. / Count Dracula comes strolling down the aisle.’quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

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

“Everybody has a different way [of songwriting]. Mine is heavy labour.” Leonard Cohen

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Everybody has a different way [of songwriting]. Mine is heavy labour. There’s a saying – ‘Only when you’ve bathed in sweat can you see the palace of pearls in a blade of grass.’ Only from the point of view of real expenditure can you see value.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From “Hello! I Must Be Cohen” By Gavin Martin (New Musical Express, January 9, 1993).