“I can hardly carry a tune but I think it’s a true voice in the sense that it’s not a lie. It presents the singer and the story he’s telling.” Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
I think my sound has always been a little different to whatever else has been happening, though. Out of time or something… Let’s just say I hear a different drum. Like that poem I wrote that went, ‘When it comes to lamentations, I prefer Aretha Franklin to Leonard Cohen, let us say he hears a different drum.’ I never thought I had a voice in the sense of a singer’s voice. I can hardly carry a tune but I think it’s a true voice in the sense that it’s not a lie. It presents the singer and the story he’s telling.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview). Photo by Pete Purnell.

“That confession to yourself that you cannot innovate, but you might be able to affirm that which is worthwhile affirming, is a wonderful notion and the beginning of a kind of wisdom.” Leonard Cohen

In closing, Cohen responds to the reading of a line from his 1978 book, Death of a Lady’s Man: “Greater is he that answers Amen than he that says the blessing,” explaining his sentiments:

“That’s a quotation from…the section of the Talmud called Ethics of the Father. It’s quite a wise and profound saying, and it has many resonances. That confession to yourself that you cannot innovate, but you might be able to affirm that which is worthwhile affirming, is a wonderful notion and the beginning of a kind of wisdom.”

And as to whether, in his music, he is innovating or affirming he takes a long pause.

I wonder if he’s deciding whether or not I deserve the real answer.

“If the affirmation is passionate and sincere, then it has the refreshment of innovation.”

From Leonard Cohen: Pondering His Past and ‘The Future’ by Scott Crawford (Intermission, Stanford Daily: April 8, 1993). Photo by Gerrit Terstiege Originally posted 2014/10/09 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I keep scratching away and things emerge” Leonard Cohen On Writing Poems Vs Songs Vs Novels

flwrshitler

He [Leonard Cohen] has published three collections of poetry and two novels, The Favorite Game and Beautiful Losers. He continues to write poetry, but it takes a back seat to his music.

quoteup2
I keep scratching away and things emerge. It’s a swifter, more impressionistic kind of work. The song is based on the stanza and uses a very intricate verse form. Whereas writing so-called poetry when you don’t have to come to the end of the line is a freer kind of activity. The regimen these songs demand is very much like the novel — they demand a daily application. There’s no way you can do this on the run. I wish there were. But, chez moi, I’ve got to get down to it every day.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Rebirth of a Ladies’ Man By Brendan Kelly. The Financial Post: December 12, 1992. Image from back cover of Flowers for Hitler by Leonard Cohen, Jonathan Cape (UK): 1973. Photo by Sophie Baker.

“I do not put poems to music as many people think.” Leonard Cohen On The Difference Between Written And Sung Poetry

About the difference between written and sung poetry:

quoteup2
Poems that are written for a book have certain rhythms that rise from the leaf to the eye. Not only visual rhythms, but also the rhythm of whispering, of the human voice. Lyrics that become songs were usually meant as songs. I do not put poems to music as many people think. My songs are all written as songs. Sometimes the lyrics of songs appear in a poetry collection. I had written Parasites of Heaven, but that book was rather thin. I had just finished a few songs and then decided to add the lyrics of those songs [Teachers, Suzanne, Master Song and Avalanche] to the end of the bundle, where they stand apart. quotedown2

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]. Thanks to Gordana Stupar, who alerted me to this article.

“The Future would be pretty grim if I just nailed it up on the church door like Martin Luther. I mean it is a hot little track and you can dance to it. It’s gotta have that.” Leonard Cohen


 
From Rebirth of a Ladies’ Man By Brendan Kelly. The Financial Post: December 12, 1992.

“A lot of my work is about what is appropriate behavior in the face of the flood, in the torrent… What is the appropriate conversation, the deep conversation?” Leonard Cohen

quoteup2
A lot of my work is about what is appropriate behavior in the face of the flood, in the torrent. Is it appropriate to talk about European union? What is the appropriate conversation, the deep conversation? How do you extend fraternal greetings under these conditions – at a time when you can’t be sure if the guy is coming to embrace you or hit you with a baseball bat? You have to develop an alertness that enables you to discern things.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

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

“If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often. And I guess [Bob Dylan] feels the same way.” Leonard Cohen (1992)

2Leonard Cohen Interview with Serge Simonart (1992). Photo by Pete Purnell.

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at