“This notion that the common people aren’t up to the complexities or sophistication of my work is completely inaccurate and elitist.” Leonard Cohen

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I’ve always suggested to them in my mild-mannered way that they might stop thinking of me as an intellectual poet, that they [Leonard Cohen’s record label] might take their lead from some of these European countries and think of me as a pop singer.  This notion that the common people aren’t up to the complexities or sophistication of my work is completely inaccurate and elitist. Everybody has more or less the same emotional life. The heart is not subject to education, certainly not of the university variety. The heart just cooks and splatters like shish kebob in everybody’s breast.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen at Home in 1992: Singer-Songwriter on Pop Success, New Love by David Browne (Rolling Stone: November 11, 2016). Photo Credit: Dominique Issermann – Library and Archives Canada.

Leonard Cohen’s Original DeMille Opening Of I Can’t Forget


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I was led to the edge of a mighty sea of sorrow / Pursued by the armies of a dark and cruel regime / But the waters parted and my soul crossed over / Out of Egypt, out of Pharaoh’s dream.

Pretty good – it’s DeMille! [laughs]quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

The original opening verse of I Can’t Forget. Read about the evolution of I Can’t Forget at About Those Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Can’t Forget Album: I Can’t Forget

Quotation is from Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988

Leonard Cohen Explains Why He Changed Ain’t No Cure For Love From A Theological Proposition To A “Love Song About A Guy Who’d Lost A Girl”

jenn-lenn

With An Assist From Jennifer Warnes

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I had this idea that ‘there ain’t no cure for love’ in every sense of the matter. If you do have [love] it’s a kind of wound, and if you don’t have it it’s worse. And this is what Christ is about: Christ had to die because there ain’t no cure for love. You can’t change this world. And Christ, especially, understood this. So I wrote the whole song on those terms. [Interviewer: What terms?] Theological terms. And then I thought, ‘I’m never gonna get behind this, either. But Jenny [Jennifer Warnes] heard part of the song and she liked it. So I started writing a lyric that would have these ideas somewhere way, way back and no one would have to bother about them but me. It’d just be this love song about a guy who’d lost a girl.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988. The photo is a gift from Jennifer Warnes.

“I’ve always had this very scroogie point of view…” Leonard Cohen

sanseb

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I’ve always had this very scroogie point of view. When people demonstrate against nuclear weapons, I think, ‘These people think that if they eliminate nuclear weapons, they eliminate death.’ It promotes something like ‘eternal peace.’ But we’re not going to live forever; maybe I think, basically, that nothing really changes. I’m not attached to that opinion, though. I don’t even care if it’s true. When you’re banging your head against the dirty carpet of the Royalton Hotel trying to find the rhyme for ‘orange,’ you don’t care about these things.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988

“I was always attracted to his [Phil Spector’s] earlier work: ‘Unchained Melody,’ ‘Lovin’ Feeling.’ In those songs you could hear the predicament of the central story-teller.” Leonard Cohen

From The Great Ones Never Leave. They Just Sit It Out Once In A While by Harvey Kubernik. Melody Maker: November 26, 1977. Originally posted Feb 9, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“When I started the thing, I didn’t realize I had taken my first step on a walk to China.” Leonard Cohen On His Traumatic Translation Of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Poem For Take This Waltz

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‘Take This Waltz’ was written deep into the nervous breakdown. It took me 150 hours to do the translation of the poem [by Federico Garcia Lorca]. It was hard to adapt so you could sing it in 3/4. The official translation – well you couldn’t sing that. So I had to get permission from the [Lorca] estate to do my own translation. And I was sorry that they gave it to me because when I started the thing, I didn’t realize I had taken my first step on a walk to China. [Interviewer: You must read Spanish pretty well.] No, I don’t. I met a Costa Rican girl who helped me with it, and I had other translations that people had done, but they weren’t rhymed. His poem is rhymed. Then I went to Paris to record it, then I broke down and went to a monastery in New Mexico for two months. I thought, ‘I don’t have to do a record anymore, I’ll be a monk!’ It’s good to have these places to go. When I came out I started the record again.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988

Cohencentric has published several posts about Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz being based on his translation of Pequeño Vals Vienès by Federico García Lorca:

“The album’s about the death of a ladies’ man. You just can’t hold that point of view anymore. ” Leonard Cohen On Death Of A Ladies’ Man

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The album’s about the death of a ladies’ man. You just can’t hold that point of view anymore. Phil [Spector] saw it immediately. Anybody over thirty, I imagine, who’s had a couple of marriages and a couple of children, as Phil has had, would see that it’s authentic. I don’t know what it could possibly mean to a twenty-year-old.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen Obscured…A Haunting by Spector by Stephen Holden. Rolling Stone: January 26, 1978. Originally posted at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric