Leonard Cohen Quotes

Quotes tagged as "leonard-cohen" Showing 1-17 of 17
Tom Robbins
“There is evidence that the honoree [Leonard Cohen] might be privy to the secret of the universe, which, in case you're wondering, is simply this: everything is connected. Everything. Many, if not most, of the links are difficult to determine. The instrument, the apparatus, the focused ray that can uncover and illuminate those connections is language. And just as a sudden infatuation often will light up a person's biochemical atmosphere more pyrotechnically than any deep, abiding attachment, so an unlikely, unexpected burst of linguistic imagination will usually reveal greater truths than the most exacting scholarship. In fact. The poetic image may be the only device remotely capable of dissecting romantic passion, let alone disclosing the inherent mystical qualities of the material world.

Cohen is a master of the quasi-surrealistic phrase, of the "illogical" line that speaks so directly to the unconscious that surface ambiguity is transformed into ultimate, if fleeting, comprehension: comprehension of the bewitching nuances of sex and bewildering assaults of culture. Undoubtedly, it is to his lyrical mastery that his prestigious colleagues now pay tribute. Yet, there may be something else. As various, as distinct, as rewarding as each of their expressions are, there can still be heard in their individual interpretations the distant echo of Cohen's own voice, for it is his singing voice as well as his writing pen that has spawned these songs.

It is a voice raked by the claws of Cupid, a voice rubbed raw by the philosopher's stone. A voice marinated in kirschwasser, sulfur, deer musk and snow; bandaged with sackcloth from a ruined monastery; warmed by the embers left down near the river after the gypsies have gone.

It is a penitent's voice, a rabbinical voice, a crust of unleavened vocal toasts -- spread with smoke and subversive wit. He has a voice like a carpet in an old hotel, like a bad itch on the hunchback of love. It is a voice meant for pronouncing the names of women -- and cataloging their sometimes hazardous charms. Nobody can say the word "naked" as nakedly as Cohen. He makes us see the markings where the pantyhose have been.

Finally, the actual persona of their creator may be said to haunt these songs, although details of his private lifestyle can be only surmised. A decade ago, a teacher who called himself Shree Bhagwan Rajneesh came up with the name "Zorba the Buddha" to describe the ideal modern man: A contemplative man who maintains a strict devotional bond with cosmic energies, yet is completely at home in the physical realm. Such a man knows the value of the dharma and the value of the deutschmark, knows how much to tip a waiter in a Paris nightclub and how many times to bow in a Kyoto shrine, a man who can do business when business is necessary, allow his mind to enter a pine cone, or dance in wild abandon if moved by the tune. Refusing to shun beauty, this Zorba the Buddha finds in ripe pleasures not a contradiction but an affirmation of the spiritual self. Doesn't he sound a lot like Leonard Cohen?

We have been led to picture Cohen spending his mornings meditating in Armani suits, his afternoons wrestling the muse, his evenings sitting in cafes were he eats, drinks and speaks soulfully but flirtatiously with the pretty larks of the street. Quite possibly this is a distorted portrait. The apocryphal, however, has a special kind of truth.

It doesn't really matter. What matters here is that after thirty years, L. Cohen is holding court in the lobby of the whirlwind, and that giants have gathered to pay him homage. To him -- and to us -- they bring the offerings they have hammered from his iron, his lead, his nitrogen, his gold.”
Tom Robbins

Leonard Cohen
“My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn't write
What the night pencilled in”
Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing

Leonard Cohen
“so much of the world is plunged in darkness and chaos...

So ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
Leonard Cohen

Jeff Buckley
“Dylan and Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith, all dark, all romantic. When I say “romantic,” I mean a sensibility that sees everything, and has to express everything, and still doesn’t know what the fuck it is, it hurts that bad. It just madly tries to speak whatever it feels, and that can mean vast things. That sort of mentality can turn a sun-kissed orange into a flaming meteorite, and make it sound like that in a song.”
Jeff Buckley

Tom Robbins
“He was rowed down from the north in a leather skiff manned by a crew of trolls. His fur cape was caked with candle wax, his brow stained blue by wine - though the latter was seldom noticed due to the fox mask he wore at-all times. A quill in his teeth, a solitary teardrop a-squirm in his palm, he was the young poet prince of Montreal, handsome, immaculate, searching for sturdier doors to nail his poignant verses on.
In Manhattan, grit drifted into his ink bottle. In Vienna, his spice box exploded. On the Greek island of Hydra, Orpheus came to him at dawn astride a transparent donkey and restrung his cheap guitar. From that moment on, he shamelessly and willingly exposed himself to the contagion of music. To the secretly religious curiosity of the traveler was added the openly foolhardy dignity of the troubadour. By the time he returned to America, songs were working in him like bees in an attic. Connoisseurs developed cravings for his nocturnal honey, despite the fact that hearts were occasionally stung.

Now, thirty years later, as society staggers towards the millennium - nailing and screeching at the while, like an orangutan with a steak knife in its side - Leonard Cohen, his vision, his gift, his perseverance, are finally getting their due. It may be because he speaks to this wounded zeitgeist with particular eloquence and accuracy, it may be merely cultural time-lag, another example of the slow-to-catch-on many opening their ears belatedly to what the few have been hearing all along. In any case, the sparkle curtain has shredded, the boogie-woogie gate has rocked loose from its hinges, and here sits L. Cohen at an altar in the garden, solemnly enjoying new-found popularity and expanded respect.

From the beginning, his musical peers have recognized Cohen´s ability to establish succinct analogies among life´s realities, his talent for creating intimate relationships between the interior world of longing and language and the exterior world of trains and violins. Even those performers who have neither "covered" his compositions nor been overtly influenced by them have professed to admire their artfulness: the darkly delicious melodies - aural bouquets of gardenia and thistle - that bring to mind an electrified, de-Germanized Kurt Weill; the playfully (and therefore dangerously) mournful lyrics that can peel the apple of love and the peach of lust with a knife that cuts all the way to the mystery, a layer Cole Porter just could`t expose. It is their desire to honor L. Cohen, songwriter, that has prompted a delegation of our brightest artists to climb, one by one, joss sticks smoldering, the steep and salty staircase in the Tower of Song.”
Tom Robbins

Leonard Cohen
“He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.”
Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers

Roman Payne
“I ran across an excerpt today (in English translation) of some dialogue/narration from the modern popular writer, Paulo Coelho in his book: Aleph.(Note: bracketed text is mine.)... 'I spoke to three scholars,' [the character says 'at last.'] ...two of them said that, after death, the [sic (misprint, fault of the publisher)] just go to Paradise. The third one, though, told me to consult some verses from the Koran. [end quote]' ...I can see that he's excited. [narrator]' ...Now I have many positive things to say about Coelho: He is respectable, inspiring as a man, a truth-seeker, and an appealing writer; but one should hesitate to call him a 'literary' writer based on this quote. A 'literary' author knows that a character's excitement should be 'shown' in his or her dialogue and not in the narrator's commentary on it. Advice for Coelho: Remove the 'I can see that he's excited' sentence and show his excitement in the phrasing of his quote.(Now, in defense of Coelho, I am firmly of the opinion, having myself written plenty of prose that is flawed, that a novelist should be forgiven for slipping here and there.)Lastly, it appears that a belief in reincarnation is of great interest to Mr. Coelho ... Just think! He is a man who has achieved, (as Leonard Cohen would call it), 'a remote human possibility.' He has won lots of fame and tons of money. And yet, how his preoccupation with reincarnation—none other than an interest in being born again as somebody else—suggests that he is not happy!”
Roman Payne

Leonard Cohen
“It is easy to display a wound, the proud scars of combat. It is hard to show a pimple”
Leonard Cohen, The Favorite Game

Leonard Cohen
“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows”
Leonard Cohen

“It's funny, I've decided 'Hallelujah' is a kind of Rorschach test for people, because everyone has a different reaction to it and to what I'm doing. I just sang it, and whatever came out was just natural and spontaneous and maybe that's the best thing, because there's a kind of enigma, both in the meaning of the words and the way Leonard Cohen said them, that catches people's attention.”
Renée Fleming, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"

Liel Leibovitz
“Perhaps no line of Cohen’s better captures the essence of his vision. He is telling his listeners what prophetically inclined rabbis have been telling theirs for thousands of years, namely that the world is a place of suffering, that no celestial cataclysm could ever change that, but that there are things here on this earth - art, love, friendship, kindness, music, sex - that have the power to redeem us.”
Liel Leibovitz, A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen

Alan Light
“Though most cultural observers hadn't noticed it yet, everything was now in place for "Hallelujah" to sweep through the pop landscape. It was a song that had multiple strong, emotional connections with millions of listeners. Its mood was both fixed and malleable, universal and specific. It was familiar enough to resonate, obscure enough to remain cool. Though its most celebrated performer was gone forever, its mysterious creator had come back to the spotlight just in time.
After 2001, whether it signified an individual's solitude (human or monster or otherwise) or a population in mourning, "Hallelujah"—now far removed from Leonard Cohen's initial," rather joyous" intent—was established as the definitive representation of sadness for a new generation.”
Alan Light, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"

Liel Leibovitz
“You feel the same hum at a Cohen concert that you do at a church or a synagogue, a feeling that emanates from the realization that the words and tunes you're about to hear represent the best efforts we humans can make to capture the mysteries that surround us, and that by listening and closing your eyes and singing along, you, too can somehow transcend.”
Liel Leibovitz

Alan Light
“Needless to say, the song ["Hallelujah"] was now a climax in every show [of the 2009 Leonard Cohen tour], received like holy scripture. It belonged in a category with seeing Bob Dylan sing "Like a Rolling Stone" or watching Bruce Springsteen perform "Born to Run"—it was an event that people simply wanted to witness, to say they had seen. It took on a power that had to do with the song's history first, its feeling second, and its details hardly at all. Every performance carried with it a sense of where this song had been, who had sung it,where and how every listener had first encountered it; it had reached a place where it was something to be experienced, rather than listened to.”
Alan Light, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"

Blake Crouch
“There is no decent place to stand in a massacre.”
Blake Crouch, Run

“Leonard: I remember Marianne and I were in a hotel in Piraeus, some inex-
pensive hotel. We were both about twenty-five and we had to catch the boat
back to Hydra. We got up and I guess we had a cup of coffee or something
and got a taxi, and I’ve never forgotten this. Nothing happened, just sitting in
the back of the taxi with Marianne, [lighting] a cigarette, a Greek cigarette that
had that delicious deep flavour of a Greek cigarette that has a lot of Turkish to-
bacco in it, and thinking, I have a life of my own, I’m an adult, I’m with this
beautiful woman, we have a little money in our pocket, we’re going back to Hydra,
we’re passing these painted walls. That feeling I think I’ve tried to recreate hun-
dreds of times unsuccessfully. Just that feeling of being grown up, with some-
body beautiful that you’re happy to be beside and all the world is in front of
you. Your body is suntanned and you’re going to get on a boat. That’s a feeling
I remember very, very accurately.”
Kari Hesthamar, So Long, Marianne: A Love Story

Michael Whone
“There was one song on the album I found with Michelle that I had never heard before. It has piqued my fancy like it was a secret message, like it had been written the day before I purchased the album. It’s called Winter Lady.”
Michael Whone, Winter Lyric