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Leonard Cohen 1980 Interview - Patrick Watson

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Leonard Norman Cohen, born 1934, deceased 2016, is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963. His work often deals with the exploration of religion, isolation, sexuality and complex interpersonal relationships. Famously reclusive, spending years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, and possessing a persona frequently associated with mystique, he is extremely well-regarded by critics for his literary accomplishments and for producing an output of work of high artistic quality over a five-decade career.

Musically, Cohen’s earliest songs (many of which appeared on the 1967 album, Songs of Leonard Cohen) were rooted in European folk music. In the 1970s, his material encompassed pop, cabaret and world music. Since the 1980s his high baritone voice has evolved into lower registers (bass baritone and bass), with accompaniment from a wide variety of instruments and female backing singers.

Over 2,000 renditions of Cohen’s songs have been recorded. Cohen has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honour. While giving the speech at Cohen’s induction into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2008, Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the “highest and most influential echelon of songwriters”.

Leonard Cohen Prologues

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Hydra, October 1960: Cohen bought his home on the Aegean island in September 1960 for $1,500. Here he rides a donkey behind Marianne Ihlen, his first muse.
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Hydra, Greece October 1960: Leonard Cohen playing guitar next to partner Marriane Ihlen.
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California, 10 November 1995: Meditating at the Mount Baldy Zen centre. Cohen was ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk in 1996. “I am not a Buddhist, but a pseudo-Buddhist,” he said in 2001.
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Leeds, September 2013: On the European leg of a world tour of more than 70 dates. The three-hour sets won universal acclaim.
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Montreal, Autumn 1963: Cohen at work in his home town, with his debut novel, The Favourite Game, on the desk.
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Hamburg, 4 May 1970: Performing on stage with members of the audience at the Musikhalle.
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Israel, October 1973: When the Yom Kippur War broke out Cohen enlisted in the Israeli Entertainment Corp.
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Rhode island, 7 July 1967: Cohen met fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell at the Newport folk festival. They subsequently had an intense, year-long relationship.
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You go your way,
I’ll go your way too.


There are rules: The joy that is born in recognition of this existence, then that joy you get to keep. The joy that is born in the recognition of this breath, then that is the joy you get to keep.

The joy that is born in the recognition of that gratitude, then that is the joy you get to keep. Not now, but for ever and ever and ever.

☆ Prem Rawat

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