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Thread: Leonard Cohen interview

  1. #1

    Leonard Cohen interview

    Hi

    Just thought some of you might be interested in this interview with Leonard Cohen (don't know if you can get it outside UK, sorry)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/mainfram ... 4/frontrow

    Talks about his life, poetry, music and thoughts on and experiences with Buddhism.

    Kev

  2. #2

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Works ok here Kev.

    G,W

  3. #3

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    I cant open it

    Leonard Cohen is by far my favorite song writer. he touches me almost with everyone of his songs.
    i am actually reading on of his books of poems now. i read one of his novels and it was crazy sexual and perverse and just sick in a way. it was like reading the ramblings of a man obsessed and in pain.

    may i suggest a song called a thousand kisses deep...
    i heard in an interview he said it was about just letting go and accepting and actually finding peace and joy in it.
    i always thought this song as a containing some zen wisdom he had picked up during his time as a rinzai zen monk.

    " You lose your grip, and then you slip
    Into the Masterpiece. " - Leonard Cohen

  4. #4

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Thanks Zen, I will listen to it for sure!

    I heard Lennart spent some time in a Zen monastery. Swedish radio made a one hour long radio profile on him and I was struck by how uninterested he was about talking of the past, despite the reporter's attempts to bring it back. Some of it he seemed to have forgotten but wasn't bothered at all.
    He said that it did not matter and he was interested in the present, for example his friends coming over for dinner. I guess the person making the program soon had to accept it would be not what he/she expected. We could be just as well listening the old neighbour next door talk about his day. I certainly had to drop my expectations and ideas of who the person was.

    Gassho,

    Irina

  5. #5

    Sorry!

    Sorry Kev, I got the name of the author of the post wrong! My apologies!

    Gassho,

    Irina

  6. #6

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    No worries Irina :wink: I think the interview you heard was probably better and in more detail but as some one who knows of him and his songs but not about him it was intriguing.

    He seems to be doing the interview to promote his new tour as he's skint from his manager relieving him of £5 million while he was in the monastary. Apparently he rarely does them.

    Odd that Will can get it in China but not Zen, hey ho, the wonders of the net I guess :lol:

    Do you know who the 100+ year old Rinzai Roshi is he refers to? Or which monastary it is he was at?

    i'm interested in his new book of poetry, have to see if I can get in in the library.

    In gassho, Kev

  7. #7
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Leonard Cohen's teacher is Joshu Sasaki Roshi (the New York Times ran a wonderful article on him in December 2007), who teaches at Mount Baldy Zen Center in Southern California, perhaps the most notoriously rigorous, macho, and intense Zen training center in America. Though Leonard's stint as a monk there was relatively recent, he has been studying with Joshu Roshi since the 1970's.

    Poems and songs from the 1970s on reference Cohen's Zen practice. I agree with "Zen" that the songs on Ten New Songs (released shortly after Cohen ended his five-year stint as a monk on Baldy) are perhaps the most overt.

    Cohen has said many times that he identifies as a Jew, is happy with his religion, and does not need another one (see his modern-day Psalms in Book of Mercy), but is also obviously very serious about his Buddhist practice. I think he's even a bit coy and modest about it. He makes self-deprecatory jokes about not understanding Buddhism very well but is obviously (to me, at least) a very realized Zen practitioner.

    I deeply admire him and count him as one of my heroes, as he is a very committed practitioner but also very much a lover of the world who didn't give up his wine, women, and song even while in the monastery.

    He has lived quite a remarkable life. He also notoriously struggled with depression most of his life but has said that only recently it seems to have lifted, thanks to his Zen practice (the drugs never worked for him).

  8. #8

  9. #9

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Looks like we've got an authority on him here :wink:

    Thanks for that info Stephanie (and welcome back), he certainly has me intrigued.

    In gassho, Kev

  10. #10

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    I once read that Leonard Cohen's zen name is Jikan meaning the one who is silent. i find it very interesting that a man who writes books poems and songs for his living be considered silent. yet i do notice a certain shyness in his work and he actually tries to speak of things unspeakable which can not be put in to words... i must say he does a great job ( in my opinion )

    i have read his latest book of poems and i strongly suggest it. it is very personal and very interesting. it is like looking in to his soul, at least i felt it was like that.

  11. #11
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Thanks Longdog. I obviously am a big fan of Leonard Cohen, used to listen to his CDs on the way to and from sesshin or Sunday morning meetings at the Zen center.

    From Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs of Leonard Cohen:

    ROSHI AGAIN

    I saw Roshi early this morning. His room was warm and fragrant. Soon he was hanging from a branch by his teeth. That made me laugh. But I didn't want to laugh. Then he was playing my guitar. From above he looked old and tired. From below he looked fresh and strong. Destroy particular self and absolute appears. He spoke to me gently. I waited for the rebuke. It didn't come. I waited because there is a rebuke in every other voice but his. He rang his bell. I bowed and left.

    I visited him again after several disagreeable hours in the mirror. He hung from the branch again. He looked down fearfully. He was afraid of falling. He was afraid of dying. He was depending on the branch and on his teeth. This is the particular self. This is the particular trance. He played my guitar. He copied my own fingering. He invented someone to interrupt him. He demonstrated the particular trance being broken by the question: What is the source of this world? He asked me to answer. His voice was calm and serious. I was so hungry for his seriousness after the moronic frivolity and despair of hours in the mirror. I could not answer. Difficult, he said, reaching for his bell. I bowed and left.

    MY TEACHER

    My teacher gave me what I do not need, told me what I need not know. At a high price he sold me water beside the river. In the middle of a dream he led me gently to my bed. He threw me out when I was crawling, took me in when I was home. He referred me to the crickets when I had to sing, and when I tried to be alone he fastened me to a congregation. He curled his fists and pounded me toward my proper shape. He puked in disgust when I swelled without filling. He sank his tiger teeth into everything of mine that I refused to claim. He drove me through the pine trees at an incredible speed to that realm where I barked with a dog, slid with the shadows, and leaped from a point of view. He let me be a student of a love that I will never be able to give. He suffered me to play at friendship with my truest friend. When he was certain that I was incapable of self-reform, he flung me across the fence of the Torah.

    from Book of Longing:

    ROSHI AT 89

    Roshi's very tired,
    he's lying on his bed
    He's been living with the living
    and dying with the dead
    But now he wants another drink
    (will wonders never cease?)
    He's making war on war
    and he's making war on peace
    He's sitting in the throne-room
    on his great Original Face
    and he's making war on Nothing
    that has Something in its place
    His stomach's very happy
    The prunes are working well
    There's no one going to Heaven
    and there's no one left in Hell

    WHEN I DRINK

    When I drink
    the $300 scotch
    with Roshi
    it quenches every thirst
    A song comes to my lips
    a woman lies down with me
    and every desire
    invites me to curl up naked
    in its dripping jaws

    No more, I cry, no more
    but Roshi fills my glass again
    and new passions consume me
    new appetites
    For instance
    I fall into a tulip
    (and never hit the bottom)
    or I hurtle through the night
    in sweaty sexual union
    with someone about twice the size
    of the Big Dipper

    When I eat meat with Roshi
    the four-legged animals
    don't cry any more
    and the two-legged animals
    don't try to fly away
    and the exhausted salmon
    come home to my hand
    and Roshi's wolf
    biting at its broken chain
    creates a sensation
    in the cabin
    by making friends with everyone

    When I chow down with Roshi
    and the Ballantine flows
    the pine trees inch into my bosom
    the great boring grey boulders
    of Mt. Baldy
    creep into my heart
    and they all get fed
    with the delicious fat
    and the white cheese popcorn
    or whatever it is
    they've wanted all these years

    ROSHI

    I never really understood
    what he said
    but every now and then
    I find myself
    barking with the dog
    or bending with the irises
    or helping out
    in other little ways

    EARLY MORNING AT MT. BALDY

    Alarm awakened me at 2:30 a.m.:
    got into my robes
    kimono and hakama
    modelled after the 12th-century
    archer's costume:
    on top of this the koroma
    a heavy outer garment
    with impossibly large sleeves:
    on top of this the ruksu
    a kind of patchwork bib
    which incorporates an ivory disc:
    and finally the four-foot
    serpentine belt
    that twists into a huge handsome knot
    resembling a braided challah
    and covers the bottom of the ruksu:
    all in all
    about 20 pounds of clothing
    which I put on quickly
    at 2:30 a.m.
    over my enormous hard-on

    SEISEN IS DANCING

    Seisen has a long body.
    Her shaved head
    threatens the skylight
    and her feet go down
    into the apple cellar.
    When she dances for us
    at one of our infrequent
    celebrations,
    the dining hall,
    with its cargo of weightless monks
    and nuns,
    bounces around her hips
    like a Hula Hoop.
    The venerable old pine trees
    crack out of sentry duty
    and get involved,
    as do the San Gabriel Mountains
    and the flat cities
    of Claremont, Upland
    and the Inland Empire.
    Ocean speaks to ocean
    saying, What the hell,
    let's go with it, rouse ourselves.
    The Milky Way undoes its spokes
    and cleaves to Seisen's haunches,
    as do the worlds beyond,
    and worlds unborn,
    not to mention darkest holes
    of brooding anti-matter,
    and random flying mental objects
    like this poem,
    fucking up the atmosphere.
    It's all going round her hips,
    and what her hips enclose;
    it's all lit up by her face,
    her ownerless expression.
    And then there's this aching fool
    over here, no, over here
    who thinks that
    Seisen's still a woman,
    who's trying to find a place to stand
    where Seisen isn't Dancing.

    MY CONSORT

    There is this huge woman,
    (O G-d she's beautiful)
    this huge woman
    who, even though she is all women,
    has a very specific character;
    this huge woman
    who sometimes comes to me
    very early in the morning
    and plucks me out of my skin!
    We 'roll around heaven'
    several miles above the pine trees
    and there's no space between us,
    but we're not One
    or anything like that.
    We're two huge people,
    two immense bodies
    of tenderness and delight,
    with all the pleasures felt and magnified
    to match our size.
    Whenever this happens
    I am usually ready to forgive everyone
    who doesn't love me enough
    including you, Sahara,
    especially you.

    EARLY QUESTIONS

    Why do cloisters of radiant nuns study your production, while I drink the tea called Smooth Move, alone in my cabin during the howling winter?

    Why do you mount the High Seat and deliver an incomprehensible discourse on The Source of All Things, which includes questionable observations on the contract between men and women, while I sit on the floor twisted into the Lotus Position (which is not meant for North Americans), laying out the grid-lines of shining modern cities where, far from your authority, democracy and romance can flourish?

    Why do you fall asleep when, in order to familiarize you with our culture, I screen important sex videos, and then when they're finished, why do you suddenly wake up and say: "Study human love interesting, but not so interesting"?

    Why can't the Great Vehicle, which rolls so merrily through the quaint streets of Kyoto, make it up the switchbacks of Mt. Baldy? And if it can't, is it any good to us?

    Why do the irises bend to you, while dangerous pine cones fall from a considerable height on our unprotected bald heads?

    Why do you command us to talk, and then talk instead?

    It is because a bell has summoned me to your room, it is because I am speechless in the honor of your company, it is because I am reeling in the fragrance of some unutterable hospitality, it is because I have forgotten all my questions, that I throw myself to the floor, and vanish into yours.

    THE MOON

    The moon is outside
    I saw the great uncomplicated thing
    when I went to take a leak just now.
    I should have looked at it longer.
    I am a poor lover of the moon.
    I see it all at once and that's it
    for me and the moon.

    SWEET TIME

    How sweet time feels
    when it's too late

    and you don't have to follow
    her swinging hips

    all the way into
    your dying imagination

  12. #12

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    OOh yum, so much there, I'll have to go back for seconds (amd more) once Beren is in bed.

    I particularly like 'The Teacher' says alot about students. Hungry baby is stopping me digesting the rest...

    Good typer or cut and paster?

    In gassho, Kev

  13. #13
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Typed 'em out from the copies of his books I have sitting right next to me, I did

  14. #14

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Gassho

  15. #15

  16. #16
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Am I the only one who finds his music terribly depressive?

    Kirk (being a bit of a nay-sayer in several threads today)

  17. #17

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    I like what I've heard Couldn't comment on everything of his though.

    In my band we have a song called 'smile'. My mate wrote about embracing the pain and difficulties that his hip gave him and the opportunity it gave him to ponder. We think it's a really positive song and love it, but every time we play it people comment that it's music to slit your wrists too. Guess it's all in the ear of the beholder.

    In gassho, Kev

  18. #18

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    kirk you are kinda right.
    i always felt his music to be a bit sad. yet it is a bitter sad feeling. its sad but with some deep profound joy in it.

    steph i am also reading his book now.
    i have stranger music with me here.
    i have finished book of longing about 6 month ago and loved it very much

  19. #19

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Am I the only one who finds his music terribly depressive?

    Kirk (being a bit of a nay-sayer in several threads today)
    Not my thing either . . . he's a great lyricist, but his music leaves me flat. Just not enough there for me.

    Bill

  20. #20
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Quote Originally Posted by Longdog
    In my band we have a song called 'smile'. My mate wrote about embracing the pain and difficulties that his hip gave him and the opportunity it gave him to ponder. We think it's a really positive song and love it, but every time we play it people comment that it's music to slit your wrists too. Guess it's all in the ear of the beholder.
    I think it's also a matter of people's tolerance for heavy subject matter. I'm amused by the fact that so many people, when they talk about what they value in others, cite "a sense of humor" as being of central importance, as if it were a rare thing. I find that most people have a sense of humor, whereas much fewer have a capacity to be serious. Which I think may be a root of many of the problems in the world right now--people won't or can't deal with anything that's too "heavy," so they don't. Not being dealt with, it doesn't get resolved, and most of the world goes on in denial of the things people could unite to stop or change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zen
    i always felt his music to be a bit sad. yet it is a bitter sad feeling. its sad but with some deep profound joy in it.
    Beautifully put. I agree completely. I find Leonard Cohen's capacity for bitterness and melancholy carries with it a sense of humor, acceptance, and compassion for the world.

  21. #21

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    i have also noticed that as time goes by there is tremendous love for the world and everything in it that resonates in anything he writes. it is like sitting back looking at the world and giving a deep sigh of content and sadness all at once. i just love his work no other way to put it

  22. #22
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Quote Originally Posted by Zen
    it is like sitting back looking at the world and giving a deep sigh of content and sadness all at once.

  23. #23

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    I just love this part (from the NYT article):

    In 1962, two Zen students in California wrote to his temple in Japan seeking a teacher, and Joshu Roshi was selected. He arrived with little more than a pair of dictionaries, Japanese to English and English to Japanese. He set up in a garage in Los Angeles until founding what became his lead temple, the Rinzai-ji Center on Cimarron Street, where he and his wife still live. By 1970, he had created a Zen training center from a former Boy Scout camp at Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains. In 1972, a supporter sought to draw him to New Mexico. “You find hot springs, I come,” he said. She did — and he did, founding Bodhi Manda, or enlightenment circle.
    It's those moments where a person or a community starts from nowhere and just acts. Nothing to loose. Just do. When reading bios like that is at those moments when I ask myself what was going through their mind at that point. Zen teacher in a garage! Love it. :P

    “That’s why I am always angrily yelling at my students,” he said, “‘If you’re attached to American democracy, you’ll never become the leaders of the free world again.’”
    What does that mean? :?:

    Among those at a November retreat, paying $450 for a week’s dorm bed and board, was Jodo John Candy, 61, a monk and retired parks worker from the Seattle area who has come twice a year since 1987. “When the bell rings, you ring,” Mr. Candy said.
    :shock:

  24. #24

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    The radio interview I heard was called "If it will be your will " (from 2006) and was a lot about Marianne (his Norwegian muse?) and the songs she inspired. After that they played the radio documentary ”So long Marianne” av Kari Hesthamar (of Radio Norway), about Marianne herself. Unfortunately, the archive is available only 30 days back. But I found these transcripts of the interviews:

    http://thirdcoastfestival.org/documents ... urwill.pdf

    http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/marianne2006.html

    I have been listening "A thosand kisses deep" for 2 days now :lol: .

    Lots of valuable info in the thread. Thanks to everyone!

    Gassho,
    Irina

    Quote Originally Posted by Longdog
    No worries Irina :wink: I think the interview you heard was probably better and in more detail but as some one who knows of him and his songs but not about him it was intriguing.

    He seems to be doing the interview to promote his new tour as he's skint from his manager relieving him of £5 million while he was in the monastary. Apparently he rarely does them.

    Odd that Will can get it in China but not Zen, hey ho, the wonders of the net I guess :lol:

    Do you know who the 100+ year old Rinzai Roshi is he refers to? Or which monastary it is he was at?

    i'm interested in his new book of poetry, have to see if I can get in in the library.

    In gassho, Kev

  25. #25

  26. #26

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    this is my favorite Cohen song. and this is just the reason i love it so much.

    I did my best, it wasn't much
    I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
    I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
    And even though
    It all went wrong
    I'll stand before the Lord of Song
    With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

  27. #27
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    It's a great song, but the fact that it became popular when sung by Buckley is interesting. That's the first version of the song I heard, and when I listened to Cohen singing it, I was appalled at how much it sounded like a dirge. I don't like his voice, but in that song it's really a shame to hear him singing.

    Kirk

  28. #28

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    personally i really like his voice. there is someithing very deep and personal in his voice and it really shows in his songs

  29. #29
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    I can certainly understand that some people like his voice. It's just too lugubrious for me; add that to the songs themselves and it makes me want to mainline prozac. :-)

    Kirk

  30. #30
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I was appalled at how much it sounded like a dirge.
    I think that's half the point-- :!:

  31. #31

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Since I am part of the Great Ignorati :mrgreen:, the only song that I heard and love from his whole ouvre is "Everybody Knows." Heard a short snip of the song in Christian Slater's movie "Pump Up The Volume" and fell in love with that song. FWIW, Concrete Blonde and rufus wainwright do covers of that song.

  32. #32

    Re: Leonard Cohen interview

    Another Leonard Cohen lover here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXaRT8CXmGE[/video]]

    Love, paivi

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