Oh My Cohen! They’re Calling Us A Cult

Cult of Leonard Cohen Story - Star Toronto Star Cult of Leonard Cohen Headline1

Uh-oh – THE MASTER Is Gonna Be Pissed

Every time Rolling Stone,2 the BBC News,3 Wikipedia,4 or some other publication or blog uses the C-word to describe the fans of Leonard Cohen, HE gets agitated – and for good reason. Enjoying Leonard Cohen’s music, after all, hardly qualifies one as a member of a cult.

In fact, as a group, we Leonard Cohen fans have almost none of the qualities commonly associated with a cult.

OK, we do treat HIM and HIS sacred songs and writings with a certain reverence, and there is an inner group of true believers devoted to HIS work. And yes, the songs writings, and the web sites display more than a little religious symbolism and imagery. OK, the tribute concerts that go on all over the world with HIM present only in spirit do sort of resemble a combination tent revival and holy festival. But take those things away and what is left to make one think “cult?” … besides the Zen Monk stuff … and the realization that Cohen fans are, compared to the barbarians who pretend they don’t see the appeal of Cohen, enlightened5 … and those nicknames for Cohen like the High Priest of Pathos, the Poet of Holy Sinners, and a dozen other titles of that sort6 … and maybe this excerpt from a previous Heck of a Guy post, Comparison and Contrast: The Whither Thou Goest Videos:

The … video player contains the song as the concluding number of a 1993 concert in Toronto.

I recommend viewers take special note of the morphing of Leonard Cohen, he of the distinguished Jewish heritage and Zen Buddhist involvement, into Reverend Leonard, the TV evangelist – “Put your hand on the screen … .”

Leonard Cohen & Backup Singers End Their 1993 Toronto Performance With Whither Thou Goest

On the other hand, I have found no evidence that Kool-aid has ever been served at a Leonard Cohen concert. And, not even in the most remote, kabbalistic conversational estuaries hidden deep inside the heart of darkness known as leonardcohenforum.com are there references to, say, a Leonard Cohen militia or plans to build a compound in Montana. Heck, there hasn’t even been a documented virgin sacrifice since the 1976 Birmingham concert.7

For The Love Of Cohen, Don’t Call Us A Cult

One would think the Toronto Star would know better than to test the patience of THE POET. For, as it is written in the Book of The Energy of Slaves,

I dream of torturing you
because you are so puffed up with pride
You stand there with a bill of rights
or an automatic rifle
or your new religion
I am the angel of revenge
The flowers and the mountains
the milky afternoons of childhood
all innocent and abandoned forms
have designated me
the angel of revenge
This machine is rubber and metal
it fits over your body and you die slowly

Does that sound like it’s written by someone you want to screw around with? If the Don and Humber Rivers on either side of Toronto are suddenly filled with oh, I don’t know … blood, well, I guess we know who is responsible for provoking The Prophet Of Despair.

Don River To Blood


Forgive them Leonard,  for they know not what they do


Next: The sequel to this post is The Cult Of Leonard Cohen Heresy, Part II

  1. The illustration, headline, date, and masthead were taken directly from the article on the newspaper’s web site but have been rearranged to better fit the space available in the blog framework. The original article can be viewed at the preceding link. []
  2. The New Leonard Cohen: The cult hero on his songwriting, cooking and Chinese liquor []
  3. Leonard Cohen’s downbeat success: … his debut album, The Songs Of Leonard Cohen, was released. Its bleak subject matter found favour with a cult audience worldwide … []
  4. Leonard Cohen: The sound of Cohen’s first album Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) was too dark to be a commercial success, but was widely acclaimed by folk music buffs. He became a cult name in the UK … []
  5. This realization can be accessed, obviously, only by Cohen fans []
  6. See Leonard Cohen, AKA – The Nicknames []
  7. Thank Cohen for small favors. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to track down a virgin at a Leonard Cohen concert? []

0 responses to “Oh My Cohen! They’re Calling Us A Cult

  1. besides the Zen Monk stuff.

    Oh no not that. Cult stuff. Ha! (I’m a Cohen fan too.)

  2. caution folk – the drhguy may be a recruiter – he’s used an !

  3. Yeah, you’ve made me enlightened – I had so much doubt and hesitation about my religious membership. Now I know. Hail to Holy Scripts of the Canadian Newspaper, hail to You, Priest, hail to the Master and to all our fellow believers!