Like ages of weightless snow
on tiny oceans filled with light
her eyelids enclose deeply
a shade tree of birthday candles
From “Now of Sleeping” by Leonard Cohen (The Spice Box of Earth)
Ten More Things About Leonard Cohen
On Leonard Cohen’s 78th birthday, 21 September 2012, I began a list of, coincidentally enough, “78 Things To Celebrate About Leonard Cohen,” the Updated, New & Improved version of Tim de Lisle’s classic Who Held A Gun To Leonard Cohen’s Head? aka Hallelujah: 70 Things About Leonard Cohen At 70.1
Today’s post is the eighth sublisting, comprising items #61- 70. (To present this material in a manageable format, the 78 entries have been divided into several posts, each of which contains no more than 10 items.) All posts in this series can be accessed through 78 Things To Celebrate About Leonard Cohen On His 78th Birthday: The Summary Page.
61. Leonard Cohen’s new biography by Sylvie Simmons is on the New York Times Best Seller List
On Sept 27, 2012, “I’m Your Man – The Life Of Leonard Cohen” by Sylvie Simmons entered the New York Times Best Seller List at #27. 2
62. Silent Night performed by Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes – Dec 15, 1979 Brighton, England
Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes – Silent Night
63. Leonard Cohen’s ability to say “no” to a request in exactly the right way
Julie Christensen’s Political Anatomy
Among many other musical accomplishments, Julie Christensen has frequently worked with Leonard Cohen, performing, for example, as vocalist on two of his world tours. So, it is not surprising that she went to him for assistance with song writing. In discussing the creation of her latest album, Christensen recounts this exchange with Cohen:
One of the first songs that came was the one that eventually became the title track. I started writing it a few years back around the time of Independence Day. I asked Leonard Cohen to help me write because he was the only person I knew who could give it the weight that it deserved. But when I told him the opening line, which goes “Between my thighs/Is all my country,” he responded,
I can’t help you there, darling.
You got yourself into this one, so you’re on your own.3
One needn’t, by the way, worry about Ms Christensen’s song; she reports that “… in the end, that one just propelled itself forward.”
64. His description of the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1970: “Brigadoon with a touch of Havana”
It’s also noteworthy that the Cohen was in Madison as the featured performer for Homecoming.
Of course, it was a University of Wisconsin style “Bring Them Home-Vietnam 70″ Homecoming.
65. Leonard Cohen’s acquired wisdom about money
Appearing on a Norwegian TV talk show, Cohen explained what he had learned from the discovery that his $5 million retirement fund had been embezzled.4
Money has a way of disappearing if you don’t watch it very, very closely. That’s a certain wisdom I acquired. I wasn’t absolutely certain of this [before the pilferage of his $5 million retirement fund], but now I am. It’s enough to put a dent in your mood.
66. How he remained uncorrupted by money during the 1960s folk music era
But in the late ’60s you were in a community of folk singers who played together, sang each other’s songs – And everybody went for the money. Everybody. The thing died very, very quickly; the merchants took over. Nobody resisted. My purity is based on the fact that nobody offered me much money.5
67. Leonard Cohen awarded The Glenn Gould Prize
On May 14, 2012 at what was officially billed as The Glenn Gould Prize Gala Concert in Honour of Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer-songwriter was recognized as the Ninth Laureate of The Glenn Gould Prize.
Leonard Cohen Glenn Gould Prize Acceptance Speech
Video recorded live by Arlene Dick of Arlene’s Leonard Cohen Scrapbook
Credit Due Department: The sculpture of Glenn Gould, located outside of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Studios on Front Street in Toronto, is by Ruth Abernethy. The image of Leonard Cohen I’ve added to the photo is from the cover art of his Old Ideas album and is based on a photo by Kezban Özcan. The Glenn Gould prize statue is also by Ruth Abernethy; it was found on the Glenn Gould Foundation site.
68. His homage to Canada
My great grandfather, Lazarus Cohen, came to Canada in 1869, to the county of Glengarry, a little town in Maberly. It’s customary to thank people for the help and aid they’ve given. On this occasion, because of the great hospitality that was accorded my ancestor who came here over 140 years ago, I want to thank this country, Canada, for allowing us to live and work and flourish in a place that was different from all other places in the world. So I thank Canada for the opportunity that was given me to work and play and flourish. … Thank you, friends.
Leonard Cohen on the eve of receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, paying respect to his home country during a party at the Canadian consul general’s residence.6
69. Leonard Cohen’s aspiration: “To be a hero-type, Superman, Captain Thunder”
At the time I wanted to be a hero-type, Superman, Captain Thunder.7
This worthy ambition reflected Cohen’s fascination with comic books. In Lian Lunson’s documentary, “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man,” Cohen describes his early reading.
The first poetry that ever affected me was in the synagogue, in the liturgy, and the Bible stories. And that would send shivers down my spine. The stories I was reading, in those days, mostly came from Marvel Comics. Captain Marvel, Superman, Aquaman, Spider Man, the various heroes. [emphasis mine]
While the influence of the poetry Cohen experienced “in the synagogue, in the liturgy, and the Bible stories” has been addressed in many articles, papers, and books, the importance of his earliest independent reading choices remains sadly and inexplicably unexplored by scholars. More about the influence of comic books on Leonard Cohen, however, can be found at Leonard Cohen’s Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes – Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, … and Leonard Cohen As Captain Thunder Aspirant.
70. His advice on what to tell a woman after sex
Items #71-78 to follow in a subsequent post
All posts in this series can be accessed through
78 Things To Celebrate About Leonard Cohen
On His 78th Birthday: The Summary Page
- Who Held A Gun To Leonard Cohen’s Head? by Tim de Lisle. The Guardian, 16 September 2004 [↩]
- See review at Sept 18, 2012: “I’m Your Man” By Sylvie Simmons Becomes The Definitive Leonard Cohen Biography [↩]
- It is disconcerting to realize that Leonard Cohen saying “No” to a beautiful woman is more seductive than me saying “Yes” – or “Yes, yes yes, a million times yes.” [↩]
- See Leonard Cohen & Anjani Appear On TV Talk Show [↩]
- “Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough” By Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988 [↩]
- See Leonard Cohen offers thanks to Canada – The Globe and Mail [↩]
- An Intimate Conversation with…Leonard Cohen by Elena Pita (Magazine, Sunday Supplement to El Mundo, September 26, 2001) [↩]
- “Yakety Yak” by Scott Cohen (1994) [↩]