Lessons From Leonard Cohen: “To keep our hearts open is probably the most urgent responsibility you have as you get older” – Growing Old & The Need For Deeper Love


A Manual For Living With Defeat

Lessons From Leonard Cohen – A Manual For Living With Defeat is a collection of Leonard Cohen’s observations that offer insight into living in this imperfect world. (For information about how this series differs from other collections of so-called lessons from Leonard Cohen, see Lessons From Leonard Cohen – Introduction.)

Lesson #3: “To keep our hearts open is probably the most urgent responsibility you have as you get older” – Growing Old & The Need For Deeper Love

openheart-1The above quotation is from Leonard Cohen Interviewed by Anjelica Huston. Interview magazine: November, 1995. It is expanded in the following excerpts, the first from Q Questionnaire – Leonard Cohen (Q Magazine, September 1994) and the second is from Leonard Cohen als Zen-Mönch, a video shot during one of the several visits Leonard Cohen and Roshi made to a Zen Center in Austria from 1990 to 1996.


My old teacher told me that the older you get and the lonelier you get, the deeper is your need for love. Like everyone else, I have looked for such deep love. And as you get older, you need this love to be grounded, until there is no difference between you and your love, or what you love or what you are. It’s just the one thing.


More Lessons From Leonard Cohen

All posts in this series can be found at

Cohencentric Lessons From Leonard Cohen
A Manual For Living With Defeat

“I never think of the people who listen to my songs as ‘fans'” Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen arrives on stage - Dublin 2008

Leonard Cohen – Dublin 2008

Q: Sometimes ‘fans’ tend to put a poet/artist on such a high pedestal that our expectations may seem overwhelming. Hopefully you have never felt such pressure. Do you have any expectations of your ‘fans’? Is there such a thing as ‘the perfect fan’? What has the ultimate reward been for you?

I never think of the people who listen to my songs as ‘fans.’ Something disagreeable about seeing people that way. I think of the activity as a kind of conversation, and now it’s my turn to talk. Expectations are out of place in the privacy of the occasion, and if I have them, it probably means the song isn’t any good.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From the 2001 online chat: Photo by Karl Smyth. Originally posted February 21, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On His Motivation: “I do what I do because …”


I don’t consider myself a great singer. I just play the guitar and interpret my lyrics. I do what I do because I have a need to do it, to express what I know, and to show people what I do.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


1974 Interview with Leonard Cohen by Jordi Sierra I Fabra. Published in Leonard Cohen by Alberto Manzano (1978). Photo of Leonard Cohen performing in 1974 by Bernd Morlock. Originally posted Nov 21, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Listen To Allison Crowe’s Charming Rendition Of Baby, It’s Cold Outside



From the YouTube Description:

Indoors, music-makers and music-lovers are radiating joy and excitement – but, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”.

Here’s Allison Crowe with her a cappella icing of the Frank Loesser Wintertime classic. The musical stocking warms with glowing tunes from the popular songbook on Crowe’s just-released album – “Souling (Bonus Tracks Edition)”.

The genesis of “Souling” is found within the creative family of Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, an Atlantic Canadian professional theatre company founded in 1979. Each Summer from 2012 through 2015 Allison Crowe’s served as Musical Director of “Newfoundland Vinyl” – an hit stage show produced by TNL for the Gros Morne Theatre Festival. Alongside this ongoing success, in 2014, TNL Artistic Associate SaraH McDonald invited the Corner Brook, NL-based musician to also be MD for a vibrant production of “A Christmas Carol”.

The Adaptation of this classic Charles Dickens story by playwright Jeff Pitcher, TNL’s Artistic Director, excited Crowe’s musical imagination – as did the desire of McDonald, the play’s Director, to incorporate songs in the style of Victorian Era carolers.

So inspired, Allison Crowe immersed herself in curating and arranging music for choral presentation – a process which gave an unique breath of life to these solo performance recordings. “Her arrangements are undeniably exquisite,” notes Celtic Music Fan.

In 2015, Crowe musically directs a new TNL show for the holiday season – “The Gift of the Magi”. O. Henry’s short-story is adapted for the stage by Jon Jory and directed by TNL’s AD Jeff Pitcher. Carollers in this show will perform favourite Christmas carols, and also modern, secular, tunes. And from these latter songs, popularized by Elvis, Eartha Kitt, Louis & Ella, Nat King Cole and Stevie Wonder among others, Allison Crowe’s selected the newest tracks for “Souling”.

Allison Crowe – Souling

Allison Crowe – Baby, It’s Cold Outside
From Souling


Violinist Tim Fain On Leonard Cohen: “Just a sweet, sweet man.”

Philip [Glass] and I work together a whole lot. We’ve been collaborating on various projects for about 10 or 11 years now. We got started working together on a piece called “Book of Longing,” which was a song cycle Philip wrote based on Leonard Cohen’s poetry. Leonard would show up on tour. He would come out and take a bow afterwards. I got to know him a bit as well – a beautiful soul. His eyes just looked right through you and so generous. He would offer to carry my violin off the tour bus. Just a sweet, sweet man.

From Violinist Tim Fain Talks Virtual Reality, ‘Moonlight’ And Collaborating With Philip Glass by Charlie Shelton & Frank Stasio (WUNC: Nov 17, 2017) Emphasis mine. Photo By tim fain – timfain.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia. Thanks to Bev, who alerted me to this article.

Iranian Book On Life & Work Of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Of Shahyar By Shahyar Ghanbari – Released

Leonard of Shahyar by celebrated Iranian lyricist Shahyar Ghanbari on the life and work of the legendary Canadian poet, singer and writer is released by Negah Publishing. According to IBNA correspondent, the book also features several Cohen’s poems translated by Ghanbari based on his impression of the Canadian poet’s works.

From ‘Leonard Of Shahyar’ Delves Into Cohen’s Poetry (IBNA: Nov 21, 2917). The complete article is available at the link.

A Note On Leonard Cohen’s Notebook

A reader asked about the “Manual For Defeat” notebook (above) that illustrates posts in the Lessons From Leonard Cohen series. It is loosely based on the notebooks Leonard himself filled with lyrics, notes, and drawings, such as the pocket-sized Selectum 100 page spiral notebook he reads from in a 2006 interview done for Norwegian TV.