“Religion can be a purification system…that allows you to pass from the ‘not clean’ world to the ‘clean’ world [and back]” Leonard Cohen


What is your idea of sin?

There is a difference between what is ‘clean’ and what is not. The notion of ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ today would be called vibrations. It is the feeling that tells you where you should be and where you should not be. But as we cannot always be in the ‘clean’ world, sometimes we touch the ‘not clean’ world. Religion can be a purification system, a technique, a method that allows you to pass from the ‘not clean’ world to the ‘clean’ world. A system to prepare you for the ‘clean’ world and once you are there, another system to give you enough strength to pass again to the ‘not clean’ world. Because man cannot always be in a ‘clean’ world nor in a ‘not clean’ world. For me, religion is that movement between the two worlds. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Cohen Words And Silences by Constantino Romero. Vibrations 2 (November 1974). Republished in Rockdelux 356 (December 2016). Via Google Translate. Photo by Pete Purnell

Meeting Leonard Cohen, Or As Marc Altheim Puts It “Leonard Cohen & Me – OMG”


marc-altheimMarc Altheim emailed me (and, I suspect, everyone in his address book) about his Leonard Cohen encounter in Amsterdam, where he and his wife traveled to see, among other sights, the Sept 20, 2013 Leonard Cohen concert. Marc’s message also included these tidbits:

  • I was shaking when we first met.
  • He is such a gentleman.
  • Mystic!
  • Surreal.
  • When we took the picture he actually hugged tightly. He was into it. We had some brief chit chat. We spoke of meditating and the synagogue in Amsterdam. I wished him Happy Sukkah. When I left he said Z’ gesundt (sic)!

Note: Originally posted Sept 19, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

How DrHGuy First Connected With Leonard Cohen: 1. Anjani – A Muse Amused?



Update: Introduction

Some newly minted fans have asked how l first came to meet Leonard Cohen. Now, multiple “Leonard & me” narratives have been published recently featuring folks who performed or collaborated with him, those who interviewed or photographed the Canadian singer-songwriter only to subsequently realize they had bonded into intimate associates, others who met him by sheer serendipity, and still others who came into Leonard’s sphere of grace because of family connections, geographical proximity, mutual sexual attraction, overlapping friendships, or shared involvement in music, Judaism, poetry, food, literature, Zen … My story is less intellectually/spiritually profound than, say, accounts of spending hours sipping coffee and smoking exotic tobaccos while debating Kabbalistic archetypes with Leonard, but it does have the merit of being unique.

It begins with my July 25, 2006 1HeckOfAGuy.com1 review of the Leonard Cohen – Anjani Thomas collaboration, Blue Alert. The next step is described in the Aug 8, 2006 followup entry I’ve reposted below:

Anjani Re DrHGuy: Jejune, Yet Not Without A Certain Charm

This Sunday past, the Heck Of A Guy Blog had an unexpected, but unquestionably welcome, visitor, who left, as a calling card, a comment on Music Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me.

Go ahead, check it out at the bottom of that post; I know you’re curious about who it is. I’ll wait here, humming along with the Jeopardy tune that plays while each contestant scrawled his or her “Final Jeopardy” answer, in the form of a question.

Cool comment, eh?

And, take a look this screenshot of the Press page of the Blue Alert web site:

presskiss500OK, before I get the emails and comments informing me that, as that New Yorker cartoon has it, “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” I am all too aware that that the comment could have actually been written by a large, malodorous, unshaven, chain smoking publicist’s assistant of indeterminate gender paid scarcely more than a living wage to reinforce and influence impressionable bloggers who write positive reviews of Anjani’s music. But, you know what? I don’t think Anjani rolls that way.

In any case, I’m certainly choosing to believe otherwise.

In fact, I think if I had handled things differently…

Where I Might Have Gone Wrong

After re-reading my review of Blue Alert, I recognize that it may have been well put yet off-putting and that, despite my enthusiasm for her music, I might have constructed a more seductive post.

I now realize, for example, that labeling one section, “Lenny & Anji,” could be considered, at least by the more staid sort, as a tad presumptuous – or even flippant. Further, I would admit that comparing my serendipitous discovery of the Blue Alert album to the blind date that led to the catastrophe known as my first marriage was not an altogether ideal association.

Continue Reading →

  1. 1HeckOfAGuy.com was a predecessor of Cohencentric []

“If you can sing about it, that’s a kind of answer.” Leonard Cohen WSJ Interview



Interviewer: The new record is called “Popular Problems.” Are these what we are all up against?
Leonard Cohen: I thought it as a general description of what we’re all up against. Those are the questions: Life, death, war, peace, space, God. All those matter and rather facetiously, I describe them as “popular problems.”

Interviewer: All of us think about that stuff daily and there are no real answers.

Leonard Cohen: No.

Interviewer: But you can sing about it?
Leonard Cohen: If you can sing about it, that’s a kind of answer.

From Leonard Cohen on ‘Popular Problems’ and How to Listen to Kanye West by Mike Ayers. Wall Street Journal: Sep 19, 2014

“Something … Closer To The Heart” – Listen To The Underappreciated “Land Of Plenty” By Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson



I don’t think we can look at the world without feeling a sense of distress at the vast suffering we see around us, and I wanted to comment on that. But I didn’t want to produce a slogan. I wanted to produce something that was closer to the heart and convey the sense of impotence we have about dealing with it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Back to Life’s Adventure After a Zen Retreat by Robert Hilburn. Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2001.

Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson – Land Of Plenty
From Ten New Songs

Note: Originally posted July 26, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s Clinical Depression, Its Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution



Leonard Cohen’s Antidepressant Medications Joke & His Not At All Funny Depression

Those who have attended a Leonard Cohen Concert during the 2008-2009 Tour, checked out videos of those concerts, or read Cohencentric posts referring to Cohen’s just a kid with a crazy dream … cheerfulness kept breaking through monologue may recall the portion of Cohen’s stage spiel that goes something like this:

I was 60 years old [when last on tour] — just a kid with a crazy dream. Since then I’ve taken a lot of Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Ritalin, Focalin, … I’ve also studied deeply in the philosophies and religions, but cheerfulness kept breaking through.

The opening moments of this video from the Nokia Theater (Los Angeles) show on April 10, 2009 is representative:

Feature stories about Leonard Cohen in newspapers and blogs published during the World Tour have almost routinely covered his Zen Buddhist experience and his Jewish background; consequently, most audience members readily grasp the references to religions and philosophies.1

The significance of the list of antidepressant medications, however, may be less apparent because that part of Cohen’s history seems, with notable exceptions, less frequently mentioned in those recent articles.

Clearly, someone should do something. But who and how?

That’s right – this calls for a Cohencentric public service announcement.

Leonard Cohen, Depression, Medications, and Noncompliance

By the 1950s, Cohen, then in his late teens, was experiencing signs and symptoms of depression,2 a disorder from  which his mother also suffered.3

Cohen describes his despondency in A Happy Man by Mireille Silcott:4

“My depression, so bleak and anguished, was just crucial, and I couldn’t shake it; it wouldn’t go away,” he says, looking back at that time from his suite in the Vogue. “I didn’t know what it was. I was ashamed of it, because it would be there even when things were good, and I would be saying to myself, ‘Really, what have you got to complain about?’ But for people who suffer from acute clinical depression, it is quite irrelevant what the circumstances of your life are.”


Continue Reading →

  1. Re the source of Cohen’s “I’ve studied all the philosophies … ” crack, The original line was actually uttered by one Edward Edwards, who directed it to his friend, Samuel Johnson: “You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson. I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don’t know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.” Recorded by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D []
  2. Other sources argue, less convincingly, that Cohen’s depression was in evidence since age nine, apparently confusing a possible contributing cause of depression, the death of Cohen’s father that year, with the onset of the disorder itself. []
  3. Nadel, Ira Bruce.  Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen. University of Texas Press, 2007. p 48 []
  4. A Happy Man by Mireille Silcott Saturday Night, Canada. September 15, 2001 []

Video – Leonard Cohen In The Movies: “Suzanne” & “So Long, Marianne” in Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana (mirages) is an experimental film by Werner Herzog shot in the Sahara Desert.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne & So Long, Marianne
Fata Morgana
Suzanne begins at 1:35
So Long, Marianne becomes apparent at 7:10

Note: Originally posted Oct 23, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

I’m Your Thief: Invoking Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man To Explore Writers Using The Lives And Arts Of Others To Generate Their Own Literary Creations

If you want a writer, I’ll rhyme anything you ask me to.
And if you want a liar-kind of poet, I’ll break my heart for you.
If you want some real hope, take my hand;
Or if you want a robber of good lines, then, here I steal:
I’m your man.

Excerpted from I’m Your Thief by Felipe Munhoz. Huffington Post: October 18, 2013

Felipe Munhoz has written an autobiographical narrative based on “a stolen structure from Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man” in order to explore issues involved in writers using the lives and arts of others to generate their own literary creations. It’s a thought-provoking, worthwhile read. The entire piece is available at I’m Your Thief by Felipe Munhoz

French ad for I’m Your Man atop this post contribute by Dominique BOILE.

Note: Originally posted October 19, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Photos Of Interest: Leonard Cohen In Concert – Los Angeles 2012

These photos taken by Shannon Burns at the Nov 5, 2012 Leonard Cohen Los Angeles concert are too good to miss. Worthy of special note are

  • Image #3: Sharon Robinson performing the seldom photographed Olé move
  • Image #7: A copy of the show’s timeline atop the mixing board
  • Images #18: Shannon explains, “The two guys next to me (the ones who had gone to the show in Madrid) brought Leonard a packet of enlarged photos they had taken and printed of Leonard from the shows they had been to previously. At the end, they threw it onto the stage, and Leonard, after the song, went over to it, knelt, picked it up, then mouthed to them (as seen in the photo) ‘for me?’ He then took it to the back in front of the drum set on the drum kit stage, and then took it offstage.”

Note: Originally posted Dec 2, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Mon, that Leonard Cohen – he be cool mon. He be the Bob Marley of Canada”

The Back Story: Michael Bromfield writes that he was a guest in the studio for two hours of “Roots Reggae” with two Jamaican DJs on the Vancouver Community Radio Station, talking not only about reggae but about subjects as diverse as Vladimir Putin and Leonard Cohen. In the midst of the broadcast, one respected Elder of the Jamaican Community in Vancouver rang up to say “Mon, that Leonard Cohen, he be cool mon. he be the Bob Marley of Canada.”

I am in accord with Michael, who concludes “I have never heard Leonard described so brilliantly.”

Bob Marley photo by Eddie / monosnaps

Note: Originally posted Jan 19, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Now Online: Leonard Cohen Interviewed By Danny Fields At The Chelsea Hotel, 1974

Danny Fields’ interview of Leonard Cohen was originally published as Leonard Cohen Looks at Himself in the Soho Weekly News, Vol. 1, #9. Dec 5, 1974. It is now available online at Leonard Cohen Interviewed By Danny Fields At The Chelsea Hotel, 1974 (PleaseKillMe.com: January 18, 2018)

This piece is redolent with Leonard Cohen gems. Ongoing Cohencentric readers may recognize several quotations from this piece, including

It’s a treat: Leonard Cohen Interviewed By Danny Fields At The Chelsea Hotel, 1974