Monday, June 4, 2012

How Leonard Cohen Charms Women…Lesson 1

Jon Pareles of The New York Times tells this story about his lunch with Leonard Cohen:

"I’ve been working on this lyric for about a year now," he says. "I wanted it to have the feel of an old folk song." In the measured, sonorous bass that has drawn loyal listeners since the 1960’s, he intones:

No matter if the road is long
No matter if it’s steep
No matter if the moon is gone
and the darkness is complete
No matter if we lose our way, 
it’s written that we’ll meet, 
At least that’s what I heard you say
a thousand kisses deep.

He’s having a light lunch - spring rolls, salad, tea - in the elegant downstairs tearoom of Takashimaya, on Fifth Avenue. With his black suit, close-cropped iron-gray hair and large features, the Montreal-born Mr. Cohen, 61, could be a calm hit man or a dapper monk. Tables are close together, and the woman at the next one leans closer to hear Mr. Cohen’s verses. When he notices, he turns to her, stares deep into her eyes, and continues:

I’ll find you though you climb
the very heights of failure peak, 
I’ll lift you from the midst
of your invincible defeat, 
But hold me when the darkness sings
and when our faith is weak
We’ll bathe together in those springs
a thousand kisses deep.

He has charmed the woman. “Are you the author?” she asks. “Has that been published?”

“It doesn’t exist yet on paper,” Mr. Cohen says. “I’m just in the midst of it, but you’re very kind to be so receptive to it. The poem will appear somewhere, God willing.”

“Do you have a publisher?” the woman persists.

“I’m a songwriter,” Mr. Cohen says, “and there’s an album coming out of different artists who are doing my songs. It’s called ‘Tower of Song’.” (The album was released in late September by A & M Records.)

“What kind of music is it?”

Mr. Cohen considers the question. “It’s, um, ballads,” he says gravely.

“Your voice is music enough,” the woman says. “You know, you seem to be very romantic, but with your head not screwed on tight. Does it get you into trouble?”

“Continually,” Mr. Cohen replies, with the smile of someone who enjoys his troubles.

From “At Lunch with Leonard Cohen” by Jon Pareles, The New York Times, October 11, 1995.

Read more of this story and others on The Leonard Cohen Files.


  1. leonardcohenminute posted this