Leonard Cohen on the Wisdom of the Young…and Old
“Looking coldly and savagely at your own work, as you have to when putting an anthology or compilation together, you have to really think what’s good and what’s crap. Was I any good? I think there’s stuff I did when I was 15 that was pretty good. I forget the stuff that didn’t work, conveniently, but as an example: in the first book I did, when I was about 20, there’s stuff like ‘I heard of a man who says words so beautifully that if he only speaks their names women give themselves to him / If I am still beside your body while silence blossoms like a tumour on your lips it is because I hear a man climb stairs and clear his throat outside your door.’ Not bad for a youngster eh? Sometimes I think it was all downhill from there. You see I’ve never thought that the young aren’t wise. There is a specific wisdom that belongs to the younger man, just like there’s a specific wisdom to the 58 year-old man. There are ages to life, and there’s a genius to every age.”
Leonard Cohen talking about his book Stranger Music in “Heavy Cohen” by Cliff Jones, Rock CD, December 1992.