Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Interview with Leonard Cohen

Some celebrities are terrible interview subjects--Marlon Brando comes to mind. But others are both gracious and interesting. Leonard Cohen tends to be in this group. I recall an interview I saw with him on Canadian television many, many years ago in which the interviewer, posing one of those awkward questions that they do, asked Cohen to comment on his reputation for being a pessimist. His reply, and one of my favorite quotes, was, "a pessimist is someone who thinks it is going to rain--I'm soaked to the skin."

I just ran across a fairly recent interview with him in his home in Montréal:

There are not many people that we can listen to and come away with the sense that they are truly wise. I think Leonard Cohen is one of those. You have to love an interview subject who, in answer to one awkward question, just sings a verse of "Je ne regrette rien."

There is a wonderful moment right at the end when the interview is over but the cameras are still rolling. The interviewer confesses that he was asking so much about death because it terrifies him. Cohen just answers as he did before, but what is interesting is that it was probably Cohen's wise presence that led the interviewer to come out and be so candid. Artists of the kind that Leonard Cohen is are rare people and we really do have need of them.

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