Interviews with Leonard Cohen

Published June 26, 2006 7:09PM (EDT)

As anyone who has seen the just-released documentary "I'm Your Man" can attest, Leonard Cohen may not be able to sing his way out of a paper bag, but he can speak circles around almost anyone. Elliptical, poetic and sardonic, the 71-year-old writer, musician and cult icon speaks candidly about his life and work in an interview (Real, 45:51) conducted this past May by Terry Gross for National Public Radio. Speaking in his inimitable low growl, Cohen provides insight into his writing process, the years he spent as a Buddhist monk and the real-life circumstances behind his work. Speaking about the "Famous Blue Raincoat" that inspired one of his best-known songs, Cohen remembers: "It was a very impressive raincoat. I'd never seen anything like it -- I think I bought it in London -- and it always resided in my memory as glamorous possibility that I never quite realized. It began to stand for that unassailable romantic life; the opposite of a cloak of invisibility, the garment that would lead you to marvelous erotic and intellectual adventures. So that's what the symbol was. I think." Canada's CBC also has an archive of Cohen interviews -- for both TV and radio -- here (Windows Media).

-- David Marchese

By Salon Staff

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