Leonard Cohen: A Last Interview

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Leonard Cohen, who died this week, was one of the world’s greatest songwriters—he is a figure of almost cult-like devotion to generations of fans, among them Bob Dylan. Cohen began as a poet in the vein of Allen Ginsberg and Frank O’Hara before releasing his first album, in 1967. Neither alcohol nor drugs seemed to calm his terrible anxiety, but he seemed to conquer his fear of performing onstage after decades of Zen practice. David Remnick sat down with Cohen this past summer at the musician’s home in Los Angeles to discuss Cohen’s career, his spiritual influences, his triumphant final tours, and what he was doing to prepare for his end. “I am ready to die,” Cohen said. He was already suffering from a number of health problems. “At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.”

 

Remnick's profile of Leonard Cohen in The New Yorker is called "How the Light Gets In"