MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

Leonard Cohen: A Final Interview

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A few days ago, Leonard Cohen, one of the finest poets and songwriters of our times, passed away at the age of 82. But just before he died, about a month ago, David Remnick of The New Yorker interviewed him.

I was shocked and saddened by the news of his death. I didn’t know that he was very sick, because he wanted to keep his illness private, until today when I listened to David Remnick’s interview.

At one point in the interview he said:

I’m ready to die. I just hope that it’s not uncomfortable.

Poignant though the interview was, it was always accompanied by Cohen’s self-deprecating humor.

Cohen always found comfort in his religion; he was a practicing Jew. Since he was a child, he always carried within himself a sense of God’s presence. And he felt that, every now and then, God spoke to him. At one point in the interview, Cohen said that God was still speaking to him. But he was no longer the harsh, judgmental and vindictive God of his youth.

Towards the end of his life he found a compassionate and merciful God.

Since the early 70s he also practiced Zen meditation. In the mid-90s he stayed in a Zen monastery. He only left the monastery 7 years ago when he found out that his manager defrauded him of his lifetime savings. Left with almost nothing for his retirement and his kids, he decided to work again. He published his first book of poems after 20 years. Then proceeded to tour, performing in sold-out concerts for the 4 next years.

At any rate, he suffered from debilitating pain due to his illness. Unable to take his pain killing medicines, his Zen practice came in handy. He was able to cope with his pain through meditation, enabling him to work on and finish his last album, You Want It Darker, which I consider his parting gift to each of us.

If you’re interested to listen to David Remnick’s interview please click this link:

Leonard Cohen: A Final Interview


Written by MattAndJojang

November 12, 2016 at 8:08 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I hadn’t heard the interview. It is poignant, but also inspirational. Like Cohen’s music, it’s also worth listening to more than once. Thanks for sharing it here.


    November 13, 2016 at 8:29 am

  2. You’re welcome, Linda.

    The interview was indeed poignant. He was very sick when Cohen did it. But, listening to the interview, I got the the sense that he already had come to terms with his mortality. Also, I had the same impression when I listened to his final album “You Want It Darker.” The way he talks about God and about tying the loose ends of his life further reinforces this impression.

    But even in his last days, in spite of being physically weak and suffering great pain, he thought of other people – his family and friends. David Resnick also remarked in the interview that he was extremely solicitous of their needs and made sure they were comfortable. That made an impression on me, too.

    We all know how struggled in his life — the failed relationships, the alcohol and drug addiction, the severe depression — but through it all he lived his life as gracefully as he can and treated the people around him with kindness.

    He’s a class act indeed. He’s not only a great poet and songwriter, but a great human being as well.



    November 14, 2016 at 11:24 am

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