Top Ten Favorite Leonard Cohen Quotations

Introduction: I am republishing selected posts from Cohencentric (my former Leonard Cohen site) here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Sept 9, 2018 and is based on voting by Leonard Cohen fans that took place the preceding week. Note: These quotations are from Leonard’s interviews, introductions to songs at concerts, award acceptance speeches, correspondence, etc. Lines from his songs, poems, or novels were not eligible.


10. What happened to me was not that I got any answers, but that the questions dissolved. [Leonard Cohen on his time with Ramesh Balsekar]

From Leonard Cohen: Remembering the Life and Legacy of the Poet of Brokenness by Mikal Gilmore (Rolling Stone: 30 November 2016)

9. [Leonard Cohen’s advice for success with women:] Listen well. Then listen some more. And when you think you are done listening. listen some more.

From What I Learned from My Wise Uncle Leonard Cohen by Jonathan Greenberg (Sonoma Independent: November 14, 2016).

8. There is no point in trying to forestall the apocalypse. The bomb has already gone off. We are now living in the midst of its aftermath. The question is: How can we live with this knowledge with grace and kindness?

From Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents by Mikal Gilmore. Simon and Schuster, Nov 11, 2008. The interview with Cohen from which this quotation is drawn took place in 1988.

7. I’m very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says “Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek” has got to be a figure of unparallelled generosity and insight and madness…A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion.

From Leonard Cohen In His Own Words by Jim Devlin.

6. I’ve also studied deeply in the philosophies and religions, but cheerfulness kept breaking through.

From 2008 Tour stage banter.

5. The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show.

From Leonard Cohen Returns to the Road, for Reasons Both Practical and Spiritual by Larry Rohter. New York Times: Feb 24, 2009.

4. To keep our hearts open is probably the most urgent responsibility you have as you get older.

From Leonard Cohen Interviewed by Anjelica Huston. Interview magazine: November, 1995.

3. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say ‘Look, I don’t understand a fucking thing at all – Hallelujah!

From How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns by John McKenna. RTE: May 9 & 12, 1988.

2. I don’t consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin.

From a 1992 French TV interview.

1. The real weapons of mass destruction are the hardened hearts of humanity.

From First & Last (Norwegian TV show) March, 2007.

5 thoughts on “Top Ten Favorite Leonard Cohen Quotations

  1. Great Allan, your new presentations of selected posts here from the former Cohencentric …

    By presenting basically the same information a little different now,
    I get a slightly different perception on Leonard’s work and I feel that’s valuable (for all of us), thanks !

  2. Thankyou….I love and so respect personal thoughts and views of our fellow citizens!!! Who knew!? I so await a new curious adventure …………who knows?! Only the…… !!!!! In the meantime……we have……”Latest News Of The Day”…………. . Which, honestly, I would not miss and absorb the good……

  3. I love your work Allan. I would love to have tour explanation and words that LC has spoken. Not good at typing, old fingers…Is there any way I can get these excerps you have chosen.. in book or eddays that reflect his thoughts and the most treasured word to explaine his views..
    Let me know Allan, please, I am filled with hope when I read his words.

    Thank You,

    Charlotte Cohn

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