Leonard Cohen: NOT The Canadian Bob Dylan
In 1966, Leonard Cohen introduced Bob Dylan’s music to a group of the preeminent Canadian poets, including F.R. Scott, A.J.M. Smith, Leonard’s friend Layton Irving, his McGill professor Louis Dudek, Al Purdy, and Ralph Gustafson. The response was not encouraging – although a replay at 10 PM did result in dancing.
Q: Back in the ’60s, there was talk of you being a Canadian Bob Dylan. Didn’t you make that analogy yourself at the time?
No. That got into the press. I’d never say that any more than I’d say I want to be the next William Yeats or the next Bliss Carman. You know how that arose? There was a party at Frank Scott’s house. I had a record of Bob Dylan, and I brought it to this party. There were all these poets, Layton, and Dudek and maybe Phyllis Webb. It was probably Bringing it All Back Home. It was one of his early records I said, fellas, listen to this. This guy’s a real poet. I put the record on, and it was greeted with yawns. They said, ‘That’s not a poet.’ I said, ‘No, I insist, let me play it again.’ They said, ‘Do you want to be that?’ That’s how it arose. But it’s not my syntax. Anyway, they didn’t like it. But I put it on a few more times, and by the end of evening they were dancing.1
Q: You said that an audience brings a lot to someone like Bob Dylan. They bring a lot to you as well.
Yes they do. As I said in the concert, this is every musician’s dream, to stand in front of an audience and not have to prove your credentials, to come into that warmth. Of course, it creates other anxieties, because you really want to deliver. There’s a lot to live up to. But it is quite a rare thing.2
The following excerpt is from Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira B. Nadel (Random House of Canada: Oct 29, 2010)
I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Oct 15, 2016.