[Interviewer:] You’re obviously very close with the Cohen family. Leonard is such a revered figure in music. There are no gods among us, but if there were, Leonard Cohen would be one of them…
[Rufus Wainwright:] (Laughs) Demigod, for sure!
[Interviewer:] May I ask, how did you become close with the Cohens?
[Rufus Wainwright:] We’re all from Montreal. I didn’t know them in Montreal, at all. I mean, I had met Leonard’s daughter once when I was a teenager in Montreal. But it really was when I came to Los Angeles to make my first album that, you know, I needed some friends and there was someone else—my friend Melissa, who used to be in the band Hole, she was playing with Courtney Love, and she knew Lorca, Leonard’s daughter, and she introduced us. We just immediately bonded the minute we met and became very close very fast. And that lasted. Finally, here we are today. I met Leonard during that period. What was nice—I knew he was great and I appreciated his work. I wasn’t that familiar with it because I’d become seriously obsessed with opera. That was my main squeeze. That’s really most of the music that I would listen to. So, songwriters didn’t really do it for me. It’s not that I didn’t like them; I just didn’t know their music. And I think, in a weird way, Leonard appreciated that. He didn’t feel like I was out to get anything from him. I think that’s been often the case with me and certain famous people. I wasn’t this sort of rabid sycophantic figure, though I certainly appreciated what they did, which you have to do. But I was just stuck in my opera world, which made me really unusual.
From Rufus Wainwright on “Unfollow the Rules,” the Pandemic, and How Opera Music Saved His Life by Jake Uitti (Under the Radar: May 04, 2020). Photo atop post by Bruce Baker – ,Flickr. CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.