“Leonard Cohen’s Montreal flat wears the unclutter of a man who never quite puts away his suitcase.” Tom Chaffin (1983)


The described grandiosity [of Night Magic] contrasts harshly with the setting of our conversation – the kitchen of Cohen’s small second-story flat. Tucked away on a side street in one of east Montreal’s working-class, ethnic enclaves, the apartment, two rooms and a kitchen, could have been lifted straight from the text of a Leonard Cohen song (“That’s what everybody says when they come here”). Fake oriental carpets cover grey floorboards. Ceilings are low, the walls white and bare except for a few prints. Furnishings are sparse – no bric-a-brac here, no book-lined shelves. There are worktables in the front room; a brass bed, a dresser, a chair in the bedroom; a wooden table with two chairs in the kitchen…

Cohen’s Montreal flat wears the unclutter of a man who never quite puts away his suitcase. This tidy perch, with its unopened boxes in the hallway, is, after all, just one shard of a life spent between countries and continents. Cohen considers his small stucco house on the Great island of [Hydra], which he purchased for $1,500 in 1960, his most permanent abode. Modest like his Montreal flat, and a similar one in Los Angeles, it has had running water and electricity only for the last few years.


From Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin. Canadian Forum: August/September 1983. Photo by Lilian Graziani.

Note: This is an outstanding interview that makes for rewarding reading. It is saturated with significant Cohen quotations on performing concerts, Montreal, poetry, politics, songwriting, and housecleaning, all of which are available at the link.

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 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

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