1985 Video Interview: Leonard Cohen On His Lifting Of Lines From Ibsen And The Difference Between Singers & Writers, Pessimism & Seriousness

In this brief question and answer session, Leonard compares singers and writers (“They seem to be part of the same racket”), touches on pessimism and seriousness (“We live in a butcher shop”), and confesses to having “lifted” the notion of a self being an onion with layers covering its nonexistent core from Ibsen’s Peer Gynt to produce these lines for Wishing Window from Night Magic:

Your famous heart is like an onion,
All layers and layers of wild distress
All gathered into rings round nothingness.

The interview, from the NRK Archive, also includes a performance of Suzanne from the February 6, 1985 Oslo concert. Tore Johannessen’s interview with Leonard Cohen, first broadcast February 9, 1985, can be accessed at

NRK: Johannessen-Cohen Interview

Thanks to Gordana Stupar, who alerted me to this interview.

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 Sep 1, 2016.

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