Photo By Guido Harari: Leonard Cohen Abed With Baggage – Milan 1989

Guido Harari’s unique photos of Leonard Cohen feature the Canadian singer-songwriter in poses and settings that are unusual and unexpected but somehow apt and relevant. The results are sometimes striking, sometimes amusing, and sometimes provocative, but always revealing. Happily, Guido Harari has graciously given Cohencentric permission to post these images, some of which are among my personal favorites. (This photo is also featured on The Back Cover of Das Lieblingsspiel [The Favourite Game] 2011.)

This photo of Cohen and his bags (Milan, 1989) is not only a telling portrait but also offers an interesting array of identifiable items Cohen carried on his travels (e.g., guitar strings, notebooks, cigarettes, matches) .

In addition, it seems likely that it is the same bag described in the following extract from Len by Jon Wilde (Blitz: February 1988):

A tall man in a black suit suddenly approaches our table and hands Len a small black travel bag. Len lets out a huge sigh of relief. The man bows and disappears.

What’s that then, Len?

“I left it in the car last night. It’s got everything. My tattoo.”

You’ve got your tattoo in your bag?

“It’s one of those stick-on ones, a big snake, a present for my daughter. Here’s my airplane tickets. Cheque books. A picture of my girlfriend.”

Can I have a gander, Len?

“Sure. I took it myself.”

Very beautiful. What’s that bit of paper there?

“That’s my AIDS test result. Negative. It’s good to carry that around. ‘Hi, I’m Leonard, here’s my card!’ It’s like being let out of prison, getting one of those.”

And, ongoing readers may recall that book in the upper right of the back cover, Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin (1987), from this quotation from  About Those Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Can’t Forget Album: Joan of Arc – Part 1 [bolding mine]:

Interviewer: Joan of Arc was a soldier, a mold breaker. She was too, a girl adrift in a political world she didn’t fully understand or embrace. Cohen’s song about her concentrates on the human being, the uncertain one behind the armour. He views her as a woman pursued by fire until eventually, inevitably, that fire is her consuming passion. Cohen’s Joan is alone in her tent, the army dependent on her clarity of mind; a nation tied to her strategy. And what we find in that tent is a woman without interest in the war. Her armour no longer bright, without a man to get her through the night. She craves a wedding dress, something white, something at odds with the fighting about her. So, is Leonard Cohen saying a woman ultimately needs a man to be fulfilled?

Leonard Cohen: I was thinking more of this sense of a destiny that human beings have and how they meet and marry their destiny, how ultimately there is, you know, a male or a minus-plus, however you want to put it, you know a positive-negative yin-yang, male-female; that there is this connection that we have with our – with the unfolding of our lives. I don’t want to suggest in that song that what she really wanted to be was a housewife. What I mean to say is that as lonely and as solitudinous as she was she had to meet and be embraced by her destiny. That’s all I mean by that imagery, because – I’ve just been reading a lot about Joan of Arc again – she continues to fascinate me that woman, and seen from the point of view of the woman’s movement she really does stand for something stunningly original and courageous. There’s a great chapter about her in Andrea Dworkin’s book, Intercourse. It’s a grand chapter on Joan of Arc and really a passionate evocation of what her real achievement was at the time to by-pass everything and to go right into the centre of activity. So I don’t mean to suggest that she really wanted a wedding ring and some kids and day-care.1

This and other Guido Harari photos of Leonard Cohen can be found (and purchased) at the Wall Of Sound Gallery site

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted June 17, 2015.

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