What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

The video for this story is not available, but you can still read the transcript below.
No image

Songwriter Leonard Cohen Discusses Fame, Poetry and Getting Older

The NewsHour's poetry series looks at iconic writer and poet Leonard Cohen who discusses the difference between writing a song and a poem, and explains why "Out of the thousands who are known or want to be known as poets, maybe one or two are genuine and the rest are fakes."

Read the Full Transcript

  • (singing):

    Now Suzanne takes her hand and she leads you to the river.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Maybe Leonard Cohen can't sing like an angel, and maybe he's ambivalent about the title "poet," but for decades a legion of fans has memorized his words and other musicians have loved to perform his songs.

  • LEONARD COHEN (singing):

    I have tried, in my way, to be free.

    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. Everybody knows that the war is over.

    Everybody knows the good guys lost…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In poetry, novels, and, most of all, a host of recordings, Cohen has been the romantic and seeker, solitary, at times reclusive, once youthful, now aging, able to express complex ideas and emotions with language, even in a three-minute rhyming song.

  • LEONARD COHEN:

    My heart is filled with gratitude.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And his 71st year is proving to be a special one. In February, Cohen, who was born in Montreal, was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

  • LEONARD COHEN:

    If I knew where the good songs came from, I'd go there more often.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    A new documentary on him has just been released, featuring a performance with rock superstars, U2.

  • LEONARD COHEN (singing):

    'Cause you can say that I've grown bitter, but of this you may be sure. The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor. And there's a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong.