Leonard Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 in Montreal, Quebec Canada.
He took to writing poetry at an early age. After graduating with a Bachelor of arts degree at McGill University in 1955, he published his first book of poetry called Let Us Compare Mythologies in 1956. He would purchase a home on the Greek island of Hydra where he would write 3 collections of poetry The Favourite Game in 1963 Flowers for Hitler in 1964, and Beautiful Losers in 1966.
Without much financial success Cohen would move to New York to pursue a music career. After performing at a few folk festivals famed Columbia Records exec John Hammond who signed Bob Dylan in 1961 did the same for Leonard.
In quick succession Leonard would produce songs for Leonard Cohen, (1967) Songs For A Room (1969) and Songs of Love and Hate (1970).
He would then tour for the first time throughout Canada, the United States and Europe and continue this touring for three years.
Then in 1974 Cohen would meet an important young musician and producer
John Lissauer (Liss-hour) that produced Cohen’s landmark record New Skin For the Old Ceremony in 1974.
It is on this tour that Leonard Cohen did an interview with Pacifica Radio WBAI producer Kathleen Kendel on December 4th, 1974.
It should be noted that as Leonard Cohen mentions his friendship with musician Judy Collins, Collins had a show on Pacifica Radio WBAI called simply The Judy Collins show in at least 1965.
Pacifica Historical Moment…!!!
The Leonard Cohen interview as a whole is amazing because of how early it was in his career and how intelligent and compelling the line of questioning was by Kathleen Kendel, but a few things stand out in this interview.
1. 1974 was basically at ground zero in the middle of the second wave of Feminism, and Kathleen Kendel takes the opportunity to engage Leonard Cohen on the possibility of sexism in his song Joan of Arc. The questions stirs Cohen to a thoughtful response.
2. Lenoard Cohen reads from an unpublished manuscript which I had to research to find out what it was by searching one line of poetry that I like which goes…”I won’t accuse you of ruining your absence.”
I discovered that it was a poem called The Unclean Start (an early working version that would be changed before printing) and would be contained in a future book of poetry called Death of a Ladys’ Man… and it was published by a boutique publisher in Canada 1978 and in New York and London on Viking/Penguin in 1979..
That means we have Leonard Cohen reading his own poetry from a not yet published manuscript 4 years before publication (5 years before US publication)…!!!
3. Interviewer Kathleen Kendel prompts Cohen to read an amazing poem Two Went To Sleep from his FIRST book of poetry…!!! Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956)