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Leonard Cohen on Moonlight

“I don’t feel any compulsion just to stand under the spotlight night after night unless I have something to say“ - Leonard Cohen

AIRED: November 15, 2016 | 0:05:34

(electronic music)

(audio tape rewinding)

(slow pensive music)

I don't feel any compulsion

just to stand under the spotlight

night after night or year after year

unless I have something to say

or something new to disclose about my own work.

(slow pensive music)

- Would you read Two Slept Together?

Okay, I don't have it here, do you have it?

Two went to sleep

almost every night.

One dreamed of mud,

one dreamed of Asia,

visiting a zeppelin,

visiting Nijinsky.

Two went to sleep.

One dreamed of ribs,

one dreamed of senators.

Two went to sleep,

two travelers.

The long marriage

in the dark.

The sleep was old,

the travelers were old.

One dreamed of oranges,

one dreamed of Carthage.

Two friends asleep,

years locked in travel.

Good night my darling.

As the dreams waved goodbye,

one traveled lightly,

one walked through water,

visiting a chess game,

visiting a booth,

always returning,

to wait out the day.

One carried matches,

one climbed a beehive,

one sold an earphone,

one shot a German.

Two went to sleep,

every sleep went together,

wandering away

from an operating table.

One dreamed of grass,

one dreamed of spokes,

one bargained nicely,

one was a snowman,

one counted medicine,

one tasted pencils,

one was a child,

one was a traitor,

visiting heavy industry,

visiting the family.

Two went to sleep,

none could foretell

one went with baskets,

one took a ledger,

one night happy,

one night in terror.

Love could not bind them.

Fear could not either.

They went unconnected,

they never knew where,

always returning,

to wait out the day.

Parting with kissing,

parting with yawns,

visiting Death till

they wore out their welcome.

Visiting Death till

the right disguise worked.

(slow soft guitar music)

- [Kathleen] Would you relate the story

of the Sisters of Mercy again?

♪ All the sisters of mercy

I was in Edmonton doing a tour by myself.

Canada, I guess this was around '67.

And I was walking along one of the main streets of Edmonton.

It was bitter cold.

And I knew no one.

And I passed these two girls in a doorway.

And they invited me to stand in the doorway with them.

Of course I did.

Sometime later we found ourselves in my little hotel room

in Edmonton, and the three of us

were going to go to sleep together.

Of course I had all kinds of erotic fantasies

of what the evening might bring.

And we went to bed together

and I think we all jammed into

this one small couch in this little hotel.

And it became clear that

that wasn't the purpose of the evening at all.

And at one point in the night

I found myself unable to sleep.

I got up, and by the moonlight, it was very, very bright.

The moon was being reflected off the snow.

I wrote that poem by the ice-reflected moonlight,

while these women were sleeping.

And it was one of the few songs I ever wrote

from top to bottom without a line of revision.

The words flowed and the melody flowed

and by the time they woke up the next morning, it was dawn,

I had this completed song to sing for them.

(soft rock music)

I'm always pleased when somebody sings a song of mine.

In fact I never get over that initial rush of happiness

when someone says they're going to sing a song of mine.

I always like it.

- [Kathleen] Do you think they all do a good job of it?

Is there any particularly liked?

- [Leonard] I like the way Judy Collins

does some of my songs.

I can't honestly say that I've heard my songs

done in the way that totally satisfies me.

I think with the exception of

perhaps "Suzanne" by Judy Collins.

But I don't know if there's really versions of the songs

that strike my the way that I would like to be struck.

Not that my own are that way either.

- [Kathleen] It's okay?

- [Leonard] It's okay.

You know, because a song enters the world

and it gets changed like everything else.

It's okay as long as there are more authentic versions.

A good song, I think, will get changed.

(soft rock music)

(tape rewinding)

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