123+ Best Leonard Cohen Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Leonard Norman Cohen CC GOQ was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet, and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, depression, loss, death and romantic relationships. Profoundly inspirational Leonard Cohen quotes will encourage you to think a little deeper than you usually would and broaden your perspective.

If you’re searching for inspiring quotes by greatest musicians that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of profound Louis Armstrong quotes, amazing Nina Simone quotes and top Luke Bryan quotes.

Famous Leonard Cohen Quotes

In dreams the truth is learned that all good works are done in the absence of a caress. – Leonard Cohen

Love is the only engine of survival. – Leonard Cohen

I always loved those little creatures [hummingbird], always feel blessed when they appear nearby. There’s a magical quality to them. I finally put one in a song. – Leonard Cohen

If you’re squeezed for information, / that’s when you’ve got to play it dumb: / You just say you’re out there waiting / for the miracle, for the miracle to come. – Leonard Cohen

And may my bronze name / touch always her thousand fingers / grow brighter with her weeping / until I am fixed like a galaxy / and memorized / in her secret and fragile skies. – Leonard Cohen

When you’re younger, you do have that thing that you were talking about where the mouth goes dry. I mean you have reactions, and you do fall in love. – Leonard Cohen

I think that all the spiritual training is just to be able to allow you to experience this from a slightly different perspective – one that’s a little more stabilized. – Leonard Cohen

I’ll be marching through the morning, Marching through the night, Moving ‘cross the borders Of My Secret Life. – Leonard Cohen

I don’t think you can write novels on the road. You need a certain stability. – Leonard Cohen

We are awakening from the dream of isolation, from the dream of loneliness, and it’s a terrible shock. – Leonard Cohen

History is a needle for putting men asleep anointed with the poison Of all they want to keep. – Leonard Cohen

I felt like if any two people had any kind of sexual affinity for each other they had to sleep with each other immediately, otherwise it was a terrible betrayal and waste…Fortunately, I’m relieved of those obsessions now. It’s really wonderful. It’s really wonderful not feeling you have to sleep with everybody. – Leonard Cohen

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich / Thats how it goes / Everybody knows. – Leonard Cohen

I wish I could say everything in one word. I hate all the things that can happen between the beginning of a sentence and the end. – Leonard Cohen

I cannot understand why my arm is not a lilac tree. – Leonard Cohen

The wars they will be fought again The holy dove be caught again bought and sold and bought again; the dove is never free. – Leonard Cohen

When we are touched by a song, it is because the artist cannot hide himself. – Leonard Cohen

I listen to the radio and I like all kinds of music, you know, but I like to hear from people who have been there. Hank Williams has been there. – Leonard Cohen

It’s the notion that there is no perfection – that there is a broken world and we live with broken hearts and broken lives but still there is no alibi for anything. On the contrary, you have to stand up and say hallelujah under those circumstances. – Leonard Cohen

Rust rust rust in the engines of love and time. – Leonard Cohen

I don’t know which side is anybody on any more. I don’t really care. There is a moment when we have to transcend the side we’re on and understand that we are creatures of a higher order. – Leonard Cohen

GIFT You tell me that silence is nearer to peace than poems but if for my gift I brought you silence (for I know silence) you would say This is not silence this is another poem and you would hand it back to me – Leonard Cohen

I do cherish those moments when I can just relax in the hotel room. Because there are a lot of details that have to be taken care of aside from just getting up onstage. You’re dealing with a number of human beings whose well-being and safety you’re concerned about. There are people I like to meet and talk to in the crew and the band. – Leonard Cohen

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded, Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed, Everybody knows that the war is over, Everybody knows the good guys lost. – Leonard Cohen

If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem. – Leonard Cohen

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove Dance me to the end of love. – Leonard Cohen

Coroner’s inquest: death by drowning. And he hasn’t been to the sea-shore in ten years. – Leonard Cohen

Growing old becomes clear to you at a certain point. I think it’s after the age of 70 you realize – you begin to actually be convinced – you’re growing older. – Leonard Cohen

In the broken places, the light shines through. – Leonard Cohen

When things get really bad, just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig. That’s about all you can do. – Leonard Cohen

The candles burned The moon went down The polished hill The milky town Transparent, weightless, luminous Uncovering the two of us On that fundamental ground Where love’s unwilled, unleashed, unbound And half the perfect world is found. – Leonard Cohen

No one’s ever done one of my songs badly. People say to me, God, so-and-so wrecked that song. Well, I’m unaware of it. Anybody doing one of my tunes has earned my gratitude, and I don’t get that many covers where I have the luxury to choose. – Leonard Cohen

Women stand for the objective world for a man. They stand for the thing that you’re not and that’s what you always reach for in a song. – Leonard Cohen

I’ve forgotten most of what I’ve read and, frankly, it never seemed very important to me or to the world. – Leonard Cohen

A man never got a woman back… not by begging on his knees. – Leonard Cohen

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

Well, I’ve been waiting, I was sure we’d meet between the trains we’re waiting for I think it’s time to board another Please understand, I never had a secret chart to get me to the heart of this or any other matter – Leonard Cohen

We are not mad. We are human.We want to love, and someone must forgive us for the paths we take to love, for the paths are many and dark, and we are ardent and cruel in our journey. – Leonard Cohen

The Maestro says it’s Mozart but it sounds like bubble gum when you’re waiting for the miracle to come. – Leonard Cohen

We are so lightly here. It is in love that we are made. In love we disappear. – Leonard Cohen

Let judges secretly despair of justice: their verdicts will be more acute. Let generals secretly despair of triumph; killing will be defamed. Let priests secretly despair of faith: their compassion will be true. – Leonard Cohen

We’ve got to temper anything we say with that. On the other hand, you’ve got to be serious about what you do. And you’ve got to understand the price you pay for frivolity or just for greed – it’s a very high price, especially if you’re involved in this sacred material, which is about the human heart and human desire and human tragedy. – Leonard Cohen

It is painful to recall a past intensity, to estimate your distance from the Belsen heap, to make your peace with numbers. Just to get up each morning is to make a kind of peace. – Leonard Cohen

People used to say my music was too difficult or too obscure, and I never set out to be difficult or obscure. I just set out to write what I felt as honestly as I could, and I am delighted when other people feel a part of themselves in the music. – Leonard Cohen

We all need that experience of forgetting who you are. Forgetting who you are is such a delicious experience and so frightening that we’re in this conflicted predicament. – Leonard Cohen

I loved you when you opened like a lily to the heat; you see I’m just another snowman standing in the rain and sleet who loved you with his frozen love, his second hand physique, with all he is and all he was a thousand kisses deep. – Leonard Cohen

And most people have a woman in their heart, most men have a woman in their heart and most women have a man in their heart. – Leonard Cohen

It’s coming to America first, The cradle of the best and of the worst. It’s here they got the range And the machinery for change And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst. It’s here the family’s broken And it’s here the lonely say That the heart has got to open In a fundamental way: Democracy is coming to the U.S.A. O mighty Ship of State! To the Shores of Need Past the Reefs of Greed Through the Squalls of Hate Sail on, sail on. – Leonard Cohen

Never make a decision when you need to pee. – Leonard Cohen

Maybe there’s a god above but the only thing I learned from love was how to shoot at somebody who outdrew you. – Leonard Cohen

Undertow I set out one night When the tide was low There were signs in the sky But I did not know I’d be caught in the grip Of the undertow Ditched on a beach Where the sea hates to go With a child in my arms And a chill in my soul And my heart the shape Of a begging bowl – Leonard Cohen

i would like to remind the management that the drinks are watered and the hat-check girl has syphilis and the band is composed of former ss monsters However since it is new year’s eve and i have lip cancer i will place my paper hat on my concussion and dance – Leonard Cohen

My interest in this pack of failures betrays my character. – Leonard Cohen

Do not believe the truth. The truth is tiny compared to what you have to do. – Leonard Cohen

Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows. – Leonard Cohen

My sense of proprietorship has been so weak that actually I didn’t pay attention and I lost the copyrights on a lot of the songs. – Leonard Cohen

The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show. – Leonard Cohen

Today [people] are ready to take emergency cures, whatever they are, if it’s violence, if it’s a fascination with serial killing or whatever – the discomfort is so intense. Maybe it’s always been like that, certainly it is now. – Leonard Cohen

A sip of wine, a cigarette, And then it’s time to go. I tidied up the kitchenette; I tuned the old banjo. I’m wanted at the traffic-jam. They’re saving me a seat. – Leonard Cohen

Reality is one of the possibilities I cannot afford to ignore. – Leonard Cohen

The big change is the proximity to death. – Leonard Cohen

I turned my back on the devil, turned my back on the angel too. – Leonard Cohen

Get ready for the future: it is murder. – Leonard Cohen

I don’t trust my inner feelings, inner feelings come and go. – Leonard Cohen

May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if this is not your lot, may the blessings find you in your solitude. – Leonard Cohen

This particular school of Zen has always considered itself the Marines of the spiritual world, so it has a kind of bias against conceptual thinking in favor of a very rigorous physical life. – Leonard Cohen

I’ve never thought of myself as a singer anyway. . . I’ve been free from those considerations because so many people over the years told me I don’t have a voice. I kind of bought that. I never thought that much about it to begin with. I knew I didn’t have one of the great voices. As my Damon Runyanesque lawyer used to say, none of you guys can sing. If I want to hear singing, I’ll go to the Metropolitan Opera. – Leonard Cohen

I want history to jump on Canada’s spine with sharp skates. – Leonard Cohen

To keep our hearts open is probably the most urgent responsibility you have as you get older. – Leonard Cohen

I always thought of myself as a competent, minor poet. I know who I’m up against. – Leonard Cohen

The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape. – Leonard Cohen

I’ve seen the future and it’s murder. – Leonard Cohen

When you call me close to tell me your body is not beautiful I want to summon the eyes and hidden mouths of stone and light and water to testify against you. – Leonard Cohen

No penance serves to renew them, no massive transfusions of trust. Why not even revenge can undo them, so twisted these vows and so crushed. – Leonard Cohen

Everyone has a kind of magical system that they employ in the hopes that this will open up the channels. – Leonard Cohen

But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags that time cannot decay, I’m junk but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet: Democracy is coming to the U.S.A. – Leonard Cohen

Your body will never be familiar. – Leonard Cohen

Your servant here, he has been told to say it clear, to say it cold: It’s over, it ain’t going any further And now the wheels of heaven stop you feel the devil’s riding crop Get ready for the future: it is murder. – Leonard Cohen

Garages, barns and attics are always older than the buildings to which they are attached. – Leonard Cohen

Follow me, the wise man said, but he walked behind. – Leonard Cohen

I lit a thin green candle to make you jealous of me, but the room just filled up with mosquitoes. – Leonard Cohen

Why don’t you try to do without him, why don’t you try to live alone? Do you really need his hands for your passion? Do you really need his heart for your throne? Do you need his labor for your baby? Do you need his beast for the bone? Do you need to hold a leash to be a lady? I know that you can make it, you can make it on your own. – Leonard Cohen

A woman watches her body uneasily, as though it were an unreliable ally in the battle for love. – Leonard Cohen

Ring the bells that still can ring. – Leonard Cohen

I told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you. – Leonard Cohen

The cutting of the gem has to be finished before you can see whether it shines. – Leonard Cohen

I almost went to bed without remembering the four white violets I put in the button-hole of your green sweater and how i kissed you then and you kissed me shy as though I’d never been your lover – Leonard Cohen

How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me? – Leonard Cohen

I’ve seen the nations rise and fall. I’ve heard their stories, heard them all, but love’s the only engine of survival. – Leonard Cohen

Suzanne had a room on a waterfront street in the port of Montreal. Everything happened just as it was put down. She was the wife of a man I knew. Her hospitality was immaculate. Some months later I sang it for Judy Collins over the telephone. The publishing rights were lost in New York City, but it is probably appropriate that I don’t own this song. Just the other day I heard some people singing it on a ship in the Caspian Sea. – Leonard Cohen

You who build these altars now to sacrifice these children , you must not do it anymore. A scheme is not a vision and you never have been tempted by a demon or a god . – Leonard Cohen

I fought against the bottle, but I had to do it drunk. Took my diamond to the pawn shop, but that don’t make it junk. – Leonard Cohen

It’s inappropriate for an elderly chap to register, you know, authentically, his feelings, you know, because they really can be interpreted. So you have to get quite covert as you get older. Or you have to find some avuncular way, you know, of responding. – Leonard Cohen

I don’t consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin. – Leonard Cohen

This is every musician’s dream, to stand in front of an audience and not have to prove your credentials. – Leonard Cohen

You go your way I’ll go your way too. – Leonard Cohen

When it all comes down to dust I will kill you if I must , I will help you if I can. When it all comes down to dust I will help you if I must, I will kill you if I can. – Leonard Cohen

I think what we like about music – and what we like about art in general….is that enterprise that stops our minds from spinning. Because we’re always all over the place. A good song, a good lyric is a movie: it will just focus and calm and confer significance on this completely bewildering reality that all of us live in. – Leonard Cohen

Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act. – Leonard Cohen

I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair, with a love so vast and shattered it will reach you everywhere. – Leonard Cohen

Nothing can stop you from thinking. The human mind is designed to think continually. – Leonard Cohen

We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky. – Leonard Cohen

The Dream O I had such a wonderful dream, she said. I dreamed you made love to me. At last, he said to himself, the spirit has taken up some of the heavy work. – Leonard Cohen

This is the most challenging activity that humans get into, which is love. You know, where we have the sense that we can’t live without love. That life has very little meaning without love. – Leonard Cohen

If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day. – Leonard Cohen

The troubles came and I saved what I could save. A thread of light, a particle, a wave. – Leonard Cohen

And I’ll dance with you in Vienna, I’ll be wearing a river’s disguise. The hyacinth wild on my shoulder my mouth on the dew of your thighs. And I’ll bury my soul in a scrapbook, with the photographs there and the moss. And I’ll yield to the flood of your beauty, my cheap violin and my cross. – Leonard Cohen

He hated the men floating in sleep in the big stone houses. Because their lives were ordered and their rooms tidy. Because they got up every morning and did their public work. Because they weren’t going to dynamite their factories and have naked parties in the fire. – Leonard Cohen

What were the bodies like on the beach? Ugly and white and ruined by offices. – Leonard Cohen

It doesn’t matter how anything happens. – Leonard Cohen

There’s a deep tribal aspect to my own nature. So when I’m in contact with those deep resources, of course I feel a very special kind of nourishment. – Leonard Cohen

Don’t call yourself a secret unless you mean to keep it. – Leonard Cohen

I know there is an eye that watches all of us. There is a judgment that weighs everything we do. And before this great force, which is greater than any government I stand in awe and I kneel in respect and it is to this great judgment that I dedicate this next song… – Leonard Cohen

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove Dance me to the end of love – Leonard Cohen

Any startling piece of work has a subversive element in it, a delicious element often. Subversion is only disagreeable when it manifests in political or social activity. – Leonard Cohen

Some say that no one ever leaves Montreal, for that city, like Canada itself, is designed to preserve the past, a past that happened somewhere else. – Leonard Cohen

I want to be paid for my work, not work for my pay. – Leonard Cohen

Although only one man may be receiving the favors of a woman, all men in her presence are warmed. – Leonard Cohen

From bitter searching of the heart, quickened with passion and with pain we rise to play a greater part this is the faith from which we start. – Leonard Cohen

I dreamed about you baby. It was just the other night. Most of you was naked Ah, but some of you was light. – Leonard Cohen

It’s a depressing habit you have of loving to sneeze and of eating apples as if they were juicier for you and being the first one to exclaim how good the movie is. You depress people. We like apples too. – Leonard Cohen

I won’t comment on what Bob Dylan said, but I will comment on his receiving the Nobel Prize, which to me is like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain. – Leonard Cohen

Dear Hitler Take away the torches I’m not guilty I had to have this. – Leonard Cohen