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Leonard Cohen on moonlight

6 minutes

Leonard Cohen turns an erotic fantasy that wasn’t into a sleepless night’s work

Love could not bind them

Fear could not either

They went unconnected

They never knew where

Excerpted from a little-known interview conducted by Kathleen Kendel in 1974, this instalment of PBS’s animated Blank on Blank series features the recently deceased Canadian writer, singer and artist Leonard Cohen reading his poem ‘Two Went to Sleep’ in his distinctive baritone. He then goes on to tell the story of writing the song ‘The Sisters of Mercy’, evoking a restless moonlit winter night spent in Edmonton, Canada, with two sleeping companions nearby. How Cohen got himself into bed with two women is a good story, but what actually transpired is something altogether more wonderful – a lovely evocation of songwriting’s power to transport.

Director: Patrick Smith

Producer: David Gerlach

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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.
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But we can’t do it without you.

Support Aeon

Essay/
Art
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Forensics can’t be sure. Provenance can be fudged. This is why the expert eye still rules the game of art authentication

Noah Charney

Essay/
Cultures & Languages
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The Greeks didn’t have modern ideas of race. Did they see themselves as white, black – or as something else altogether?

Tim Whitmarsh