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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

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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