Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Cohen’
Beautiful interview with Leonard Cohen (google translation)in La Presse this morning. It is so refreshing to hear a Montrealer who understands and accepts with such lucidity the reasons of the estrangement he feels in his own city, without feeling he needs to condone or condemn.
“In Montreal, everybody felt like a minority: the French because they were a minority in Canada, the English because they were a minority in Québec and the Jews because they were a minority everywhere (nervous laugh). Three solitudes, indeed. It persisted until René Lévesque. I think the Parti Québécois really brought the French fact into consciousness.”
It is also rare to see a Anglo-Canadian artist, let alone one who is an international legend, treat the francophone public with such affection and respect. Not many international superstars play the Cégep de Chicoutimi and I’m pretty sure none ever addressed the Moncton public mostly in French.
Last Wednesday underground deities and most brilliant musical group since Harmonium to come out of Montreal, A Silver Mt.Zion and Tra-la-la Band (formerly Godspeed You! Black Emperor) played Sala Rossa on the Main. We got one “Merci” and one “Merci d’être venu ce soir”.
The results are in. 100% Francophones who answered the AngryFrenchGuy’s totally unscientific Who is Nous poll, consider Leonard Cohen to be one of them, part of Nous, a Québécois.
Anglos are split right down the middle and Allophones don’t see Leonard Cohen as a Québécois at all.
Born in 1934 in Montreal, son of Jewish immigrants, Leonard Cohen lived most of his youth in Québec and studied at McGill university before eventually moving to the United States. As it was common in those days in Montreal’s immigrant communities, he was raised to be and English-speaker.
Cohen himself explained in a 1975 Crawdaddy magazine article, that he was never fluent in the language of Montreal’s French majority: “I can get by, but it’s not a tongue I could ever move around in in a way that would satisfy the appetites of the mind or the heart.”
Does the poet feel like a Québécois? Here is what he had to say in the 1975 article in Crawdaddy Magazine:
“I live in Montreal, which is a French city, in Quebec, which is a French country–especially now, it is a country. I live as a minority writer, almost in exile, because there is no English writing community where I live. These are very special Canadian problems which to me form the Canadian character, because we’re very much involved in this notion of what is minority and what is majority; and yet while these questions are in the air, it seems that everybody has space. Because we don’t have the melting pot notion at all in Canada, we have a federal system that runs right down into the psyche of the country.”