Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Apology to Clive Simmons

A couple of blogs ago I raised concerns about some words
said by Leonard Cohen in an interview published in the
January 3 Listener. They were so similar—the first 27 were
identical—to words said by Cohen in a 1978 Rolling Stone
interview that I wondered aloud about their provenance.
Guy Somerset, arts & books editor of the Listener, has
phoned me this morning to say that the writer, Clive
Simmons, has assured him that the words in question were
indeed said by Cohen to him during their interview last
year: I accept that assurance and apologize unreservedly to
Clive for any offence he might have taken at what I wrote
and any imputation thereby arising. I was wrong. Cohen
does indeed have, as I found it hard to believe, the 'freakish
ability to repeat virtually word for word something he said
30 years ago.’ Guess I should have realized that singers
live by remembering all their words. Sorry, Clive.


Anonymous said...

No offense to anyone intended here, but celebrities in general, from actors to singers to fashion models, often repeat themselves. How many times can you be asked the same dumb question without smacking down the journalist/reporter/curious fan? The antidote is to get a great line and repeat it. They all do it. It suggests a consistency that none of us really have and patience that no human being could possess. In other words, it is an effective method to give yourself to the world while really keeping much of yourself protected and guarded. Hallelujah.

Anonymous said...

I've seen Robert Fisk at writers festival sessions two and a half years apart in Wellington and Christchurch and he told identical stories each time -- word for word, with identical intonation during the most chilling Baghdad hospital anecdotes. You realise that the interview is a performance, whether onstage at the Embassy before hundreds or in a hotel before one man and a dictaphone. As the other anonymous says, you can reveal a lot and still keep yourself guarded.

Ditto with Leonard -- he's obviously found a perfectly polished answer for questions about difficult times in his life. Fair enough. You'd hate to hear him interviewed by a Kim Hill or a Mary Robinson, frustrated that he won't let his guard all the way down and give them something fresh.

Craig Scott fan said...

So how come, if Cohen always wheels out this particular quote, we don't see it used anywhere else? Seems a bit queer to me.

Anonymous said...

Why has the interview been removed from the Listener website then?