My mother gave me a tape of Leonard Cohen songs when I was 18 – after I had split up with a girlfriend. My father thought it was a ridiculous thing to do, saying Cohen’s music was depressing. But my father was wrong because the lyrics reflected my feelings and are wonderfully witty – for example, ’My friends are gone and my hair is grey. I ache in the places where I used to play,’ from his song, Tower of Song.
While it’s true many of his songs are sombre, they always have a thread of playfulness about them.
I am often asked about where I get my ideas and always quote Cohen’s answer to that question: ’If I knew that, I’d go there more often.’
When my mind is blocked, I’ll put on some Cohen. His songs always take my thoughts away – to a place where ideas start flowing.
Cohen is also an inspiration for anyone who feels it’s too late to change their direction in life. He didn’t start his singing career until he was 34, and is still writing songs and performing at the age of 76.