Published Nov 11, 2016Last month, Leonard Cohen shocked fans when he proclaimed: "I am ready to die" in an interview with The New Yorker. Sadly, the iconic singer-songwriter's prediction that his time left on earth was limited came true, as news emerged last night (November 10) that he had passed away at the age of 82. Now, The New Yorker's editor David Remnick has shared audio files from his conversation with Cohen, which is believed to be the singer's last formal interview.
The interview took place over multiple days in June of this year, and in the 30 minutes of tape released, we learn that Cohen had been suffering from cancer. He was living in Los Angeles, and Remnick describes him as being "very thin" (down to about 105 or 110 pounds), in a lot of pain and requiring a "big blue medical chair" to help ease that pain. Nevertheless, Remnick says Cohen was in "an ebullient mood" and "incredibly gracious" — he can even be heard offering the journalist cheese and olives before they really get talking.
Remnick also notes that Cohen's self-mockery and keen sense of humour were as intact as ever, as he opened up about his childhood, impressive career and, yes, making the transition to death.
Their conversation moves from overcoming extreme stage fright (a fear he tried to conquer with three bottles of wine or LSD before shows) to moving towards death with a sense of calm acceptance. He talks of his experiences with Zen meditation (which he says taught him that whining is "the least appropriate response to suffering"), making his return to the live stage out of necessity after getting swindled by his manager, aging gracefully and developing a new relationship with god ("It's very compassionate at this stage").
Listen to what is likely Cohen's final interview via The New Yorker's podcast below.