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On this day in 2006: Leonard Cohen on songwriting and love

Singer and poet reveals the struggles he overcame on his path to icon status

Leonard Cohen

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On the eve of entering the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2006, Canadian icon Leonard Cohen shared the real life struggles he overcame on his way to greatness. As he reflected on his decades-long career, he revealed that writing lyrics has never been easy.

"It takes me a long time to bring these songs to completion. I sweat over every word," he said. And nevermind love, "I was never good with it. Let's face it." As it turns out, Leonard Cohen is, in fact, human.

This month, Toronto's Theatre 20, with the support of Theatre Passe Muraille, is staging a theatrical love letter to the Canadian icon. Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, tells the story of a Cohen-like character slaving over a potential new classic, while holed up in the famed New York City residence.

In the play, the main character also struggles with writing and "love — how he's looked at it over the years, what he's learned, who he's hurt, who's hurt him," says the musical's director, Tracey Power.

A Scene From 'Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen'

Much like the Chelsea Hotel musical, the archived chat with Shelagh Rogers from CBC's Sounds Like Canada paints an endearingly humbled view of an artist often referred to as though he was some mythological creature.

And he's grateful for it, sharing that "to have songs go into the hearts of your country, men and women, is really a wonderful thing."

Visit the CBC Digital Archives for more throwbacks like this one.

Theatre 20 with the support of Theatre Passe Muraille presents Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen. Featuring Rachel Aberle, Sean Cronin, Christina Cuglietta, Ben Elliott, Jonathan Gould and Tracey Power. Conceived and directed by Tracey Power. Musical direction and arrangements by Steven Charles. To Feb 21. Tues-Sat 7:30 pm; Mat Sat-Sun 2pm & Feb 18 at 1pm; Special showing Feb 14 at 7:30pm. $35-55; arts worker w/ valid I.D. $30; Under 30 with valid I.D. $25. Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave, Toronto. (416) 504-7529.

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