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Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Leonard Cohen, one of the most important and influential artists of our era, is a man of powerful emotion and intelligence whose work has explored the essential issues of human life—sex, religion, power, love. Cohen is also a man of complexities and seeming contradictions: a devout Jew, who is also a sophisticate and a ladies' man, as well as an ordained Buddhist monk whos Leonard Cohen, one of the most important and influential artists of our era, is a man of powerful emotion and intelligence whose work has explored the essential issues of human life—sex, religion, power, love.
Cohen is also a man of complexities and seeming contradictions: a devout Jew, who is also a sophisticate and a ladies' man, as well as an ordained Buddhist monk whose name, Jikan—"ordinary silence"—is quite the appellation for a writer and singer whose life has been anything but ordinary. I'm Your Man is the definitive account of that extraordinary life. Starting in Montreal, Cohen's birthplace, acclaimed music journalist Sylvie Simmons follows his trail, via London and the Greek island of Hydra, to New York in the sixties, where Cohen launched his career in music. From there she traces the arc of his prodigious achievements to his remarkable retreat in the mid-nineties and his reemergence for a sold-out world tour almost fifteen years later.
Whether navigating Cohen's journeys through the backstreets of Mumbai or his countless hotel rooms along the way, Simmons explores with equal focus every complex, contradictory strand of Cohen's life and presents a deeply insightful portrait of the vision, spirit, depth, and talent of an artist and a man who continues to move people like no one else. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published September 18th by Ecco first published October 18th More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about I'm Your Man , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 01, Paul Bryant rated it really liked it Shelves: music-biographies.
Revived review in honour of this great singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, comedian and graceful human being. He's been with me almost every step of the way in my life, his sorrowful black humour was often a small kind glimmer in my own sometime darkness. I saw Leonard in concert in in London. After one song he thanked the audience.
But I have to say… they didn't help a bit. How Leonard became Cohen - fastforwardstyle Nathan Cohen high end formalwear manufacturer, Masha Cohen, 16 years younger, recently arrived from Russia; Montreal, a thousand miles away from where they were killing all the Jews; Nathan dead at 52, Leonard aged 9; The Buckskin Boys a country music trio ; Irving Layton; year of Elvis, year of Howl aged 22 first book - Let Us Compare Mythologies we pinned Jesus like a lovely butterfly against the wood — original print run, ; New York, back to Montreal, rejected first novel A Ballet of Lepers, you couldn't make it up!
Beauty at Close Quarters unpublished novel No 2 ; The Spice-Box of Earth ; Jerusalem; Hydra : "everything you saw was beautiful, every corner, every lamp, everything you touched, everything" — including Marianne Ihlen. We met when we were almost young. Back to Montreal with Marianne; the brightest young poet in Canada visits Cuba; back to Hydra - no electricity, no phone, no water but a lot of speed and Mandrax "as handsome a pair of pharmaceuticals as a hard-working writer could wish to meet… providing backup harmony, hashish, opium and acid" says Sylvie.
Back to London; Michael X hanged for murder in said he would appoint Leonard Minister for Tourism when he established his revolutionary government in Trinidad. And why not? I sure would. Back to Hydra. Third novel. Is it called The Perfect jukebox? Fields of Hair? No — The Favourite Game. Says Sylvie. Now he's 30, applying for grants, taking bits of jobs, Hydramontrealing. Next poetry book : Opium and Hitler. His publisher objects to the title.
LC says it will appeal "to the diseased adolescents who compose my public. Ah, compromise. Then Suzanne Verdal takes him down to her place by the river. Endless drugs, writing Beautiful Losers at breakneck speed on speed. Published in , didn't sell. At all. Decides he needs to make some kind of living and poetry and novels are clearly not it. Thinks he'll try singing. New York — introduced to Mary Martin, a Canadian in the music management biz and she knows exactly who Leonard should meet : Judy Collins.
‘I’m Your Man,’ Leonard Cohen Bio by Sylvie Simmons
Now it comes into focus — JC loves everything LC sings to her, immediately puts 2 songs on her new album, which is a hit, and LC finally makes some public appearances as a singer. All the way down the line he seems like he's posing as the frail, sad poet with a capital P, it's his schtick, all folorn and droopy and soulful and deep lines round the mouth, in order to get the girls, which he does because he's good at it, and handsome in a Dustin Hoffman Al Pacino kind of way, even now, and his lyrics are often pure tripe, gestures towards profundity, deliberately obscure, just a collection of Pavlovian words to tickle our godbone, and my God what a one track mind, women this, women that, did he ever write a non-sexual song?
I must have missed it… And yet, he's funny, he always was, and daring, and his tunes are so very pretty, and he can write like an angel on occasion — sometimes all the hype is true, how annoying - God is Alive, Magic is Afoot, A Kite is a Victim, Stranger Song, Democracy is Coming to the USA, and the entirety of Beautiful Losers, all pure gold, I'd take them to my desert island. At the moment I'd also have Dance me to the End of Love as one of my desert island discs.
The thing is, he gets you on his wavelength. You know what? He was my man. Like he said. I bet you flinched when you first heard him. But it's okay, there's plenty of room for the both of you, your awkward clawing and expert plagiarising has a place prepared for it at my banquet of song.
I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, review - Telegraph
I'm sitting Hank Williams between you and Leonard. His whole life is a bit galling, you know, he droops and sags through all this desolation free razorblade with every album whilst having to shoo naked 24 year olds out of the way so he can get to his front door. He's so solitary but his concerts are sellouts and he loves working those crowds. He's Tom Jones for the book groups, they throw moist first editions at him.
Audiences immediately loved him and never stopped; they love him even more now he's old. What's he got to be doleful about? He always has these dead-on cool situations going — he lives with a gorgeous young woman on Hydra, he eats a bucketful of drugs and he writes Beautiful Losers — he tosses off quotes like "I'd thought of myself as a loser. I didn't like my life" — then later with the second Suzanne, another gorgeous young woman, he doesn't like that situation either; there's no pleasing this guy.
He loathes himself because there's no pleasing him. He's a monster of appetite and he's a Zen monk. He's fixated on sex but he's universal and spiritual.
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At the same time. He has everything, he has nothing. He's self obsessed, yet always comes across as generous. In he has his most successful album ever The Future , a successful world tour, he's engaged to blonde bombshell Rebecca de Mornay 20 years his junior, of course, you think guys like him go out with women of his own age? For five years. But even that doesn't work, he falls into another dreadful depression.
He comes down from the mountain and gets back into his thing again. Then someone sidles up and says sotto voce "Hey Leonard — did you check your bank account recently? So back on the road he goes, and makes all his money back, and then some. That's one to tell at the next dinner party. She gets the complicated detailed story told, it motors right along, there are no longeurs. And she's funny too. Other than finding themselves the last two left at a key party, it is hard to picture Leonard Cohen and Phil Spector ever ending up as musical bedfellows p The years Leonard has spent in the monastery had done nothing to dull his talent at sniffing out a nondescript hotel room p On the older deeper voice : His delivery was laconic, almost recitative, like an old French chansonnier who has mistakenly stumbled into disco.
It was urbane and unhurried; as one UK critic put it, Leonard lingered on every word "like a kerb crawler". His voice was deep and dry, sly and beguiling as his songs. It was polished and mannered but very human, it was brutally honest but very accessible and his songs covered all the angles. These interesting volumes would look good on the shelves of Borges' Library of Babel — where they already are!!
So you can forget all the other Cohen books, here's a great one stop shop. I loved it. View all 18 comments. May 31, Vanessa rated it it was amazing Shelves: favourites. My earliest recollection of Leonard Cohen was when I first listened to 'Everybody Knows' in yet I had no idea who sang it and didn't think much else about the artist until a few years before his death when I was given a copy of one of his albums but I distinctly remember hearing the song back then and feeling wowed by the tone of voice.
It was like something I'd never heard before.
I was prompted to read this book shortly after his death as I remember having a lump in my throat at the world My earliest recollection of Leonard Cohen was when I first listened to 'Everybody Knows' in yet I had no idea who sang it and didn't think much else about the artist until a few years before his death when I was given a copy of one of his albums but I distinctly remember hearing the song back then and feeling wowed by the tone of voice. I was prompted to read this book shortly after his death as I remember having a lump in my throat at the world losing such a beautiful unique artist, I felt a deep need to learn more about this enigmatic man.
This biography well researched and intricately detailed by Sylvie Simmons is a comprehensive look at the full life of a true musical magician. A man full of complex contradictions. A man of magnificent restraint. This is a man who always grappled with self doubt. He spent a lot of time soul searching and looking for answers and often sought different religious leaders, despite his Jewish ancestry he was drawn to the Buddhist teachings of Joshu Sasaki Roshi a man who became one of his most influential teachers spending a length of time at a Zen centre and becoming an ordained Zen Buddhist Monk himself, he also sought the teachings of a Advaita Master a form of Hindu philosophy and travelled to Mumbai regularly.
He often had bouts of depression and needed to spend time alone away from the spotlight, when things got too hectic he craved solitude and walked away from it all, reappearing when he felt reenergised and ready to brace the music world again. Leonard was a true bohemian and a free spirit he feared commitment and shied away from marriage but he was very committed to his art, his lifelong friends, his religious studies and ultimately his music which gave him his purpose and drive. This book has a lot of content, it covers the early days of his transition from poetry and author to accidental musician he was a reluctant celebrity but also courted it, he was there during the Chelsea days and mixed with all the greats Dylan, Ginsberg, Nico, Janis, Joni and many more but he also always felt like an outcast.
To me he was the epitome of a true gentleman and a voice of a generation that left a major hole in the art and music world that will never be filled. This took me awhile to read but I can say it was a privilege to get to know intimately this true humble beautiful soul that I found myself mesmerised by his sheer brilliance. View all 53 comments.
May 10, Carole rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-read-in What I learned from reading "I'm Your Man": 1. How many different drugs Leonard has taken: many! How many women Leonard has been romantically involved with: many, many! How many celebrities in the music world Leonard has associated with and worked with: many, many, many quite a few of whom could be on list 2 as well! Interesting tidbits about his life and career that were previously unknown to me. For example, there were two Suzannes in his life. The one who was his common-law wife for 10 years and who is the mother of his two children, Adam and Lorca, is not the one who was the muse for the song.
Also, Leonard's granddaughter, Lorca's daughter, is the biological child of Rufus Wainwright, who is also of course the child of a celebrated musical dynasty. This was a fascinating book about a fascinating man. Sylvie Simmons completed an impressive and exhausting volume of research about Leonard and has written a very informative and entertaining biography of a consummate professional who is still hard at work at his career despite the fact that he is in his late 70's.
Dec 09, Janet rated it it was amazing. Have to keep from gulping this down at a single sitting.
Now I know where he picked it up--from a suicidal Spaniard he met in a park in Montreal. I know something of his family life--there are amazing parallels to the life of Diane Arbus and her brother, the poet Howard Nemerov. I know more about the women and the life, and yet there's a restraint here, a gentlemanly ladylike tone which leaves the private life as simply the raw material of the work, rather than the subject and his relationship to persona. Decorous, I would call it. The story was well-paced and revealed a great deal I didn't know about the mysterious singer with the seductive, slightly menacing point of view.
I can say it was was exhaustive on the subject of recordings--but it certainly took no liberties to derive larger conclusions about the artist and his work. I missed the pithiness, wit and psychological insight of Patti Smith's autobiography. Cohen's mystery was by no means violated in the making of this book, and in many ways remains as elusive as ever. I think the author was more comfortable probing the earlier years, the later material oddly seems more veiled, my guess because Cohen himself was not so forthcoming with his current life.
I did appreciate that the poetry and fiction was treated, as well as the songs, and just makes me want to seek out the novels, poetry, concert videos and other biographies. View all 4 comments. Dec 26, Carl R. I feel cheated, and by my own self. Talk about clueless. Born in Montreal, just a few years before I was, he was raised among the well-to-do Jews of that community. As an adolescent, he became a wanderer of the nighttime streets a habit he never discarded , then events overlapping a poet.
Not a particularly successful one at first, though he did become part of the beat community—to the extent there was one—in Montr I feel cheated, and by my own self. Not a particularly successful one at first, though he did become part of the beat community—to the extent there was one—in Montreal. He began singing and playing the guitar more or less by accident as recreation more than an art. In fact, he valued the music more for its ability to attract women than for anything else.
Sylvie Simmons can write like this:images He… dissolved all boundaries between word and song, and between song and the truth, and the truth and himself, and his heart and its aching. All the heavy labor, … the highs, the depths to which he had plummeted and all the women and deities, loving and wrathful, he had examined and worshipped, loved and abandoned, but never really lost, had been in the service of this.
She sees to the heart of it all, and we never lose sight of the man. As far as I can tell, Cohen is a better poet, has certainly sustained his quality for longer. A better musician, too. Yet, the first I heard of him was when my Canadian son-in-law gave me a CD as a way of introducing me to some of Canadian culture the Christmas after he married my stepdaughter a few years back.
I wish I could say I was immediately taken. The lyrics sounded interesting, but the rumbling, almost chanting voice put me off, dense fool that I was. The book has inspired me to go back and listen again. Then download some more. And who else is this man? His records never sold in the U. Baldy, where he spent years in meditation, producing almost nothing public, though he kept writing, encouraged by his favorite monk.
Then there was his money—millions by this time—stolen by someone he trusted. Trusted too much. So he had to go back to work, which he did as gladly as he had left it. Somehow he had found some happiness in his dark world. And celebrity came again. Two different souls? Having no intention of retiring. I hope he waits for that long enough for me to catch up with him. View all 3 comments. Nov 29, Ana rated it it was amazing Shelves: absolute , of-family , autobiography , of-life-and-death , on-writing , touches-art , history , humour-me , non-fiction , love-me-again.
It is very hard to express what Leonard Cohen means to me. He is the poet of my soul; by some impossible feat, he has written about my childhood, my love, my mind and my life without ever having met me. At times, he is so close to the truth of things that have actually happened that I wonder if he wasn't in the room with me, listening, taking part in my most intimate moments. I will never be able to properly express my gratitude for his existencr and the gift he gave to the world by creating poe It is very hard to express what Leonard Cohen means to me. I will never be able to properly express my gratitude for his existencr and the gift he gave to the world by creating poetry and music.
His life is worth reading about - he has done much more than one would expect from a poet with a love for solitude. His passing away has put a hole through my heart. I cried for an entire morning; this man changed my life and, unbeknowst to him, had a part in making me the woman I am today.
No, I will not speak of Cohen using the past tense. For me, he is alive through every song and every poem and every emotion his creation carries me through, to see me matured on the other side. Mar 17, Melody rated it liked it. I started reading Cohen's poetry when I was in high school, but I had no conception of him as a musician.
It took me till I was in my early 20s to fall in love with his music, with his voice. At that time I was falling in love with a great many people and things. Leonard is still with me, unlike most of the rest. His music rewards contemplation, it rewards analysis, and it rewards showing up. I have seen hundreds of concerts in my life, and the two that were best by miles were Cohen's- so much s I started reading Cohen's poetry when I was in high school, but I had no conception of him as a musician. I have seen hundreds of concerts in my life, and the two that were best by miles were Cohen's- so much so that I'm content to never see another concert.
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Born in London, she moved to Los Angeles in the late seventies and started writing about rock music for magazines such as Sounds , Creem , Kerrang! She is the author of acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books, including the biography Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes and the short-story collection Too Weird for Ziggy. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. About the Author Sylvie Simmons is an award-winning writer and one of the foremost music journalists working today.