The legend behind such songs as "Suzanne", "Bird on the Wire", and "Hallelujah" and the poet and novelist behind such groundbreaking literary works as Beautiful Losers and Book of Mercy, Leonard Cohen is one of the most important and influential artists of our era, a man of powerful emotion and intelligence whose work has explored the definitive issues of human life - sex, religion, power, meaning, love. Cohen is also a man of complexities and seeming contradictions: a devout Jew, who is also a sophisticate and 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.
Acclaimed music journalist Sylvie Simmons crafts a portrait of Cohen as nuanced as the man himself, drawing on a wealth of research that includes Cohen's personal archives and more than 100 exclusive interviews with those closest to Cohen - from his lovers, friends, monks, professors, rabbis, and fellow musicians to his muses, including Rebecca De Mornay, Marianne Ihlen, Suzanne Elrod, and Suzanne Verdal - and most important, with Cohen himself, whose presence infuses these pages.
Starting in Montreal, Cohen's birthplace, where he first found fame as a poet in the '50s, Simmons follows his trail, via London and the Greek island of Hydra, to New York in the '60s, where he launched his music career. From there she traces the arc of his prodigious achievements to his remarkable retreat in the mid-'90s - when on the cusp of marriage to a beautiful actress and enjoying the success of his best-selling album to date, he entered a monastery on a rocky mountaintop above Los Angeles - and finally to his reemergence for a sold-out world tour almost 15 years later. Whether navigating Cohen's journeys through the back streets of Mumbai or the countless hotel rooms where he has stayed along the way, Simmons explores with equal focus every complex, contradictory strand of Cohen's life - from the halls of academia to the arenas of rock 'n' roll - and presents a deeply insightful portrait of both the artist and the man whose vision, spirit, depth and talent continue to move people like no one else.
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Biography from a room
last week I took Ms. Simmons "I'm your man" out on the road with me for a second read. Here are my thoughts after that pass.
This book reads like literature, and to me, that is everything. The authors idiosyncratic voice and style shine through just enough to light the many rooms her subject (Mr. Cohens life) inhabits. This is a working journalist, writer and songwriter doing what she does best, working.
I honestly did not know about her vast body of work before reading this book and so have had the luxury of going back through years of the top music publications that are rich with her prose. I suggest you do the same, you will be better for it.
"I'm your man" is excellent and I want to Thank Ms. Simmons for writing this gem of a biography.
Now on to "A fistfull of Gitanes."
- john e reynolds
Highly Recommend !!!
The writing was thorough, and well done, the story is fascinating, and the performance excellent. What more can I say?
This story of a man I just discovered through his music a few years ago, answered a lot of questions for me. Such as, "This guy is fantastic, why have I not heard of him before?"
He was known world wide as a celebrity, but not in America, why?
I was also fascinated by his spiritual journey, and the extremes he went to, to find his answers.
Joshua Polluck never wavered, I could listen to him all day.
Yes and no, I found the book one, that I could not put down, but also, wanted to savor, each little morsel.
This book could be displayed not only in biography, but as stands alone as a historical document of the music industry.