RetroRay, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by RetroRay)
Sylvie Simmons presents a masterfully written and carefully researched biography of Leonard Cohen: songwriter, poet, novelist, performer, Zen master, ladie's man and Icon of generations. She knows Leonard Cohen and many of the artists and critics who admire his work. We benefit from her extensive interviews with him and countless others. I should hasten to add that she neither dwells upon nor ignores his fascination with seduction.
His 78 years of life provide a fascinating story of the pursuit of understanding, learning, teaching, and the more mundane comforts. His cultural influence is like few others. His vision and talent have moved audiences and artists since the 1960s. He has influenced countless artists, including Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix, and Lou Reed. And he continues to fill venues worldwide.
For this reader, Simmons' insight into his lyrics and music offers as much as the story of his remarkable life. She provides us with in depth knowledge not available before. I end this brief comment with the title of his legendary song, Hallelujah!
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In this vibrant and enthusiastic chronicle of Leonard Cohen's life, music critic Simmons (Neil Young: Reflections in Broken Glass) draws extensively on interviews with Cohen's friends and associates, as well as on his private archives, his unpublished writings, and his published stories and poetry. The author narrates Cohen's life from his childhood and youth in Montreal — where he started writing poetry and stories when he was 15 — through his aborted college career to his move to Manhattan in pursuit of music; his rise to fame with such songs as 'Suzanne,' 'Bird on a Wire,' and 'Hallelujah' (one of pop music's most recorded songs); his often difficult relationships with women; and his search for tranquility and order in his embrace of Buddhism. Carefully weaving the threads of all of his songs and albums through the patterns of his life, Simmons craftily explores the themes that regularly mark Cohen's work: desire, regret, suffering, love, hope, and hamming it up. Cohen emerges from this definitive biography as a sensitive and intensely serious artist whose reverence for the word and deep love and respect for his audiences continues 'to dissolve all the boundaries between word and song, between the song and the truth, and the truth and himself, his heart and its aching.' (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Janet Maslin, New York Times,
"I'm Your Man is the major, soul-searching biography that Leonard Cohen deserves...a mesmerizing labor of love."
by A.M. Homes, New York Times Book Review,
"A thoughtful celebration of the artist's life...Simmons has deftly narrated Cohen's evolution... In the end, this biography has the oddest effect: as soon as you finish reading it you feel an overwhelming impulse to go back and begin again, revisiting the story with what you've learned along the way."
by Los Angeles Times,
"A new gold standard of Cohen bios."
by Rolling Stone, Starred Review,
"This is the bio Cohen has long deserved, and it makes every prior Cohen book practically unnecessary."
by The Onion A.V. Club,
"The book is a seductive tribute to a master seducer."
by MOJO Magazine, Starred Review,
"Leonard fought darkness through his work and...the light ultimately prevailed when he triumphantly toured the world for three years beginning in 2008....'You could hear the hairs stand up on people's arms,' writes Simmons of the hushed reverence of his audience. This book demands a similar reaction."
by Shelf Awareness,
"This is a revelatory biography that investigates not just an artist's life, but the life of his art."
by New York Jewish Week,
"In I'm Your Man, we see not only the life of one man who was transformed by words, but how we ourselves may be transformed by them."
by Jewish Journal Los Angeles,
"Simmons' rich, compelling and provocative book...is a star-studded but also frank account of how the music industry really works and, at the same time, a discerning portrait of one especially important musician."
by Paste Magazine,
"Simmons is a wonderful writer...the book informs like carefully researched non-fiction, but engages like enchanting fiction....Like listening to one of Cohen's songs, this complex, beautiful biography requires you to think about it. This book will stay with you. It will change the way you hear Leonard Cohen."
"In this elegantly crafted biography, Simmons captures the artist who, in spite of all his highs and lows, is still sharp at the edges, a wise old monk, a trouper offering up himself and his songs."
by Dallas Morning News,
"Exquisitely researched and elegantly written."
by San Jose Mercury News,
"The success of Simmons' book is the way it deftly integrates each facet in a unified portrait."
by The Tuscon Citizen,
"Cohen is a complex man and Sylvie Simmons has captured every essence of it in her remarkable book. This is a deeply insightful portrait that is guaranteed to haunt the reader much like his 'Suzanne' and 'Bird on the Wire.'"
by Booklist (starred review),
"Compelling biography....A must for anyone interested in one of the most influential songwriters of our time."
by Harper Collins,
Singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen is one of the most important and influential musical artists of the past fifty years — and one of the most elusive. In Im Your Man, journalist Sylvie Simmons, one of the foremost chroniclers of the world of rock n roll and popular music, explores the extraordinary life and creative genius of Leonard Cohen. Im Your Man is an intimate and insightful appreciation of the man responsible for Suzanne, Bird on a Wire, Hallelujah, and so many other unforgettable, oft-covered ballads and songs. Based on Simmonss unparalleled access to Cohen — and written with her hallmark blend of intelligence, integrity, and style — Im Your Man is the definitive biography of a major musical artist widely considered in a league with the great Bob Dylan. Readers of Life by Rolling Stone Keith Richards and Patti Smiths phenomenal Just Kids will be riveted by this fascinating portrait of a singular musical icon.
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