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I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohenby Sylvie Simmons
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Im 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 Cohens personal archives and more than a hundred 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, Cohens birthplace, where he first found fame as a poet in the fifties, Simmons follows his trail, via London and the Greek island of Hydra, to New York in the sixties, where he launched his music career. From there she traces the arc of his prodigious achievements to his remarkable retreat in the mid-nineties — 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 fifteen years later. Whether navigating Cohens 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 Cohens 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.
"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.
"I'm Your Man is the major, soul-searching biography that Leonard Cohen deserves...a mesmerizing labor of love." Janet Maslin, New York Times
"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." A.M. Homes, New York Times Book Review
"A new gold standard of Cohen bios." Los Angeles Times
"This is the bio Cohen has long deserved, and it makes every prior Cohen book practically unnecessary." Rolling Stone, Starred Review
"The book is a seductive tribute to a master seducer." The Onion A.V. Club
"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." MOJO Magazine, Starred Review
"This is a revelatory biography that investigates not just an artist's life, but the life of his art." Shelf Awareness
"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." New York Jewish Week
"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." Jewish Journal Los Angeles
"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." Paste Magazine
"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." BookPage
"Exquisitely researched and elegantly written." Dallas Morning News
"The success of Simmons' book is the way it deftly integrates each facet in a unified portrait." San Jose Mercury News
"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.'" The Tuscon Citizen
"Compelling biography....A must for anyone interested in one of the most influential songwriters of our time." Booklist (starred review)
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.
About the Author
Sylvie Simmons is an award-winning writer and one of the foremost music journalists working today. 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! and Q. She is the author of acclaimed fiction and non-fiction books, including the biography Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes and the short-story collection Too Weird for Ziggy. She has lived at various times in England, the United States and France, and she currently lives in San Francisco, California, where she writes for MOJO magazine and plays the ukulele.
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