Synopses & Reviews
At seventy-eight, decades after his contemporaries have either died or turned into nostalgia acts, Leonard Cohen is as popular as he’s ever been, with a chart-topping new album and songs like “Hallelujah” gracing blockbuster movie soundtracks. To understand the reasons behind Cohen’s unlikely career surge is to understand what makes him one of the more intriguing artists of our time, a powerful mixture of spirituality, desire, compassion, and humor. Granted access to Cohen’s private papers, Liel Leibovitz delivers a portrait that is as psychologically astute as it is philosophically attuned, a look not only at the inner man but also at the environments that shaped him, from the rock scene of New York in the 1960s to the remote Zen monastery where Cohen spent years later in life. Cohen, Leibovitz argues, succeeded by staying true to his singular prophetic vision, a vision millions around the world find profoundly true.
"Fact and fandom blend together in this brief biography of Leonard Cohen, the unlikely elder statesman of rock and roll who began his career as one of Canada's leading poets. This is in part due to the self-mythologizing persona of the depressive, largely enigmatic singer, but also explains the Leibovitz's inconsistent tone. There are long, slow stretches of scholarly analysis concerning Cohen's place in Canadian literature and the relationship between his frequently morose lyrics and Jewish theology. Liebovitz isn't alone in praising Cohen's demanding lyrics, but some sections appear less biographical and more an insistent attempt to explain Cohen's status as 'a connoisseur's choice,' as opposed to a mainstream pop music icon. On 'Suzanne' and 'Sisters of Mercy,' Leibovitz writes that they are a pair of 'tightly knit creations, almost too perfect to live in this world.' Still, Leibovitz manages a graceful celebration of Cohen's late-in-life renaissance, where his artistry and self-consciousness forged the iconic 'Hallelujah,' recorded in 1984, after 10 years' tormented labor. This vivid account of the stage-shy musician struggles to quell the author's admiration for Cohen, but succeeds in introducing this interesting, sometimes elusive life in song. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Brings to life a passionate poet-turned-musician and what compels him and his work.
Why is it that Leonard Cohen receives the sort of reverence we reserve for a precious few living artists? Why are his songs, three or four decades after their original release, suddenly gracing the charts, blockbuster movie sound tracks, and television singing competitions? And why is it that while most of his contemporaries are either long dead or engaged in uninspired nostalgia tours, Cohen is at the peak of his powers and popularity?
About the Author
Liel Leibovitz is a senior writer for Tablet magazine and teaches at New York University. He is the coauthor of Fortunate Sons, Lili Marlene, and The Chosen Peoples. He lives in New York City.