Tuesday, 23 October 2012

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen

I'm Your Man
The Life of Leonard Cohen

by Sylvie Simmons

Hardcover, 576 pages

People can be a little polarized when it comes to Leonard Cohen. They either absolutely love him - or they are not my friend. Okay, I might be exaggerating slightly, but Leonard has been a fixed point in my life ever since I saw I am a Hotel in 1983. A lightning bolt went through me and I was transfixed by the music of this man I instantly felt I had known all my life. Leonard has that effect on people.

And, like to many who hang on to the adolescent ache of loneliness, alienation, depression... or all of the above... He speaks to me. Or, his songs and poetry speak to me. Leonard is human, after all. And, like his fellow humans, he has many facets. Sylvie does a remarkable job of documenting his long and fascinating life with the eyes of a fan, yes, but also with the realistic perspective that does honour both Leonard and her readers with truth. Sylvie is no stranger to working with top musical artists, and she has been fortunate to have been able to interview over a hundred formative people in Leonard's life. His women, family, friends and people in the music industry all helped to shape this book, as did Leonard himself in rare and revealing personal interviews with the author.

We read how each book and album came to be and what was going on at the time. I found myself listening to each one and reading each one with a new appreciation and new discovery. 

As you can imagine, I have read bios of Leonard before. None compare to the thoroughness of this one. It is the absolute - the best. And what a great time for it to come out. Leonard turned 78 last month and is still going strong, touring the world as the man with the golden voice. I saw him in Toronto in 2008. I cried. The whole time. And, like most of the audience, I knew every lyric by heart.   

Read I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen if you have any interest in knowing his songs, albums, books, poetry or life better. Give it as a gift. It is a gift.

 SYLVIE SIMMONS is one of the best-known names in rock journalism. She has written for Q, Rolling Stone, Sounds, Kerrang!, Tracks, Blender, and Creem, among others. She writes for MOJO, in which she has a monthly American column and has had cover stories about Neil Young, Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys , AC/DC, and Johnny Cash. She also writes for British newspapers including Times, the Sunday Sport, and the Guardian. In the US, she writes for the San Francisco Chronicle. randomhouse.ca