New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons

News about Leonard Cohen and his work, press, radio & TV programs etc.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby lizzytysh » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:05 pm

Hmmm... okay, Lisa, thanks. I'll try again, then.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby lizzytysh » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:32 pm

Yep. Found it and did it. Thanks, Lisa :) .
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby tomsakic » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:47 pm

Oh no, Paul, Algoritam (that's our leading English book store) has it in a month or so, and the price is the same as on Amazon as they're getting it on catalogue price, so you actually do save money. I just bought Ratcliff's book for 12 Euros or so, and A. Reynolds's, in new paperback and corrected edition, is 150 kunas (20 Euros).
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby LisaLCFan » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:42 pm

lizzytysh wrote:Yep. Found it and did it. Thanks, Lisa :) .
You're welcome!
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby lizzytysh » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:29 am

Check out THIS review, the comments, the comparisons, and the person who wrote it 8) ~ first, the link, and then an excerpt:

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2 ... ie-si.html
It’s not like we have no extant biographies of the remarkable and enigmatic poet, novelist, singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen. They abound.

Neither is it the case that a biography has not been published recently. A quick Google search brings up several recent offerings, most notably Tim Footman’s Hallelujah: A New Biography (2009) and Anthony Reynolds’s Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life (2011).

So … why another? Members of the Cohen club who have read these previous works know all about the songwriter’s home on the Greek island of Hydra, about Phil Spector, Joni Mitchell, Suzanne, Roshi, Mt. Baldy, Jikan, the women, the drugs, the anomie, the depression, the suit factory and all the rest of the improbably glorious lore that makes Cohen a musical icon.

So why should a reviewer strongly recommend that fans … and especially non-fans … of Leonard Cohen read a new bio?

To answer this question, I will invoke an old Talmudic device, with which Leonard Cohen—he who still lights Sabbath candles every Friday evening and celebrates Hanukkah with his children and grandchildren and who never really understood why Bob Dylan gave up Judaism—will surely be familiar.

I’ll answer the question with other questions.

How many times has Beethoven’s Ninth symphony been performed? How many times has Hamlet been staged? Are all performances equally good? After all, they’re based on the same scores, the same scripts. So wherein lies the difference between Leonard Bernstein’s conducting of the New York Philharmonic performance of Beethoven’s Ninth and that of the Southeast Cupcake Village Symphony’s rendition featuring the beloved yet vocally limited town librarian? Is Kenneth Branagh’s version of Hamlet worth seeing even though you’ve already witnessed the Prince of Denmark reminiscing about “poor Yorick” dozens of times?

I cast no aspersions on previous biographies of Cohen, but the conductor of this one tops the list of music journalists and writers. Consider Sylvie Simmons a Bernstein, a Branagh.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby lizzytysh » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:37 am

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/ne ... 5521.story

The link and the beginning of a brief review:

By August Brown

September 10, 2012, 4:25 p.m.
"I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen"

Sylvie Simmons

Ecco: $27.99, publication date Sept. 18

One challenge of assessing Leonard Cohen's musical legacy is that there's so much non-musical stuff to unpack. From his vast body of literary work to his religious triangulation — Jewish by birth, artistically obsessed with Christian imagery and later ordained as a Buddhist monk — Cohen's music is just one facet of a creative and inner life in which each element could warrant its own book treatment.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby bridger15 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:55 pm

lizzytysh wrote:http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/ne ... 5521.story

The link and the beginning of a brief review:

By August Brown

September 10, 2012, 4:25 p.m.
"I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen"

Sylvie Simmons

Ecco: $27.99, publication date Sept. 18

One challenge of assessing Leonard Cohen's musical legacy is that there's so much non-musical stuff to unpack. From his vast body of literary work to his religious triangulation — Jewish by birth, artistically obsessed with Christian imagery and later ordained as a Buddhist monk — Cohen's music is just one facet of a creative and inner life in which each element could warrant its own book treatment.
Good catch, Lizzie. I didn't get around to reading my LA Times till last night. (Just wrote about that on my LC Scrapbook)
The hard copy newspaper feature was slightly different from the online version. Here is what it looked like in the actual newspaper. ---Arlene

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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby lizzytysh » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:39 am

Would love to take credit, Arlene, but I got it from Sylvie's FB page. Someone else had posted it there. Since you know how to post that, why don't you go to her wall and put it there, too.

Love the description they chose to hilight 8) ... and, as always, the photo. Great to see that on a newspaper page, isn't it :D .


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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby comehealing » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:39 pm

Fantastic review.

Can't wait to read this book this autumn, perfect accompaniment
to a bowl of roasted chestnuts and a glass of St.Emilion perchance.

Maybe a full moon just to complete the scene.

:)
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby bridger15 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:48 am

Book review by the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

http://www.jewishjournal.com/books/arti ... rs_journey
September 19, 2012

A troubadour’s journey

By Jonathan Kirsch

Among the most-played songs in my iTunes library are four immortal (and often-covered) compositions by Leonard Cohen: “Sisters of Mercy,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Hallelujah” and, of course, “Suzanne.” Significantly, “Hallejujah” is a meditation on the “sweet singer of Israel,” King David, although Cohen himself is, famously, a Buddhist monk and, not so famously, a former student of Scientology with a “Senior Dianetic, Grade IV Release” to show for it.

Before he achieved his current stature as a celebrated songwriter and an éminence grise of (North) American popular culture, however, Cohen more closely resembled a character out of a Mordecai Richler novel. Young Leonard was born in the wealthy Jewish neighborhood of Westmount in Montreal, the son of a man who made his fortune in haberdashery and insurance, and he served as president of the Menorah Club at Westmount High School, but he reinvented himself as a faintly Byronic figure with poetry that he fully intended to win prizes and readers.

The whole story of Cohen’s life and work is told in “I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen” by Sylvie Simmons (Ecco: $27.99), a rock journalist and biographer (“Neil Young: Reflections in Broken Glass”). It is a sweeping and yet penetrating book that gives us the elusive Cohen in full light and intimate detail.

Simmons brings her flair for the arresting phrase to her work. “By inclination he is a private man, rather shy,” she writes, “but if probing is required he’ll put his feet in the stirrups with dignity and humor.” And she succeeds in capturing the alchemy by which Cohen turned his adolescent angst into gold: “The Big Bang of Leonard, the moment when poetry, music, sex and spiritual longing collided and fused in him for the first time, happened in 1950, between his fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays,” she explains, “when he happened upon ‘The Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca.’ ” Young Leonard never looked back.
jewish journal art_sylvie-simmons_092112_600.jpg
Sylvie Simmons. Photo by Alissa Anderson

By 1954, Cohen had published his first poem. Two years later, his first book of poems, “Let Us Compare Mythologies,” was in print in an edition of 400 copies. He was praised in the Canadian press, but he aspired to the Big Apple: “Leonard had gone to New York to be a writer — a serious writer, but also a popular one,” Simmons writes. But he soon ended up back in Canada, where he was reduced to working as a camp counselor. Only when he managed to make his way to England, then Israel and finally Greece did he fully grasp the role that would make him famous — the tortured but muse-inspired artist whose life (including his sex life) is a restless search for meaning.

“[W]hat served Leonard best was his survival instinct,” Simmons writes. “Leonard was a lover, but when it comes to survival he was also a fighter.”

His breakout book was a poetry collection titled “The Spice-Box of Earth,” another explicitly Jewish reference, but “the poems dance back and forth across the border between the holy and the worldly, the elevated and the carnal.” He was now writing novels and, although not yet 30, a memoir titled “The Favorite Game.” Cohen understood how to call attention to himself, as when he delivered an intentionally inflammatory but also self-revelatory talk at the Montreal Jewish Public Library.

“Jews were ‘afraid to be lonely’ and sought security in finance, neglecting their scholars and sages, their artists and prophets,” the author writes. “ ‘Jews must survive in their loneliness as witnesses,’ he told them. ‘Jews are witnesses to monotheism and that is what they must continue to declare.’ ”

Simmons interviewed Cohen for her book, but she also sought out those who knew him in one way or another throughout his life, including Suzanne Verdal, the woman who inspired the poem and song titled “Suzanne,” and who now works as a masseuse in Santa Monica. “I sensed a deep, philosophical side to Leonard that he seemed to see in me as well,” the original Suzanne recalls, “and he got a kick out of it that I was a sort of fledging in a way, just emerging as a young artist.”

The famous song, as it turns out, provides a good example of what Simmons does best in her biography. Cohen asserts that he convinced Judy Collins to record “Suzanne” — a breakthrough moment in his songwriting career — by “playing [the song] to her over the phone from his mother’s house in Montreal.” Simmons, however, sought out Collins herself and checked out Cohen’s version. “ ‘B---s---,’ says Collins.” The fact is that Cohen performed three of his songs in person for Collins, and “Collins recorded the songs as she heard them.”

Recently, I caught a screening of the 1965 documentary titled “Ladies and Gentlemen … Mr. Leonard Cohen,” which — as Simmons rightly puts it — “depicts Leonard doing an assortment of cool-looking things in various cool-looking Montreal locations to a soundtrack of cool jazz.” He was not yet the maker of metaphysical love songs that he would soon become, but the talent, drive and sheer charisma that turned him into an icon were already on display.

So it is with Simmons’ rich, compelling and provocative book, which 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. Along the way, she describes how an ambitious and gifted young man rescues himself from a career in the family shmata business and remakes himself into an artist and a celebrity — two very different identities, both of which Leonard Cohen has managed to embody without going entirely to pieces.
---Arlene
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby friscogrl » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:00 am

I received my pre- order copy today. I said to myself that I would finish the book I was currently reading. Well formentioned book is no longer the one I am currently reading!

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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby ladydi » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:06 am

haha...Marsha, I know what you mean, although my "other" book is awesome. Temporarily set aside for "I'm Your Man"! So far I am very very impressed by Sylvie. She has a beautiful way with words, and I'm looking forward to heading to bed to read a few more pages! What a refreshing moment after a couple of years of would-be authors attempting to ride on Leonard's elegant coat-tails!
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby ladydi » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:15 am

ps: in the Ann Arbor Barnes and Noble, "I'm Your Man" was stuck back in the music section. The day after I bought my copy, I returned and slipped another copy from the hidden depths of "music" to "new arrivals" at the front of the store! Probably no one cared...but me! :D
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby bridger15 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:48 pm

ladydi wrote:ps: in the Ann Arbor Barnes and Noble, "I'm Your Man" was stuck back in the music section. The day after I bought my copy, I returned and slipped another copy from the hidden depths of "music" to "new arrivals" at the front of the store! Probably no one cared...but me! :D
"Like" :D
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby MaryB » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:16 pm

Good for you Diana!
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