New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons

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

Postby comehealing » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:35 pm

What a ridiculous line this is in the Daily Mail review:
For all his gloom and apparent world-weariness, Leonard Cohen, it’s clear, is also a colossal old ham.
Mind you, this is the Daily Mail so I guess one shouldn't be too surprised :)
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"That love is all there is" (Emily Dickinson)
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby Born With The Gift Of A G » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:33 pm

Review of the book taken from The Daily Telegraph:


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/book ... eview.html
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby lizzytysh » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:35 pm

My U.K. version arrived today and I wouldn't trade it or send it back for the world! The quality of the photos is certainly sub standard, but I can look at the better reproductions of them in one of my other books... and, as I recall, there are photos in the U.K. one that aren't in the others... and that some of your wording made it through more easily with fewer changes.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby B4real » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:11 am

I received my book three days ago (almost to the hour) way ahead of the eta in December - thank you Amazon USA! I have finished reading it already.

It has been an easy read. I enjoyed Sylvie’s writing style and dry sense of humour.
I knew there would be many things I was already aware of but happily also others I didn’t know. It would have been impossible to write a biography about Leonard and not include the main early facts even though they have been stated many times before. The inclusion of some photos I had never seen was a bonus!
It is a great book for someone who had just discovered Leonard to read.

A few of the highlights (there were a lot more) which were new to me -

Page 228: Loved this story about the mask! It says so much. To be invisibly visible! I wonder where the aluminum cast is now?

Pages 235-240: I felt a bit like that line from Bruce Springsteen’s song For You “you could laugh and cry in a single sound”, when I read these pages about LC playing a concert at the Henderson Hospital. It would also be great if Ian Milne’s tape could be made available for us.

Page 365: Laughed out loud at this first meeting of Perla in white and LC in black!

Even though I wasn’t looking for them at all, I found a few points that could maybe be clarified:

Pages 148-149: Judy Collins says that Leonard sang Suzanne to her in her living room but in a video interview (Songs from the life of LC) Leonard states that he sang the song to her over the phone. Maybe he did it twice, once over the phone and once at her place?

Page 193: States imo correctly that the back cover of Leonard’s first album Songs Of Leonard Cohen is a photo of a Mexican saint he found at the store where he bought his candles and spells. Pages 248-249: Say the back sleeve is Joan of Arc. (back cover/back sleeve - same thing?)

Page 506: No mention of the 2010 tour going to Australia. (NZ gets a mention but I suppose it’s considered further away that Australia) haha!

Over all I enjoyed I’m Your Man and can readily appreciate the blood, sweat and tears (pun intended!) and suspension of normal life that has gone into the production of this book. I totally love that the author has had actual contact with the subject of her book and it is as up to date as it could possibly be.
Well done, and thank you Sylvie (and all who contributed) for your words.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby tina » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:34 am

Review of the book from the Stuttgarter Zeitung:

http://www.stuttgarter-zeitung.de/inhal ... d9d2d.html
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby John Etherington » Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:52 am

Here's the review from yesterday's Evening Standard, with a colour pic I hadn't seen before:

http://www.standard.co.uk/arts/book/hal ... 43423.html

The writer refers to Sylvie's "icky habit of paraphrasing lines of his verse" (which was a minor quibble of mine, that I mentioned earlier).
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby redpen » Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:42 pm

We have an extract of I'm Your Man in the magazine of The Sydney Mornng Herald today. It highlights a part in the book featuring our wonderful, now deceased, expats then repats, George Johnston and Charmian Clift, who lived on Hydra when LC visited then stayed there. The photographs published for the extract are fabulous. I was very excited to read it having only re-read Peel Me a Lotus by Charmian Clift last week and Clean Straw for Nothing by George Johnstone earlier in the year. Having read the two books I was very familiar with the setting, the people, the habits of the community. Reading the extract I was thrilled - then disappointed. The words were too familiar. I knew the cafe, the waiting for the mail to come in, waiting for the cheque, the tab at the bar, the comeraderie along the waterfront, the white houses, the blue water, the donkeys, the relationsips, the travellers arriving, the parties with the rich people, filling the cistern, the girl who cleaned the house, going without. If paraphrasing lyrics was evident, then I think paraphrasing other works is now too.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby jdhayes » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:30 pm

A review appeared in yesterday's (24/11/12) Irish Independent (Review section). Maybe somebody could create a link. Sorry, don't know how to get it.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby sirius » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:14 pm

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons – review

A masterful biography of Leonard Cohen reveals a selfish man with irresistible charm

Kitty Empire
The Observer, Sunday 25 November 2012


http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/no ... hen-review

Image
'One of popular music’s most unflinching sages': Leonard Cohen in 1960. Photograph: Roz Kelly/Getty Images

This notorious ladies' man, Leonard Cohen biographer Sylvie Simmons concludes more than once in her enthralling, meticulously researched account, would have made a very good rabbi. Never mind that Cohen – poet, singer, 78 – is also an ordained Buddhist; had attained the grade of Senior Dianetic, Grade IV Release in the Church of Scientology in 1969 before falling out with the organisation; and knows a hell of a lot about scripture. A grandson of a rabbi, Cohen was born into a priestly class in Montreal's old, thriving Jewish community. But a keen interest in the profane – in sex and drugs, if not exactly rock'n'roll – has made him, instead, one of popular music's most unflinching sages.

Fans of long-standing will know Cohen as the singer-songwriter's singer-songwriter, whose devastating verses have the tensile strength of haikus. Those of us in his thrall, Simmons included, have no trouble claiming that he leaves Dylan in the dust for skewering the human condition. Songs about break-ups and hard-ons sit next to prostrations before higher powers, often female, just as often, unknowable. With his depressive's grasp of the puny moral wraiths we are comes an active sense of the absurd, too, and some hair-raising tales.

The time when Cohen single-handedly stopped a riot at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival is well-documented. Less well known is the time his band, only weeks earlier, arrived onstage at a French festival on horseback and were derided for acting like rock stars. Or when, in 1977, while working on the Death of a Ladies' Man album, producer Phil Spector puts a gun to Cohen's neck and tells him he loves him. "I hope you do, Phil," replies Cohen with characteristic dryness.

Latterly, though, Cohen has reached a wider renown as "that guy who wrote Hallelujah", now a TV talent competition staple, whose many ironies include the fact that its parent album was rejected by his record company in 1983. Hallelujah's path to ubiquity has so many meanders that there is an entire book devoted to it, due out in December. Simmons explores it here in the context of a long career in which Cohen's songs often go on to have lives of their own, often for other paymasters. His effusive Russian mother warns him to beware of shysters, a warning that would come to be prophetic.

As befits the authorised biographer, Simmons assiduously tracks all Cohen's works – the poetry, fiction and music – as components of the same artistic arc, painstakingly interviewing his literary peers, producers and session musicians, as well as the key female figures in Cohen's mythology – the sainted Marianne Ihlen (So Long, Marianne); the Montreal Suzanne of the tea and oranges; Suzanne Elrod, the mother of his children; and latterday partners Rebecca De Mornay and Anjani Thomas. Dozens get away; the interplay in art of Cohen's convoluted love life could easily fill another 600 pages on its own.

If Simmons's book has a weak spot, it is one she alludes to throughout: everyone, but everyone, is putty in Cohen's hands. Only two people have a bad word to say here about the selfish, philandering, commitment-phobic vagabond who dumps his women to go off and hang out in war zones such as Cuba (Marianne) and Israel (Suzanne Elrod, who'd just given birth to their first child, Adam). The son of his former manager, Steven Machat, confesses he never liked him, but helps him nonetheless.

Even his then-partner Anjani Thomas's ex-husband, a music industry lawyer, gives Cohen his legal time for free and eventually becomes his manager. How? Simmons posits the young Cohen was a great hypnotist, who practised on the maid. (A 1985 poem, "Days Of Kindness", apologises to Marianne and her son, Axel.)

With a delicious grasp of karma, the zeitgeist wound its way back round to Cohen in 2004, when a financial betrayal of the greatest magnitude struck. Semi-retired, Cohen was a practising monk at the Mt Baldy centre outside Los Angeles, serving his long-time master, the centenarian Roshi Joshu Sasaki, when he heard through the grapevine that all his money was gone. His trusted longtime manager, Kelley Lynch, had been draining his accounts. A long, ugly legal battle ensued, one that, alone, could yet again fill another tome, involving complex suits and counter-suits, bikinis and Swat teams; Simmons handles it all masterfully.

So the sage reluctantly came down from the mountain and started singing for his supper again. Latterday albums – 2004's Dear Heather and this year's Old Ideas – and a valedictory two-year world tour have, belatedly, established Cohen as a household name and earned him more money than he lost ($10m-$13m, Simmons reckons).

Gossips might want to know more about the scene when Suzanne turfs Marianne out of the house on the island of Hydra. Perhaps this might not be the biography that Cohen, the man, deserves. But it is the definitive volume on the guy right at the top of the tower of song.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby blonde madonna » Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:29 am

Was it an authorised biography? My understanding was that Cohen didn't object to it and gave her the odd interview (which didn't reveal much at all), that doesn't make it authorised.

I too wanted to know more about Suzanne Elrod because that period of Cohen's life interests me greatly, she really got to him - the anger in is work (poetry and song) around that time was blistering. I find modern day Cohen the serene Buddhist monk evasive and slightly boring.

The biography itself was an easy read but I was disappointed at the lack of any new information or analysis in it. The big deal she made out of his relationship with Rebecca De Mornay was just silly.

I am waiting for a researched literary biography, hopefully not written by a 'fan'.
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby comehealing » Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:40 pm

To a certain extent, I agree with you. Didn't Leonard warn Sylvie not to write a hagiography? However, still think the book
is riveting.

You write:
I find modern day Cohen the serene Buddhist monk evasive and slightly boring.
Am sure that he would raise a wry chuckle at this. I would argue, after having led a life less ordinary, this isn't a bad position
to be in as one approaches one's ninth decade (I hope that I am in a similar bill of health 50 years hence). His recent work is anything
but boring and the performances - well, the three that I have been blessed to see, all electrifying.

The man has got style, in abundance.
Alexis
"Who, being loved, is poor?"
(Oscar Wilde)
"That love is all there is" (Emily Dickinson)
"A miracle, just take a look around: The inescapable earth" (Wislawa Szymborska)
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby blonde madonna » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:10 pm

Hi comehealing, you disagreed with me so nicely :D

I wasn't disrespecting the man himself, who has every right to be enigmatic as a way of guarding his privacy. My comments were in relation to the boring bits of the book. I want to read a biography that doesn't edit Cohen's work to accommodate his legend status, that doesn't gloss over the relationship break downs and the dark aspects of his life and then emphasise the Hollywood star girlfriend, all the awards he has won and his years serving Roshi.

I am glad you enjoyed his concerts so much, I also was not implying they were boring, it was the book that was boring (in parts).
1980 -- Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
1985 -- State Theatre, Melbourne
2008 -- Hamilton, Toronto, Cardiff
2009 -- Rochford Winery, Yarra Valley
2010 -- Melbourne
2013 -- Melbourne, The Hill Winery, Geelong, Auckland
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comehealing
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby comehealing » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:35 pm

Hi Blonde Madonna, lol, I do aspire to be polite :)

I thought that this might be the case. Wonder whether this is the same for
any biography, namely that it will be driven/skewed by the writer's biases/likings/
dislikes etc?

For every artist, I often think that the biography is often in the work, if one
unpicks the words etc. This is why I think "Old Ideas" is such a seminal album.

:)
Alexis
"Who, being loved, is poor?"
(Oscar Wilde)
"That love is all there is" (Emily Dickinson)
"A miracle, just take a look around: The inescapable earth" (Wislawa Szymborska)
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby holydove » Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:22 pm

comehealing wrote: I thought that this might be the case. Wonder whether this is the same for
any biography, namely that it will be driven/skewed by the writer's biases/likings/
dislikes etc?

For every artist, I often think that the biography is often in the work, if one
unpicks the words etc. This is why I think "Old Ideas" is such a seminal album.
:)
comehealing, I think what you say is true, & Leonard has been asked about writing an autobiography & in fact, he said that his body of work is his autobiography (and what an amazing autobiography it is, isn't it. . .); but just for the record, I do love Sylvie's book too, & I'm very glad that someone who loves & respects Leonard has written it (don't we already have 1 or 2 biographies by people who don't have, um, that kind of respect for him?). Actually, Leonard's "autobiography" is full of, shall we say, the opposite of "hagiography" & IMO, he deprecates himself quite enough, & I have no desperate need to hear other writers echoing his self-criticism. What could they possibly say that Leonard hasn't already said about himself?
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Re: New Leonard Cohen biography by Sylvie Simmons (Fall 2012

Postby Cheshire gal » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:23 am

I enjoyed Sylvie Simmons book. Some information we have read before but some that will be new to most of us. I especially loved the line about Leonard going down from Mt. Baldy and stopping off at McDonalds for a filet-o-fish and then a good bottle of wine afterwards.... :lol: :lol:
'...and here's a man still working for your little smile' -Leonard Cohen
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