The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen: new biography (2010)

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tomsakic
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Re: The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen: new biography (201

Postby tomsakic » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:53 pm

Doron, I finished the book and I have some positive thoughts, along with Dick - e.g. this material gathered by Mr. Reynolds (i.e. brand new info and interviews about album sessions) would work greatly if he decided to do new version of Omnibus Press' pocket monograph Guide to the Music of LC, with each chapter dedicated to each album's production and songs description.

Now, when biography is in question, there are some points which lead me to highly suspect Mr. Reynold's ability to write about Leonard Cohen in particular. I mean, beside that Spender-Valery error, he also calls film noir "cinema noir" (!!!) what's highly unlikely for any educated man. But the main problem are awful mistakes, like description of "Wollen sie total Krieg" affair as 1979 tour event (it was in 1972 and it is finely depicted in Tony Palmer's movie). That means that he did not see Palmer's movie, even the bootleg. Also, it is clear that not only he never saw live show, but that he missed to see some important stuff on YouTube or if he did, he didn't have a clue what it is.

Like the description of the Democracy video as "home made". There was NEVER a released Democracy video, and the clip on You Tube was released in 2008 or so, and Leonard wrote to our Forum that it was failed attempt at video clip which was never released, from the press kit which was not used, so we concluded that somebody in SonyBMG running Leonard's YouTube channel found that video and didn't know this... But that did not stop Mr Reynolds to comment on video in length.

In similar fashion he keeps mentioning singles, like The Future being released only in Spain... Research, research! ALL SINGLES are listed here on The Files and anybody can easily see Leonard's radio success in countries from Portugal via France to Italy, and Yugoslavia - http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/rarities.html and http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/vinyls.html and http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/master.html

Also he comments how Julie Christensen (or Christianson or Julia etc., he keeps changing her name) went to 1993 tour just being married, and how big deal that was - the big deal was that she was in high month of pregnancy and you can clearly see that on any 1993 video on You Tube, e.g. Barcelona or Frankfurt clips from May 1993. Also, he did not interview Perla or at least add that she came into the band through Julie, what's known, but we heard two times that Julie was having love problems in 1988 and that becoming a part of LC's tour helped her.

Etc.

I used word "superficial" few times - the correct word is "confused" book. But as I say, it became much better after he reached first album, so it would work as book about album sessions and as a guide through all the albums and songs as was Maurice Ratcliff's previous book, which is sadly so out of date. But a "biography", common. "Remarkable life", where? It is a book about the albums' production and sessions only.

Also, it is not only about the errors and proof-reading, it is that this book does not have an EDITOR. It would be much better if somebody removed or rearranged the confused chapters about what happen after or before what, and erased some repetitions. I.e. in the pages about 1979 tour, Reynolds wonder why there was no Spanish dates (because they were in late 1980), and then mentions Australian tour in early 1980 and how the tour was over and next paragrapgh says that LC did not have any tour or album in the plan... And then in next chapter, about the 1980s, he repeats that, but then mentions tour of 1980 (which included Spain), and forgets how he wondered about the absence of Spanish dates in 1979... I mean, okay, it was the new decade, but it was the same tour with the same band! And if cared enough to listen any of the radio recordings (Tel Aviv, Amsterdam) he could easily mention brand new version of Do I Have to Dance All Night and some of early songs which are important for late 1980 shows. But his insight into Leonard is so bad that he does not know there was live album being mixed in 1980 and 1981, but Columbia declined it so it was released only in early 2001 (that's Field Commander Cohen), and that first version was supposed to include new songs like Billy Sunday, recorded live. Of course, there is bootleg of that unreleased record, and many of us have it (e.g. I have it on CDR).
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Re: The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen: new biography (201

Postby DBCohen » Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:37 am

Tom,

Thanks for all the informative details. As for the principles, I’ve said similar things in my review of the book (on the Files), i.e., that Reynolds should have focused on the music and not try to write a biography. Although there are some problems with that aspect too, as you have also pointed out, at least in that sphere he has some original material through the interviews. Unfortunately, his work was very sloppy in all departments; I’ve also pointed out that he was not really aware of the contents of Tony Palmer’s film, and that the book had no real editor. Your suggestion for a different book in the Omnibus pocket guides series is a sound one, but I suspect nobody there cares enough about it to put in all the extra work - neither the publishers, nor, to judge by his responses here, the author.
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Re: The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen: new biography (201

Postby tomsakic » Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:20 pm

I read your review again now, and I think you were too gentle regarding the book:)

As I say, I even don't the errors in proof-reading but sloppiness and lack of LC related facts and knowledge is beyond my comprehension. In last chapters we did not hear anything about 1993 tour or album production and abandoned sessions (i.e. The Future's erlier titles were Be for Real and Busted, and two extra tracls on More Best Of were supposed to be on new, late-90s studio album, along with first version of A Thousand Kisses Deep) and 2000s are badly covered, as LC was present here on this site from 1999 (we even have the voting for The Essential tracks on the forum) and my recollections on 2004-2008 pre-tour period is much more energetic and vivid as there was flux of Cohen activities plus Book of Longing was prolonged from 2002 to 2006 many times and we followed that here on the Forum. We also did not learn much about the 2008-2010 tour, except how Hallett came into the story. As for the Lynch affair, he fails to mention the most important part of it - it was not only about 5-6 millions (what was sadly small worth of Cohen's life achievement in music) but it was that those millions were made by selling the whole back catalogue to Sony on false premises (Lynch did not tell Cohen that he has at least 250,000 incomes yearly by air play in Europe plus royalties from Hallelujah and other covers) so the main fact is that Cohen does not own royalties for his songs up to Dear Heather and Blue Alert! (Ten New Songs was also included in sale.) Lets hope he can buy it back now when he made substantial money.

Now the interesting thing would be to have story from Machat-Cohen relationship as the perspective... I found it very interesting to read between the lines, how after Spector affair and what LC said to Steven Machat re: Spector, 1) Cohen self-produced 1979 album which was NOT promoted by Columbia very much and as far I know Machat was not much involved in the 1979-80 tour (although Reynolds says he slept and traveled with the band in 1972), and 2) Leonard then called Lissauer for 1983 sessions of Various Positions and Machat wasn't involved (and never paid Lissauer) and then 3) LC HIMSELF (!) went to negotiate with Yeltnikoff when album was not released (and he had Machat as big shot manager behind him and still, he alone went to the label and the fact that label turned the album down is the management's direct responsibility). I'd say that apparently after Spector it was like before, and it was rightly so as Machat did - in a wider and historical perspective - harm LC's career enormously (and his son Steven is right when he said that his father should be happy that Cohen did not fire him). And first thing after 1988 break-up with Machat was that LC negotiated the rights for Suzanne back and he has enormously succesfull album as well with full support from the label.
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Re: The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen: new biography (201

Postby DBCohen » Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:48 pm

Yes, I was being polite… And, as I’ve already stated on another occasion, you are a hundred floors above me in the tower of LC scholarship 8)
I hope S. S. is aware of all those details, and will be able to incorporate them in her eagerly-awaited book.
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Re: The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen: new biography (201

Postby tomsakic » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:41 pm

Argh, I could rumble until tomorrow about REAL lack of knowledge in this book (it's not errors). Like the info that for I Am a Hotel LC recorded new versions of old songs. That is not true - he used the album versions, it is enough to heard Suzanne... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBMlVSh1FhE How can somebody mistake Leonard's voice and sound in 1983 with his voice and sound from 1967?
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Re: The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen: new biography (201

Postby Stamatina » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:49 pm

tomsakic wrote:How can somebody mistake Leonard's voice and sound in 1983 with his voice and sound from 1967?
Not even deafness could excuse that.

You know, I found this book (in English) here in Greece and I intended to go back to the store and buy it, but you've discouraged me endlessly, Tom. :razz: I also don't seem to possess the vast knowledge on mr Cohen's life and career that you do, so I suppose I shouldn't risk being misinformed.
Thanks very much for the lovely reviews! :)
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Re: The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen: new biography (201

Postby msadurski » Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:53 am

600 errors?
OMG!
Where can I see that list? :-)
Anyway I've just bought the book (Polish edition, InRock 2012 based on the original Omnibus Press 2010 edition - so I have no idea whether it is the original original or revisited one) and discovered this thread.
Well, I do not like the blog-alike preface but later on is better.
btw the error no. 601:
Reynolds suggests that Cohen visited Poland for the first earlier then in 1985. He says he met briefly with his Polish translator at the Warsaw Airport in 1981. This cannot be truth. Zembaty never mentioned it. And knowing him he would have done it if such meeting had occurred.

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