I'm Your Man
I'm Your Man
The Life of Leonard Cohen
Ecco Press, Hardcover, 9780061994982, 570pp.
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
The legend behind such songs as Suzanne, Bird on the Wire and Hallelujah andthe poet and novelist behind such groundbreaking literary works as Beautiful Losers and Book of Mercy, Leonard Cohen is one of the most important and influential artists of our era, a man of powerful emotion and intelligence whose work has explored the definitive issues of human life sex, religion, power, meaning, love. Cohen is also a man of complexities and seeming contradictions: a devout Jew, who is also a sophisticate and ladies man, as well as an ordained Buddhist monk whose name, Jikan ordinary silence is quite the appellation for a writer and singer whose life has been anything but ordinary.
I m Your Man is the definitive account of that extraordinary life. Acclaimed music journalist Sylvie Simmons crafts a portrait of Cohen as nuanced as the man himself, drawing on a wealth of research that includes Cohen's personal archives and more than a hundred exclusive interviews with those closest to Cohen from his lovers, friends, monks, professors, rabbis and fellow musicians to his muses, including Rebecca De Mornay, Marianne Ihlen, Suzanne Elrod and Suzanne Verdal and most important, with Cohen himself, whose presence infuses these pages.
Starting in Montreal, Cohen's birthplace, where he first found fame as a poet in the fifties, Simmons follows his trail, via London and the Greek island of Hydra, to New York in the sixties, where he launched his music career. From there she traces the arc of his prodigious achievements to his remarkable retreat in the mid-nineties when on the cusp of marriage to a beautiful actress and enjoying the success of his best-selling album to date, he entered a monastery on a rocky mountaintop above Los Angeles and finally to his reemergence for a sold-out world tour almost fifteen years later. Whether navigating Cohen's journeys through the back streets of Mumbai or the countless hotel rooms where he has stayed along the way, Simmons explores with equal focus every complex, contradictory strand of Cohen's life from the halls of academia to the arenas of rock n roll and presents a deeply insightful portrait of both the artist and the man whose vision, spirit, depth and talent continue to move people like no one else.
“I’m Your Man is the major, soul-searching biography that Leonard Cohen deserves... a mesmerizing labor of love.”
-Janet Maslin, New York Times
“A thoughtful celebration of the artist’s life...Simmons has deftly narrated Cohen’s evolution... In the end, this biography has the oddest effect: as soon as you finish reading it you feel an overwhelming impulse to go back and begin again, revisiting the story with what you’ve learned along the way.”
-A.M. Homes, New York Times Book Review
“A new gold standard of Cohen bios.”
-Los Angeles Times
“This is the bio Cohen has long deserved, and it makes every prior Cohen book practically unnecessary.”
-Rolling Stone, 4 1/2 Stars
“The book is a seductive tribute to a master seducer.”
-The Onion A.V. Club
“A deep, enlightening book. . . Simmons, a music journalist and short-story writer, knows how to research and write and keep a critical distance from Cohen, who opens up some but uses his usual weapons, politeness and self-deprecation, to maintain an air of mystery.”
-The Oregonian (Portland)
“Leonard fought darkness through his work and... the light ultimately prevailed when he triumphantly toured the world for three years beginning in 2008... ‘You could hear the hairs stand up on people’s arms,’ writes Simmons of the hushed reverence of his audience. This book demands a similar reaction.”
-MOJO Magazine, 5 Stars
“This is a revelatory biography that investigates not just an artist’s life, but the life of his art.”
“In I’m Your Man, we see not only the life of one man who was transformed by words, but how we ourselves may be transformed by them.”
-New York Jewish Week
“Simmons’ rich, compelling and provocative book... 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.”
-Jewish Journal Los Angeles
“Simmons is a wonderful writer... the book informs like carefully researched non-fiction, but engages like enchanting fiction... Like listening to one of Cohen’s songs, this complex, beautiful biography requires you to think about it. This book will stay with you. It will change the way you hear Leonard Cohen.”
“[A] vibrant and enthusiastic chronicle... Carefully weaving the threads of all of his songs and albums through the patterns of his life, Simmons craftily explores the themes that regularly mark Cohen’s work: desire, regret, suffering, love, hope, and hamming it up.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In this elegantly crafted biography, Simmons captures the artist who, in spite of all his highs and lows, is still sharp at the edges, a wise old monk, a trouper offering up himself and his songs.”
“Exquisitely researched and elegantly written.”
-Dallas Morning News
“The success of Simmons’ book is the way it deftly integrates each facet in a unified portrait.”
-San Jose Mercury News
“Cohen is a complex man and Sylvie Simmons has captured every essence of it in her remarkable book. This is a deeply insightful portrait that is guaranteed to haunt the reader much like his “Suzanne” and “Bird on the Wire.”
-The Tuscon Citizen
“Compelling biography. . . A must for anyone interested in one of the most influential songwriters of our time.”
-Booklist (starred review)
Our list of this year's best biographies focuses on books about individuals who lived their lives off the beaten path. From the story of a spy turned chef to the story of the real Count of Monte Cristo, these books chronicle subjects who refused to conform to the expectations of others. More at NPR.org
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