By Richard K. Barry
The New York Times reviewed a new biography of Leonard Cohen on Sunday. It’s called I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, by Sylvie Simmons, published by Ecco / Harper Collins. Simmons is, as the review states, a “well-known British rock-jounalist and author of biographies of Neil Young and Serge Gainsbourg.”
It’s a quite positive review by A.M. Holmes, who marvels at information contained in the 570 page offering that even committed Cohen aficionados might not yet have come across.
Holmes concludes with this, which certainly makes you want to pick it up:
“I’m Your Man” is an exhaustive biography, an illumination of an artist who has repeatedly said he’s not much of a self-examiner. Among the book’s side effects is that it sends you back to the source material; as you’re reading, you find yourself craving Cohen’s music in the background. In her interview excerpts, Simmons captures the elliptical nature of Cohen’s speech, the wry turns of phrase that are almost like stand-up comedy. Behind it all are a smirk and a wink; you know that Cohen knows how absurd it all is.
And 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. As Leonard Cohen sings in “Anthem”: “Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.”
That last lines reminds us that there is only one Leonard Cohen. Here’s the aforementioned “Anthem”:
(Cross-posted at Hogtown Hipster.)