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.
“[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.”
“I’m Your Man is the major, soul-searching biography that Leonard Cohen deserves... a mesmerizing labor of love.”
“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.”
“A new gold standard of Cohen bios.”
“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.”
“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.
Singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen is one of the most important and influential musical artists of the past fifty years—and one of the most elusive. In I’m Your Man, journalist Sylvie Simmons, one of the foremost chroniclers of the world of rock ’n’ roll and popular music, explores the extraordinary life and creative genius of Leonard Cohen.
I’m Your Man is an intimate and insightful appreciation of the man responsible for “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Hallelujah,” and so many other unforgettable, oft-covered ballads and songs. Based on Simmons’s unparalleled access to Cohen—and written with her hallmark blend of intelligence, integrity, and style—I’m Your Man is the definitive biography of a major musical artist widely considered in a league with the great Bob Dylan.
Readers of Life by Rolling Stone Keith Richards and Patti Smith’s phenomenal Just Kids will be riveted by this fascinating portrait of a singular musical icon.