The genius behind such classic songs as Suzanne, Bird on the Wire and Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, a man of spirituality, emotion, and intelligence whose work has explored the definitive issues of human life - sex, religion, power, meaning, love.
Yet before he even began recording, Cohen was an accomplished literary figure whose poetry and novels brought him considerable recognition. His dual careers in music and literature have transformed one another, his songs revealing a literary quality rare in the world of popular music, and his poetry and prose informed by a rich musicality. I'm Your Man explores the facets of Cohen's life – from his early childhood in Montreal, to his entrée into the worlds of literature and music, his immersion in Jewish culture, obsession with Christian imagery, and deep commitment to Buddhist detachment – including the five years he spent at a monastery outside of Los Angeles and his ordainment as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist Monk.
Sylvie Simmons draws on Cohen's private archives and a wealth of interviews with many of his closest associates, colleagues, and other artists whose work he has inspired, as well as professors, Buddhist monks and rabbis, to share stories and details never before revealed, and correct mistakes propounded in previous works. Unlike other biographies, I'm Your Man gives equal time to Cohen's poetry and prose and balances his intellectual and religious sides. The result is this deeply insightful, well-rounded portrait of an artist whose reach, vision, and incredible talent has had a profound impact on multiple generations and who continues to create magic today.
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Cohen gets the music biography he truly deserves (5 stars). - Mojo
The year’s most meticulous, elegant and satisfying rock book. - Independent
Simmons’ clear affection for her subject helps to illuminate Cohen’s motivations and working methods and gives an intriguing insight into his singular mind. - Sunday Times
Simmons approaches her subject intelligently, and without a trace of the hysteria that Cohen so often inspires… If you weren't familiar with Cohen, I'm Your Man would read like a beautifully plotted piece of fiction, with an extraordinary and bewitching character at its centre. - Independent on Sunday
Simmons situates her subject well both in the Jewish tradition (if not a singer he would have made a fantastic Rabbi) and in his generation. - Evening Standard
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. - Scotsman
In terms of traditional biography you won’t find better that Sylvie Simmons’... Simmons loves language, hates cliché and takes her time... [she] recreates long-gone incidents with such vigour that you’d swear Simmons was there at the time, sitting in the corner and taking notes. - Guardian
A well-rounded portrait of the poet-singer…his dry wit finds an echo in Simmons’s phrase-making. - Financial Times
Sylvie Simmons, who had plenty of practice in her previous study of Serge Gainsbourg, handles this old charmer with aplomb, painting a magnificently detailed and affectionate portrait of the artist without romanticising him. - Daily Telegraph
Enthralling, meticulously researched…definitive volume on the guy right at the top of the tower of song. - Observer
Sylvie Simmons, a British-born journalist working from San Francisco, has turned in a fine example of what a rock biography should be. - Independent
Simmons’ stunning biography leaves you wanting more: more on Cohen, more from Cohen an more music biographis as meticulously researched and engagingly written as this…there is no shortage of Cohen studies out there, now there’s no need for any more. - Record Collector
An absorbing and well-rounded biography of the downbeat Canadian troubadour. - Sunday Telegraph
Simmons – a music journalist of impeccable pedigree – triumphantly rises to all challenges. Certainly the depth of her research can’t be faltered. - Spectator
Simmons has done a bang-up job in this comprehensive and well-written biography. Hers I think will be the bench-mark in Leonard Cohen studies. - Jewish Chronicle
Perceptive and diligently researched. - Herald
Fascinating read. - Sun
This hefty and thorough book…I’m Your Man is a triumph of research. - Uncut
A brilliant study – contextualised, critical, annotated. - Independent
Sylvie Simmons is a renowned music journalist and award-winning writer. A Londoner, she moved to LA in the late seventies where she began writing about rock music for Sounds, Creem and Kerrang!, then Rolling Stone, the Guardian and MOJO. She is the author of fiction and non-fiction books, including the acclaimed Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes, Neil Young: Reflections in Broken Glass and the short story collection Too Weird for Ziggy. She currently lives in San Francisco, where she plays ukulele and still writes for MOJO.