I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, by Sylvie Simmons

Paperback review

Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 12:05

   
 

Book Title:
I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen

ISBN-13:
978-0099549321

Author:
Sylvie Simmons

Publisher:
Vintage

Guideline Price:
Sterling9.99

As his fellow musician Will Oldham observed recently, the reason people love Leonard Cohen is that his work is both democratic and transcendent. Given his importance and longevity, Cohen deserves a decent biography, and Simmons, a veteran rock journalist, has written it. I’m Your Man is sympathetic without being a hagiography, thorough and intelligent. Even Cohen’s famously ardent fans might baulk at the prospect of ploughing through 500 pages about the great man, but they needn’t: Simmons may not reveal anything much we didn’t know, but she fills in the background in fine detail. And it’s fascinating: the upper-class childhood in Montreal with the loving but smothering mother; the early years as a poet and novelist; the idyllic years on Hydra with Marianne Ihlen; the numerous affairs with the famous – Joni Mitchell, Rebecca de Mornay – and the not so famous; the drugs; the Buddhism; and the enforced return to touring after being swindled out of all his money by his former business manager, which has given him a new lease of life in his 70s. A treat.