Next Tuesday, May 21, the event I’m Your Man: An Evening Celebrating The Words and Music of Leonard Cohen will be taking place at the Carterton Events Centre from 7.30pm. See here for tickets/further information.
I’ve previewed the event already – it will feature a range of Cohen’s songs performed by local musicians including members of the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra, French For Rabbits, Jesse Sheehan, Eb & Sparrow, John The Baptist, Brassed Off and Bear Bailey.
And the evening will feature songs and discussion with Miss Sylvie Simmons, Mojo contributor, storied music journalist, musician and author. Simmons’ recent biography of Leonard Cohen is the definitive take on the poet’s life. It’s a fantastic read. And the book has sent Simmons around the world on a promotional victory lap, sharing the songs of Cohen and stories from his life.
At this event we will also hear stories from Simmons’ life. She’ll be speaking about the book, reading from the book and, as a ukulele enthusiast, she’ll be sharing her versions of some of Cohen’s songs – something she has done regularly under the Sylvie Sings Lenny banner.
Since publishing the book – as a way to promote it, to celebrate Cohen’s life, to provide more than just the standard promotional interview – Simmons has been combining literary and musical events. She’ll be available to sign copies of the book and – as a part of the evening – I’ll be sharing the stage to join Simmons in conversation about the book and to share some stories from her life as a music writer.
Simmons was on the bus with Van Halen and Black Sabbath back in the day, she’s previously written books about Neil Young and Serge Gainsbourg, and the fiction collection, Too Weird For Ziggy. She contributes the Americana column to Mojo magazine and has interviewed every big name in popular music. She’s been infuriatingly stood up by Van Morrison, held her own against the always crotchety Lou Reed, shared ukulele stories with Robert Plant and has been a lifelong fan of Leonard Cohen’s music.
She knows Cohen has seen her book; he has a copy, he approved of the project – gave her his blessing. She interviewed him for the book. But she doesn’t know if he’s read it. She told me recently on the phone that she was “too English to ask” and he was “too Canadian to tell”. She believes Cohen has not read the book – that he’s at peace with his past and doesn’t need to re-live it but was happy to have it re-told.
So join us next Tuesday at the Carterton Events Centre for an evening of words and music; an evening dedicated to the wit and wisdom of Leonard Cohen, an evening in celebration of the accomplishments of Sylvie Simmons, one of the greatest music writers in the world. We’re so lucky to have her visiting us here. We’re so lucky to have her book. And she has so many stories to share beyond that.
by Simon Sweetman for “Off The Tracks”