I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, by Sylvie Simmons (The Irish Times)

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.

by Cathy Dillon for The Irish Times

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