I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen (Shelf Awareness)

[4 stars]

British music journalist Sylvie Simmons (Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes) decodes the peculiar enigma of songwriter/poet/Buddhist monk Leonard Cohen in I’m Your Man, a hefty but spirited biography. Displaying the fruits of comprehensive research, Simmons reports the fascinating details of Cohen’s life as well as the way those life events combined with the mechanics of artistry to create a body of work that has inspired fans as diverse as Lou Reed, Philip Glass and Jeff Buckley. This is a revelatory biography that investigates not just an artist’s life, but the life of his art.

Simmons traces Cohen’s path from a wealthy Jewish enclave in Montreal through his early successes as a bohemian poet in Canada, his time on an idyllic Greek island, his residence in Manhattan’s famous Chelsea Hotel and all the concert halls, spiritual retreats, park benches and Spartan domiciles where his oft-tormented life has played out. She balances a deserved reverence for the power of Cohen’s words, music–and that incredible voice–with a gimlet eye to the rather frail, fallible human who created them. It’s been said you either “get” Leonard Cohen or you don’t. After reading I’m Your Man, both those who hear the voice of an ironic god in Cohen’s sonorous drawl and those who consider it “music to slit your wrists to” will understand where the music and poetry come from. —Cherie Ann Parker, freelance journalist and book critic

Discover: A definitive, revelatory portrait of the iconic Canadian songwriter and poet.

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