Brazilian press loves I’m Your Man: A Vida De Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

SS & LC, pic by LC on imac

The Brazilan press has hailed the new Portuguese edition of I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen with rave reviews.

Estado newspaper wrote that it “offers the deepest picture ever seen of one of the most complicated artists [in] the pop universe – Cohen was not just a writer and never just a musician. What Sylvie was able to do in I’, Your Man is throw Cohen open, taking you through so many strands of the lives he lived… the mechanics of feeling… what is love.”,leonard-cohen–icone-na-literatura-e-na-musica–ganha-biografia-capaz-de-decifrar-sua-complexidade,10000027814

UCSFM wrote, “By exposing the fascinating intimacy of the Canadian artist, Simmonsnot only quenches the curiosity of fans but reveals the uniqueness of one of the most brilliant minds of our time. In I’m Your Man the reader will be able to contemplate a privileged perspective, the unique spirituality of a man who questioned and felt all the mysteries of human existence with delivery and passion.”

O Globo newspaper featured an interview with Sylvie and a link to one of her songs:

The Brazilian edition is published by Editora BestSeller in Brazil and contains a 16 page glossy insert of photographs, many in color.

Sylvie, meanwhile, has been in Los Angeles performing with the celebrated, all-male, a capella Leonard Cohen tribute Conspiracy of Beards, opening their shows with a full set of her own and Cohen’s songs, and joining the 24-piece choir as their guest singer on Leonard Cohen’s song ‘The Window’. Her last show with the group will be on Sunday May 8th at the beautiful Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California. See ‘Tour’ for more details.


Leonard Cohen gets a Brazilian (edition!)

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

12961282_10154727175504377_2657886490893315596_oA Brazilian Portuguese-language version of I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen – the 19th edition of the acclaimed 2012 biography – will be released next week. Translated by Patrícia Azeredo, I’m Your Man: A Vida De Leonard Cohen is published by Editora BestSeller and costs R$ 79.90

Watch out for interviews with Sylvie in O Globo  and other Brazilian newspapers and magazines in the days to come!

Bon Anniversaire!

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Unknown-1 copy 2If Serge Gainsbourg hadn’t died a quarter of a century ago, today he would be celebrating his 88th birthday. Quel homme – et quel enfant terrible!

Sylvie is working with Light In The Attic records on a podcast devoted to Gainsbourg and his music.

Meanwhile, if you want to check out the expanded digital edition of Sylvie’s acclaimed biography Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes, here’s the link.


One of a kind

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

11112575_10153719314354377_1262911497517421627_nSylvie joined Charlie Daniels at BMI Nashville today to speak at a memorial tribute to Bob Johnston  – the legendary record producer and man behind many of the last century’s greatest artists’ greatest albums: Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Johnny Cash to name just a handful. Here’s an excerpt from what she said:-

Look up the words ‘one of a kind’ and you’ll see a picture of a wiry Texan with red-brown hair and beard and fire in his eyes. All of us who knew Johnston know how fiercely that fire blazed. And what kept it burning was an unassailable belief – in art and music and creative freedom – and an unshakeable resistance to authority and whoever might stand in his or their way. As Bob Dylan wrote in his memoir Chronicles, Bobwas born one hundred years too late, he should have been wearing a wide cape, a plumed hat and riding with his sword held high… Bob Johnston was unreal.”

Bob was a badd ass, a guardian angel and a music man. He was born to be in music. His grandmother Mamie Jo Adams, his mom Diane Johnston and his wife Joy Byers, who is here today – all these women wrote songs and so did Bob.

His greatest fame, though, was as a record producer. Some of the greatest American albums of the last century bear his name – significant, life-changing albums, each a revelation and a testament to Bob Johnston’s ability to put the right musicians together, block interference, let what happens happen, cheer it along and roll the tapes You know what they were; some of the people in this room played on them.

They include six of Dylan’s greatest albums, from Highway 61 to New Morning, and, at the same time, Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest records Sounds Of Silence and Parsley, Sage. Bob told me how he’d work with Dylan until midnight and Dylan would keep asking, “What did you do with Paul last night?” then from midnight to dawn he’d be in the studio with Paul Simon, who’d keep asking, “What did you do with Dylan?”

Bob had 27 artists during that period. Another of them was Leonard Cohen, with whom Bob made three albums. Leonard told me had it not been for Bob he might never have made a second album at all, since his experience of recording his debut was so hellish. But then he ran into Bob in LA, who persuaded him to come here by renting him Felice and Boudleax Byrant’s log cabin, promising Leonard to make the album that Leonard, not the label wanted, and finding him the perfect band – including Ron Cornelius and Charlie Daniels, here today, two men who also came to Nashville because of Bob.

At Leonard Cohen’s request, Bob also joined his touring band in 1970, acting as his keyboard player and manager (at Bob’s insistence unpaid manager – Bob was a man for whom the business part of the music business took far less prominence than a person of his prominence merited. Bob wasn’t one to turn down his artist’s request – but it also didn’t hurt that Bob had just quit Columbia, and the idea of celebrating this with a trip around Europe, at his former employers’ expense struck him as a fine one! Another of his good ideas was persuading Cohen and the band to ride onstage at a French rock festival on horseback, but that’s a whole other story.

And let’s not forget Johnny Cash. The two classic prison albums At Folsom and At San Quentin – Cash told me he’d been trying to record a prison album for years but Columbia had refused to let him do it. But when Bob Johnston became head of Columbia Nashville – a position, I should say, that did nothing to moderate his feelings towards the suits – that changed, in spite of angry calls from Clive Davis threatening to drop them both. It was Johnston who got Cash and Dylan to record together. He tricked Columbia into allowing their duet to appear on Nashville Skyline – how did he pull that off? He simply refused to let anyone from the record company into the studio and put a fake name on the tape box.

“I truly believe”, Bob Dylan once said of Bob, “that in a couple of hundred years they’ll find out he was a prophet. I think he is the only prophet we’ve had since Jesus.” Bob Johnston would have made a pretty wild prophet. I’m sure a lot of us know some of the tales he could tell and did tell – and that I daren’t tell at a memorial. And there were so many stories.

Bob and I first talked a couple of decades ago when I interviewed him for an article I was writing on Johnny Cash. Over the years there were many more interviews and conversations on different subjects, including my Leonard Cohen biography, and also many of those long telephone conversations you have with someone who becomes a friend. I’ll miss those out-of-the blue calls; there’s no conversations quite like a phone call with Bob.

The last time I saw Bob, he had plans to make a movie, to produce a young woman singer he’d discovered, to write his memoir and to work on a project far too elaborate to go into here but that was entirely in keeping with his musical ethos and would mess with the people in power and change the world. We drank a little tequila and – I had my ukulele with me – we sat outside in the back yard and sang Leonard Cohen songs.

A friend told me that, during his last days at the memory facility, Bob would be singing and dancing, telling stories and enchanting everyone around him. It wouldn’t surprise me if, wherever he is right now, that’s what he’s still doing. He was one of a kind, Bob Johnston.

Not just a gun but dancing

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

“I’ve been working on a second book of short stories, whenever I can grab some time. They’re turning out to be very different from Too Weird For Ziggy (or Too Weird For Iggy, as it was originally called, before Iggy Pop’s former manager said it was too weird for Iggy and I had to change the title!). These new stories are strange in a different way, more pensive, and very short.

“Anyway, I was asked by the musician/writer Lori Carson to contribute a story to her short story magazine Three Am Analog http://threeamanalog.comb which features musicians who write – or maybe writers who make music; I’m never sure which of the two I am! This is the story Lori chose: ‘Not Just A Gun But Dancing’.” – Sylvie

In Tribute to Serge: half-priced book sale

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

2242384_2d20618995_m“Serge Gainsbourg died in his sleep at home in Paris on March 2nd 1991 – 25 years ago today. I was living in France at that time. The whole country went went into mourning. Brigitte Bardot, who’d slept with him, gave a eulogy; President Mitterand, who hadn’t slept with him, gave one too. He was “our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire”, the President said, “He elevated the song to the level of art”. Flags were flown at half-mast – which really was a far less fitting symbol for the famed ladies man and FRench pop genius than the bottles of whisky and packs of Gitanes cigarettes left by hordes of fans as tributes by the front wall of his house.

“I’d not heard of Gainsbourg before I moved to France for a few years in 1990 – apart from his duet with Jane Birkin, that is, ‘Je T’ Aime… Moi Non Plus’. I heard that on the radio when I was a young girl living with my parents in London – until it was banned by the BBC and flew to the top of the chart.

“But I came to love his work so much that, with his longtime partner Jane Birkin’s encouragement – she said that he had always been sad that he wasn’t recognised in England, a country that he loved – I wrote this book, “Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful Of Gitanes”.

“In honour of the 25th anniversary of his passing, my book  is on sale at less than half price today in ebook/kindle etc format. There’ll be a discount all week, up until 6th March –  when I’ll be hosting and playing at a tribute to Serge in Oakland, California – but the very cheapest price is today. So if you’re interested in falling in love with Gainsbourg like I did, here’s the link. Merci beaucoup, tout le monde!” – Sylvie

Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes on Sale

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

9780306811838_p0_v1_s1200x630Today marks 25 years since the death of Serge Gainsbourg. For the occasion, we’re running a sale on the Kindle version of A Fistful of Gitanes, Sylvie Simmons’s biography of the icon, today through March 6. The discount decreases each day, so move quickly for the best deal! Buy it now here.


Friday, February 26th, 2016

Mojo blurb“Strange how something can feel depressing and uplifting both at the same time. That’s exactly  how it was when I was writing this eight-page piece on Lemmy of Motorhead in the new (March 2016) issue of MOJO. Losing Lemmy  at the end of last year was heart-breaking; I’d known him for decades – since our first interview in 1980 when Ace of  Spades came out – and over the years we became friends.  It was hard-going, poring through a stack of all our old interviews, like a box of old photographs in an empty room. One minute I’d be smiling at all the stories and the memories they brought back, and the next I’d be misting up, knowing we’d  never talk again.

“Then the deaths just kept on coming. Less than two weeks later  it was David Bowie – someone I first met in my teens and whose music was such a big part of my life that, so soon after Lemmy, I couldn’t bring myself to write about. A week after that it was  the Eagles’ Glenn Frey;  once again I was going through my filing cabinet to find our old interviews and write an obituary and tribute for MOJO. (It will be in the April issue).  Suddenly  the word ‘deadline’ had taken on a horrible new meaning. So I was very happy to go to Nashville last week to interview Graham Nash, who’s alive and well at age 74 and still making great music.

“Meanwhile, I’ve just posted one of my favourite interviews with Lemmy on the Interview page of this website. We did it ten years ago at his favourite hangout, the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Blvd. I think I’ll go pour myself a long, cold screwdriver  – Lemmy’s favourite drink’ – and raise a toast to absent friends. Take care of yourselves, everyone.”-Sylvie.

Americana part II

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Nineteen years ago, Sylvie launched a new column in MOJO magazine called ‘Americana’ – and she’s been writing that column ever since.  In 2000, she curated and wrote the liner notes for a compilation album called “The Rough Guide to Americana”, of artists, many of them unknown, whose music she’d come to know and love through her column. Sixteen years later, while she was on tour with her own album, Sylvie was asked to compile a second, updated guide to Americana, and here it is.

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americana 2

Re-United States!

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Howe SS billboard copySylvie reunited with Howe Gelb –  the legendary founder and front-man of Giant Sand who produced Sylvie – and bass player  Thoger Lund, who played alongside Howe on Sylvie’s album – for two shows in California. The first was in Big Sur at the Henry Miller Library, where Sylvie performed a Leonard Cohen show soon after the release of  her book I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen in 2012. The second show was at  San Francisco venue The Chapel – here’s a brief review of the show in Bay Bridged.

In-between shows, Sylvie played Howe ten of her new songs, which he now has on his iPhone. They’re hoping to record her second album together later this year.