Sneak Preview From “Leonard Cohen Master Of Song” By Sylvie Simmons – MOJO #279

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“The Life Of Leonard Cohen Was A Series Of Radical Departures”

Graciously acceding to my request, Sylvie Simmons provides an excerpt from her forthcoming 5000 word essay on Leonard Cohen that will appear in The next issue of MOJO (#279), which should be in the hands of subscribers and on newsstands the end of Dec 2016 or early Jan 2017.

“I was always going off the deep end”, said Cohen, smiling. “So it was no radical departure.” True, when you think about it, the life of Leonard Cohen was a series of radical departures.

Cohen was 33 when his debut album came out. Another radical departure, this being when you weren’t to trust anyone over thirty. Like his poems, his lyrics were sophisticated and dense. Although he had consumed copious amounts of acid and speed, his songs showed no evidence of either. His songs were like nothing else being made in the late 60s, he was unique, at the same time ancient and fresh. John Hammond had a hard time getting Columbia to sign an “old poet”. 

From the outset, Cohen’s relationship with the music business had ranged from dismal to conflicted.

MOJO 279 (Feb 2017) Offers “Leonard Cohen Master Of Song” By Sylvie Simmons

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Sylvie Simmons (and Bono) hymn the greatness of Leonard Cohen

From  MOJO Blog: December 15, 2016

Note: MOJO does not routinely publish articles of this sort online so those who wish to see this piece need to track down a print copy (or a friend who has a subscription)

Photo Of Sylvie Simmons, Author Of I’M Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen, May Be Clue To Worldwide Post-It Shortage

9166857843_0b9f28824c_oSylvie Simmons, author of I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, at June 13, 2013 Rough Trade reading. Photo by Lynette van Duyn

Update: The following announcement of one of Sylvie’s presentations, the original reason for this post, is outdated, but I love the evocative photo atop this post.

Ms Simmons appears today (June 30, 2013) at

Leigh-on-Sea – Lunch with Leonard in a church in Southend

Reading, signing and a song or two at New Road Methodist Church -part of the Leigh on Sea festival

New Rd Leigh-on-Sea, Essex 1.30-2pm

Note: Originally posted June 30, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Listen To Sylvie Simmons On Montreal, Making Music, And The Life Of Leonard Cohen

Sylvie Simmons interviews Leonard Cohen

Ep. 18: I’m Your Man: Sylvie Simmons on Montreal, Making Music, and the Life of Leonard Cohen by Zachary Stockill is an interview in which Sylvie Simmons and Stockill “discuss her personal encounters with Cohen, what his music has meant to her and so many others, Cohen’s reputation as a ladies man, salacious Canadian journalism, and much more.” Not unlike Cohen himself, Sylvie gives good interview.

The podcast can be played or downloaded at Travels In Music.

Recovered Sylvie Simmons Facebook Music Interview A Must-Read

diff.2jpgBroadcast Disappears Into “Great Black Hole Of Cyberspace” – Transcript Recovered

On Feb 24, 2013, Sylvie Simmons, author of I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen, was the guest on “The Facebook Music Interviews” at Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications music chat page. That site promised

We’ll be text-chatting live & interactive right here on Facebook discussing the current state of music journalism and all thing Lenny! You can participate as well and post your own questions for Sylvie.

In my announcement of that event, I encouraged readers to

Think Of It As Online Truth Or Dare: Come on. You must have an embarrassing question about Leonard Cohen  or Sylvie’s fantasies about Leonard Cohen. This is your chance to ask anything – no matter how outrageous. Actually, Sylvie is pretty entertaining when she responds to any query, even straightforward ones.  So, ask, listen, enjoy.

Alas, technical difficulties ensued. As Sylvie Simmons noted in a comment to the above referenced DrHGuy post

Oh well I did answer questions, by Facebook, for two hours-plus, then interviewer somehow managed to push a wrong button and consigned the answers to the great black hole of cyberspace. Which will teach me to be unfaithful to Dr Heck and refuse all internet interview requests but his.

The wisdom of Ms Simmons’ devotion to DrHGuy notwithstanding, the good news is that the prodigal interview has found its way home to its audience, albeit in the form of a transcript posting rather than an audio broadcast.

And it turns out to be an especially worthwhile read. A few representative excerpts follow:

[Interviewer] And his [Leonard Cohen’s] reaction to the book?
[Sylvie Simmons] The one thing he said on the subject, during our last interviews for the book, was that he didn’t want a whitewash. A very decent man, that Leonard Cohen.

The music business and the publishing business are f***ed.

My last book before this, halfway between Serge Gainsbourg and Leonard Cohen, was fiction, a series of interlinked short stories, ‘Too Weird for Ziggy’ (which, incidentally, was originally titled ‘Too Weird for Iggy’ until Iggy Pop objected, so his then-manager said, on the grounds that it was too weird for him.

[Interviewer] As the book more than confirms, Leonard is a seductive figure on many levels. Was it difficult to maintain journalistic objective and distance? To not succumb to his charms and ‘fall in love’, metaphorically speaking, with your subject while writing the book?
[Sylvie Simmons] Okay, let’s start with ‘literally’: the Petraeus question. Fortunately, having been a music writer for 35 years and having spent not just days but nights, on tour buses, with rock stars, I quickly learned to resist temptation. ‘Metaphorically’? Well, I was already ‘in love’, if you like, with the artist, and the man is very difficult to dislike. But when you examine a life in as much depth, and for such a long time as I did on this biography, in a way you start identifying with them, more than actually loving them. The distance seems to disappear. And you can’t fall in love with yourself (well I suppose you can, but hey, it’s not a lot of fun!)

The complete transcript can be accessed at Facebook Music Interview #50 – Sylvie Simmons, Author Of ‘I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen’ (Feb. 24, 2013)

Note: Originally posted March 11, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric