“Leonard Cohen’s songs mix the sleazy and the sacred in ways that break down both categories” New York Review of Books

Leonard Cohen’s songs mix the sleazy and the sacred in ways that break down both categories. This music, delivered in Cohen’s nasal non-voice, often played on cheap synthesizers, shoddily produced, sometimes badly recorded and unreliably distributed, nevertheless finds unlikely access to words like “holy,” “saint,” and “prayer” as though to transcend its origins in the gut and the loins. Cohen has attracted many disciples and inspired many conversions. He is one of the most beloved figures in modern pop, but everyone who listens to Cohen feels he has bailed him out of impending obscurity.

These lines comprise the opening paragraph of “The ‘Stoned Gallantry’ of Leonard Cohen,” Dan Chiasson’s review of Sylvie Simmons’ I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen published in The New York Review of Books: February 21, 2013.

That clever first line and the discussion of Leonard Cohen’s unique role as a true poet who also writes songs with poetic sensibilities (see excerpt below) are must-reads for those with an interest in Leonard Cohen or songwriting.

But of all the lyricists people call “poets,” Cohen comes closest to surviving that hard passage into print. “Suzanne” is not a poem: too much depends upon the glorious, tentative melody backed by a choir of voices and strings. But you can see, even on the page, that Cohen’s sense of song includes the kind of inscrutable swerves of mind that great poets make. Somehow Constant Comment tea served to him by his friend’s gorgeous wife becomes “tea and oranges/that come all the way from China.” Cohen might have been thinking of Stevens’s “Sunday Morning” and its “late coffee and oranges/in a sunny chair”; in both cases, a secular Eucharist conjures the presence of Christ.

The other portions of the review, however, have less to do with Leonard Cohen or Sylvie Simmons’ biography of Cohen than with the author’s self-serving dismissal of the talents of the Canadian singer-songwriter, his biographer, and – well, that portion of humanity not on the editorial board of the New York Review of Books.

The article can be accessed in its entirety at Zone of Totality.

Note: Originally posted February 4, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Brazilian Edition of Sylvie Simmons’ Leonard Cohen Bio Earns Praise From Folha de São Paulo

braznewsBia Pereira points to

another good review [of the Brazilian Portuguese-language version of I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons] in Folha de São Paulo, a very important newspaper in Brazil. The title is something like this: “Biographer scrutinizes Cohen with extensive research” and the subtitle: “So professional and distant English journalist Sylvie Simmons makes her book a sort of catalog”. And the evaluation is “very good”.

The article is available at Biógrafa esmiúça Leonard Cohen em livro que é quase um catálogo

Conspiracy of Beards Sing Leonard Cohen + Singer/Songwriter & Cohen Biographer Sylvie Simmons – The Mint L.A.

Conspiracy of Beards | A Choir of Men Sing Leonard Cohen Return to Los Angeles with Special Guest Singer/Songwriter & Cohen Biographer Sylvie Simmons April 17, 2016

Conspiracy of Beards, a San Francisco based choir of 30 men that sing exclusively the poetic songs of Leonard Cohen in 4- and 5-part a cappella harmony, will finally return to Los Angeles after a long 5 year hiatus. Now in their 13th season, the choir brings an energized live choral music experience out of churches and tabernacles and into the taverns, art houses, and theaters. Directed by Bay Area composer, Daryl Henline, this group of dapper men conspire to capture all of the emotion and humor of Leonard Cohen’s original music with their dynamic, original arrangements and expressive stage presence. They are stewards of Cohen’s words. Conspiracy of Beards will be joined for part of the tour by singer/songwriter, and Leonard Cohen biographer, Sylvie Simmons.

Sunday, April 17
Event: Conspiracy of Beards / Sylvie Simmons / Cadence / Juana Fernández

Location: The Mint – 6010 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035 (Btwn S Crescent Heights Blvd & Stearns Dr.) (323) 954-9400

Time/Bill: Doors 6:45pm
Conspiracy of Beards 10:00pm
Sylvie Simmons 9:30pm
Cadence 8:00pm
Juana Fernández 7:15pm

Description: Conspiracy of Beards last sang at The Mint in 2011. They return with a refined performance and Sylvie Simmons, renowned music journalist, Leonard Cohen biographer, and ukulele singer/songwriter opening the evening.

Tickets: $10 – http://themintla.com/event.cfm?id=233571&cart

Contact:Clay Eugene Smith
[email protected]
510.213.2226

Conspiracy of Beards Links:
Website

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Sylvie Simmons’ Leonard Cohen Biography Audio Book Wins Audiofile Golden Earphones Award

audiobook3

DrHGuy’s proposed cover for audio book version of I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons

Note: This is old news that was originally posted Mar 22, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric, but the continued success of Sylvie Simmons’ biography of Leonard Cohen certainly merits its reposting here. And anyway, I like the cover art.

I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen was released as an audio book by Ecco/Harper Collins (publishers of the print version of the book). I’ve adapted the cover art to something more fitting for the audio version (see above).

Prior to the recording, Sylvie Simmons, author of the popular Cohen biography, described the narrator selected for the project:

Josh Pollock, an actor and very fine musician of the rock / experimental variety, who is currently playing in the new stage production of Woyzeck in Berkeley. He’s done various ads in the past – this will be his first book. I’m sure he’ll do a great job, not just because of the tone of his voice, which has a sense of warmth and irony, but because of his knowledge of music and musicians, as well as literature, and a real interest in the subject.

The Sylvie Simmons web site heralds another award for I’m Your Man, The Life of Leonard Cohen, in honor of which I’ve modified my original graphic (see above) created to announce the audiobook’s publication:

The audiobook of I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen – all 18 hours 33 minutes of it – is the proud winner of the Audiofile Golden Earphones Award!

The hardworking narrator was Josh Pollock, a friend of Sylvie’s, who is an actor and acclaimed musician from San Francisco.

And here’s a link to an an excerpt of Josh reading from the book.  ow.ly/uyBUZ

gold-ear

Conspiracy of Beards, Sylvie Simmons LA Appearances Added To Leonard Cohen Events Calendar

cob-ssFrom the Cohencentric Leonard Cohen Events Calendar

 

Hear Sylvie Simmons Talk To Libby Znaimer About Leonard Cohen’s Singing Voice & His Women

The interview with Sylvie Simmons, author of I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, begins at 3:55 in the podcast and ends at 12:15.  It can be heard or downloaded at Zoomer Week In Review Podcast – December 2nd, 2012

Note: Originally posted December 15, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric