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, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Anita Lipnicka Talks About I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons & Importance Of Leonard Cohen In Her Own Life, Covers “If It Be Your Will” With John Porter

Anita Lipnicka with I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons on Polish TV

Anita Lipnicka with I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons on Polish TV

The Musical Inspirations Of Anita Lipnicka

Beata M. Wołoszyn writes about a recent broadcast of Świat się kręci TVP on Polish TV:

Anita Lipnicka, a famous Polish singer and songwriter, presents the book “I`m Your Man” by Sylvie Simmons and sings “If It Be Your Will,” accompanied by John Porter. She also talks about how very important Leonard Cohen is in her life and what a great inspiration he has been for her.


The Video

Note: The spoken portion of the broadcast is in Polish; the song, “If It Be Your Will,” is in English. Ms Lipnicka begins talking about Sylvie Simmons’ biography of Leonard Cohen at 1:06. The song begins at 4:22 and ends at 6:00.


If this video cannot be viewed here, it can be seen at the Muzyczne Inspiracje Facebook page: The Musical Inspirations Of Anita Lipnicka

Note: Originally posted March 26, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“Leonard Cohen’s songs mix the sleazy and the sacred in ways that break down both categories” NY 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.

Continue Reading →

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 –

Contact:Clay Eugene Smith
[email protected]

Conspiracy of Beards Links:


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


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, 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.