Janet Maslin, NY Times: “Ms. Simmons’s ‘I’m Your Man’ is the major, soul-searching biography that Leonard Cohen deserves.”

Reviews Of  “I’m Your Man -The Life Of Leonard Cohen” by Sylvie Simmons

Yep, Janet Maslin has fallen in line with my own assessment of “I’m Your Man,” the Leonard Cohen biography written by distinguished music journalist, noted ukuleleist, revered rock chick, and erstwhile girls’ teenzine writer1 Sylvie Simmons.  Of course, so has every other reviewer.  Check it out yourself:

  • Another Cohen bio? Hallelujah! – Marshall Duke: Paste Magazine
    Clearly, we have here more than a simple biography. Simmons’ carefully researched work feels definitive. It can be trusted. Even better, Simmons is a wonderful writer. She describes events with engaging clarity and a command of language that oftentimes enthralls.
  • I’m Your Man – Kirkus Reviews
    An elegant, deeply researched life of the Canadian musician, poet and novelist.

The US edition of “I’m Your Man” by Sylvie Simmons is available Sept 18, 2012. The Canadian publication date is Oct 23, 2012. In the UK, the release date is Nov 1, 2012, and in The Netherlands, October 16, 2012.

Originally posted Sept 17, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. Ms Simmons was renowned in her occupational sphere for  asking  deep, soul-penetrating questions of, among other, David Cassidy (while sitting in Mr Cassidy’s lap),  the Jackson 5, the Bay City Rollers, and David Bowie. See Leonard Cohen In Seventeen Magazine – 1968 []

Sylvie Simmons To Headline Oct 29-30, 2018 Galway Leonard Cohen Event + Dublin & London Shows & French Tour

Sylvie Simmons writes that she will travel to Europe for two shows: Betsey Trotwood pub in London on Oct 25 and Dublin on Oct 28.

The Galway Leonard Cohen Event

After the Dublin show, Sylvie is off to Galway for a three-part Cohen extravaganza arranged by Jill Harsant and Jerome Taheny, on Oct 29th and 30th, which she describes as

  1. A show at a well-loved Galway book store, Charlie Byrnes, where I’ll no doubt drink a lot of Guinness and tell untold stories
  2. A concert at a theater, Monroe’s with two Irish singer-songwriters and Cohen fans
  3. A dinner and drink-up

Finally, she’ll be heading to France in November for a two-week tour in support of the French edition of her Leonard Cohen biography, I’m Your Man.

March 2012 MOJO: Great Leonard Cohen Interview By Sylvie Simmons + Some Pretty Darn Good Art Via DrHGuy


A couple of days ago, when I received a copy of the March 2012 edition of MOJO in return for some assistance I was able to render for that issue’s Leonard Cohen feature, (see Exclusive 1st Look – Leonard Cohen MOJO Cover) the first item to which I turned was – well, the very first item I checked was whether I was mentioned in the credits (more, inevitably, about that later) – but the very next page I sought and located was the beginning of  Sylvie Simmons’ interview with Leonard Cohen. The article is not available online so I have excerpted the opening paragraph below. (Click on excerpt to enlarge)

The ensuing eight pages of text1 cover a multitude of points such as Leonard Cohen’s current day to day life, the 2008-2010 World Tour, songs that made it on the recently released Old Ideas album, songs  that didn’t,  and songs that are planned for next new album, Cohen’s grandchildren, Cassius and Viva, his recording studio that is atop what once was his garage, Roshi, the music Cohen heard his parents sing during his childhood, the issues involved with growing old, and much more, including fudgesicles and the identity of the secret ingredient in Cohen’s homemade salad dressing.2

Anyone with even a passing interest in Leonard Cohen or, for that matter, in pop music journalism will be enriched by reading “Bringing It All Back Home” by Sylvie Simmons, whose biography of the Canadian singer-songwriter is due to be published this fall.

The Art

And the art in the Leonard Cohen ain’t bad.  The following is part of a page from the interview (click on image to enlarge) containing six images, each of which was suggested by me and each of which first appeared on the Heck Of A Guy or the DrHGuy sites. One of them, “End Of The Word Tour” graphic, is an original DrHGuy construction.3

And  those chaps at MOJO were as good as their word, crediting my efforts, albeit in an appropriately inconspicuous manner. The print encased in red below is shown enlarged in the following image.

Originally posted Feb 18, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. It’s actually “eight pages more or less”, depending upon one’s criteria for a page of text []
  2. Still, there are inexplicable lacunae in this Cohen salmagundi Ms Simmons presents to us. Somehow, for example, a report of the long discussion I am certain they had about me is absent. []
  3. Yes, I am pretty pleased with my own contribution – you gotta problem with that? []

A Cohencentric Appreciation Of Sylvie Simmons: Music Journalist, Rock Chick, & Leonard Cohen Biographer

The most joyous part of the Cohencentric Farewell Tour (well, at least from my perspective) is the opportunity to acknowledge those folks who contributed to this site’s success.

Sylvie Simmons

In 2009, I received a message from Sylvie Simmons, who had then convinced various publishers that she would complete a biography of Leonard Cohen in the foreseeable future, complimenting my blog and asking my assistance in her preparation of this biography. And, I knew what that meant. Yep, that’s right – it meant

Sylvie Simmons was contacting every living Leonard Cohen fan
to solicit help writing her Leonard Cohen biography

Since then, Sylvie not only published that biography (see Sept 18, 2012: “I’m Your Man” By Sylvie Simmons Becomes The Definitive Leonard Cohen Biography), complete with a fulsome acknowledgement of and a couple of footnotes attributed to yours truly but also became a significant feature on Cohencentric. This post, in fact, will be the 142nd Cohencentric entry in which Sylvie Simmons plays a role.

From that first email, Sylvie treated me respectfully. She credited my efforts – unlike many, many other media, museum, and music professionals who used my sites as an unrecognized information source and me as an unpaid intern to do their research.

Sylvie modeled integrity, ethical journalism and personal honesty; Sylvie always followed through on her promises – even promises she should never have made. She was hard working, skillful, and pretty darn funny.

Best of all, Sylvie’s graciousness rivaled that of Leonard’s. She has been what can only be described as bizarrely openhanded in contributing to Cohencentric.

Now, some of those contributions fell into the realm of nice but not onerous things to do. She sent me, for example, articles about Leonard Cohen I was otherwise unable to access and this photo of the Caesars Palace marquee promoting Leonard’s 2010 Las Vegas show for my Signs Of Leonard Cohen collection.

She was also, however, incredibly generous with her time, efforts, and storehouse of contacts and information. She put me in touch with and provided character references to photographers, journalists, and musicians I couldn’t  otherwise reach. She quickly responded to a bevy of questions I asked.1

Sylvie also submitted to the first Cohencentric Q&A: Sylvie Simmons On Her Leonard Cohen Biography, The Uke, & All Sorts Of Good Stuff. This interview, a dandy read on its own, was, in addition, the leverage for the many subsequent Q&A’s published on this site (“Dear ________, I am writing to request a Q&A with you. Cohencentric has previously published Q&A’s with other notables, such as Leonard Cohen biographer, Sylvie Simmons.”)

Best of all – and, a little unbelievably in retrospect – Sylvie was game for just about anything Cohenesque.

When I wrote her about Leonard Cohen’s 1968 appearance in Seventeen Magazine, she pitched in, as per this excerpt:

Acutely aware of my lamentable scholarly deficiencies in the area of periodicals targeted to adolescent females, I consulted with distinguished music journalist, revered rock chick, and  Leonard Cohen biographer, Sylvie Simmons, whose pertinent credentials in this case include once being a teenage girl and, albeit briefly, a girls’ teenzine writer renowned for  asking  deep, soul-penetrating questions of, among other, David Cassidy (while sitting in Mr Cassidy’s lap),  the Jackson 5, the Bay City Rollers, and David Bowie. Her critique follows:

As a former (very briefly) writer for a teen magazine, I can state without any fear of contradiction that this is the worst teen mag piece I’ve ever read.

‘State of grace’. Puh-lease! Where are the hobbies, most embarrassing moment, collar-and-inside-leg-size and taste in girls questions. Though the pic makes him look like the kind of old man any self-respecting 17 year old girl in the sixties would have been warned not to talk to.

And, she agreed to write the liner notes for Another Other Songs Of Leonard Cohen Album, Cohencentric’s freebie bootleg album, gratis (keep in mind that Sylvie earns her living selling what she writes). As I noted at the time,

Because of that pesky pending litigation, DrHGuy cannot comment upon rumors that blackmail, threats, or kidnapping were involved in garnering the participation of Sylvie Simmons in the Another Other Songs Of Leonard Cohen Album project. Besides, now the notes are done so nobody got hurt – and isn’t that the important thing? Actually, DrHGuy, lacking the sufficient resources to have emulated Don Vito Corleone in making “an offer [s]he can’t refuse,” opted to make Sylvie an offer she couldn’t refute, i.e., participation in this project would result in no imaginable benefits to her.

The first lines of Sylvie’s notes follow:

There was something on the radio about Michel de Montaigne, the French Renaissance essayist. From the day he was born, he heard nothing but Latin – an experiment conducted by his dad. Montaigne grew up as fluent in Latin as his schoolfriends were in French. He also suffered depression. The famous Essays he wrote were a form of self-therapy, it said. Which wouldn’t have made him popular with Dr Heck, the shrink, Leonard Cohenite and philanthropist who, along with messalina79, compiled this free album and then signed me up to write free liner notes. Leonard, famously, spent his life avoiding psychiatrists; Leonard, as we all know, was uncommonly smart.

Even that, however, pales in comparison to Sylvie’s performance of “Ballad Of Len,” a tune featuring lyrics by DrHGuy and set to music not unlike that of the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies, at the 2012 Madison Leonard Cohen Event.

From the original post:

The latest in the long line of musical tributes to Leonard Cohen, a group that includes songs by such luminaries as Peter Gabriel, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Sting, Pixies, Nick Cave, R.E.M., and many, many others, is now online. “The Ballad Of Len,” featuring lyrics by DrHGuy and set to music not unlike that of the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies, was performed August 4, 2012 by Sylvie Simmons, the renowned music journalist whose Leonard Cohen biography, “I’m Your Man,” is due to hit the bookstores, both virtual and brick and mortar, this fall, and Heidi Clare, widely acknowledged as the best, most powerful old-time fiddler performing today, at the Madison Leonard Cohen Event held in Madison, Wisconsin. No, I have no idea what Ms Simmons and Ms Clare were thinking – or smoking – when they agreed to this. But, if you’ve always craved hearing a parody of “The Ballad Of Jed Clampett” commemorating the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour sung in a British accent accompanied by ukelele and exquisite fiddling well, friend, this is your big chance.

Sylvie Simmons & Heidi Clare – The Ballad Of Len
Video by Maarten Massa

There’s more, but you get the idea – Sylvie Simmons is a star.

A Cohencentric Sampler Of Sylvie Simmons Posts

Credit Due Department: The photo of Sylvie Simmons atop this post was taken at Golden Gate Park in Summer 2009 by Henry Wimmer’s iPhone and may or may not be included in the forthcoming “The Many Moods of Sylvie – Portraits Of A Diva.”


  1. OK, I may have used her as an unpaid, albeit not unacknowledged, intern at times. []

“[I’m Your Man By Sylvie Simmons is] the best book I’ve read about Leonard Cohen. It’s one of the best music books I’ve ever read; one of the best biographies I’ve read. It’s one of my favourite books.”

And her book is worth celebrating. It’s the best book I’ve read about Leonard Cohen. It’s one of the best music books I’ve ever read; one of the best biographies I’ve read. It’s one of my favourite books. She writes like a dream, the research is there – she’s managed to get people to go on the record who have not, previously, spoken about Cohen. And there’s a weight, a gravitas to Leonard’s life and work. Simmons addresses this with full respect, allows it to shine.

Dr Heck Note: I think he likes it.

From Interviewing Sylvie Simmons by Simon Sweetman. Stuff.ca.nz: May 20, 2013. Originally posted June 4, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Final Cover Of La Vie De Leonard Cohen By Sylvie Simmons – To Be Published In European French May 17, 2018

Dominique BOILE, upon receiving a preview of the French edition of Sylvie Simmons’ book, writes to point out that “the cover, definitive, is different from the one previously sent.”

“I’m Your Man,” the biography by Sylvie Simmons will finally be available in France in a European French translation (it was previously available in Canada in a Canadian French translation) by my friends, Elisabeth Domergue and Françoise Vella. According to Éditions L’échappée, this edition will be available on May 17, 2018.

Sylvie Simmons, Rock Journalism, Leonard Cohen, & More

I was living in Leonard Cohen’s mind for a good long time. I told him, he wore me out, living in his head. He gave his little smile and said, ‘I know darling.’quotedown2

Sylvie Simmons


Sylvie Simmons talks music, journalism and the exhaustion of exploring Leonard Cohen’s mind by Joshua Peacock (DoSavannah: Mar 29, 2018) offers interesting, entertaining information about Sylvie’s work with Leonard Cohen and other artists and a taste of her own musical talents.