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, 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