I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons - review by Charles Shaar Murray

Charles Shaar Murray

Life of a Ladies’ Man

I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen


Jonathan Cape 548pp £9.99 pbk order from our bookshop

In early 1968, three primary enthusiasms emerged from the dizzyingly eclectic musical mash-up spun by John Peel on his Sunday afternoon Radio 1 show. One was the clattery, rattly Jive Tolkien of that elvish Presley, Marc Bolan, in what was then still called Tyrannosaurus Rex; the second was the Dadaist mutation of delta blues and free jazz created by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band; and the third was the debut album of an obscure and comparatively elderly Canadian singer-songwriter named Leonard Cohen.

Biographies of pop musicians of a certain age tend to launch their narratives from childhoods spent either dirt-poor in America’s Deep South or Midwest or lower-middle class in wartime Britain. Cohen was a scion of Montreal’s prosperous Jewish bourgeoisie, exposed to radical folk music via left-Zionist summer camp and inquisitive

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

East of the Wardrobe

Follow Literary Review on Twitter