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

By

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

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