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Loving Leonard Cohen by Judyta Frodyma

In books, music, poetry on July 7, 2013 at 18:00

From: Loving Leonard Cohen by Judyta Frodyma, The Oxonian Review, http://www.oxonianreview.org

Even at the start of his career, writes Sylvie Simmons in her new biography, “Leonard had never really toured but he knew he did not like touring”. For a man on and off the road since the sixties, this is an unexpected characteristic. He had a problem with stage fright, but “mostly he was afraid for his songs. They had come to him in private, from somewhere pure and honest, and he had worked long and hard to make them sincere representations of the moment. He wanted to protect them, not parade and pimp them to paying strangers in an artificial intimacy.” Later in the biography, Simmons returns to his complicated relationship with touring, which he viewed “at best as a necessary evil, foisted upon him by his record contract […] his insecurities as a singer and a musician made his fear of failure more acute.”

And indeed, the ‘Leonard’ that Simmons depicts is supportive but also humble, self-deprecating, extraordinarily generous with his time and money and, unsurprisingly, mysteriously seductive. Yet the work is not shrouded in a veil of mystery, nor judgement for that matter. From his bohemian, non-committal sex-life to details of his finances and the complexity of his relationship with G-d (as he reverently writes in ‘Poems of Longing’) and himself, we feel we are being presented with an accurate and honest portrait of Leonard as he is. And like the countless men and women in his life, we find ourselves ready to fall at his feet. Simmons does leave some things to the reader’s speculation and certain things are mentioned in passing, but there is never a sense of distance from her subject.

Read the review

Reposted with permission from: The Oxonian Review

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