Much as he was blessed with talent and a supportive family and everything, he was cursed with this perfectionism, depression, and this inability to settle for anyone or anything.
News World U. Sylvie Simmons worked closely with Leonard Cohen and that certainly shows through in this biography. Trusted too much. He has everything, he has nothing. On the older deeper voice : His delivery was laconic, almost recitative, like an old French chansonnier who has mistakenly stumbled into disco. On the other hand, biographies of people famous for sustained activity that falls within the normal range of human behavior -- like recording songs or writing novels -- have tended to be pretty tedious and unrewarding. More importantly he exudes today an incomparable style and grace.
And a lot artists and serious writers do seem to suffer with that. In every way. His appearance for example: offstage, around the house, he wears a suit and fedora. If you look on the hallstand there are more fedoras and a couple of flat-caps. His house is very simple, very sparsely furnished, not much different from the hut he lived in as a monk.
There are no paintings on the walls, very few things you would call an ornament, and a few old pieces of furniture. To talk to him is a combination of sitting with Moses and a stand-up comic—Moses as a stand-up comic! His humor is quite cheeky and very, very dry. When you speak to him, his entire attention is on you. The most unexpected thing, I think, would be his propensity for wanting to cook for his visitors. Some wonderful scrambled eggs. He made a salad at one point. Oh, he was trying to make me some sandwiches to take on the plane ride, and it was only an hour plane ride.
I assured him that I was not going to die. He has a really big thing about them.
Really there would be no end to it. He actually made a really wonderful ginger smoothie!
I asked him for the recipe. But he does them. And he takes his hat off, holds it over his heart, and bows to his musicians and to his the audience. That sense of service again. And he said that Springsteen took him out to a pizza place. I think the only time we were outside was for a previous interview, when he was staying in hotels and I was living back in London and he was in London on a promotional tour.
I do know that he prefers simple places, hole-in-the-wall restaurants with Formica topped tables where only a handful of people can get in at a time. And he tends to order the same food over and over.
I get the sense that he reads to study, rather than for pleasure. But he has never stopped his religious studies. One thing that drew him to Buddhism, besides his close friendship Roshi, was the discipline. None of them helped. But studying how to quieten the brain and the ego — and to do it in the kind of hardcore regime of a Rinzai Zen mountain monastery of the Mount Baldy monastery — seemed to give Leonard something he was looking for.
Stereo Embers: Is it really? You describe it as a terrifying place in the book. It does kind of break down your ego. Stereo Embers: So has he carried that experience with him? You kind of referred to that in how he decorates his house so sparsely. His father died when he was nine and his mother wanted him to stay home. So it seems he was attracted to this disciplined, cell-like way of living, so the monastery had a familiar appeal.
It probably confirmed something he was looking for and felt comfortably deep inside anyway. He likes simplicity. Dylan, for example, changed his name from Zimmerman and reinvented himself as a kind of Woody Guthrie singing hobo—a whole kind of fantasy world there —but Leonard Cohen stayed Leonard Cohen. He knew the kind of education he got from being from that life gave him certain advantages. In some ways stayed within that very kind of traditional kind of life; even the poetry he wrote and was acclaimed for, before he became a singer-songwriter, was more traditional, lyric poetry—although he was a contemporary of the experimental Beat poets, he did not write Beat poetry—although his second novel Beautiful Losers was pretty -out there.
His rebellion was insisting on being who he was. And what he was was a writer. He never really fit in. As I mentioned in the book, it was due to multiple reasons, from early childhood on. He was from a Jewish family in a Protestant neighborhood in a French province of Canada.
Maybe that was one reason why the British identified with him. The continental Europeans also have that dark sensibility and are also a bit more intellectualized. The French were probably drawn to the existential gloom of his lyrics and the way he delivered a song. Also the humour that was always in his songs was much more open, much less hidden and black.
This album—and the follow-up , The Future— was much more radio friendly. You talked about the technology of the computer. He got into synthesizers right around that time. Was that a knowing attempt to get into the mainstream, to play the synthesizer? Because, in his words, he was not a great musician, a trained musician. But those rhythm tracks fueled him somehow and inspired him to come up with new kinds of songs.
He only played a few guitar songs on the guitar on the to tour. And a big band was more suited to Leonard, who was extremely nervous about going back on tour after 15 years. He was always very conflicted about touring. One—the big one—is finally being cured of depression.
He loves the regimen, he loves knowing what he exactly has to do, and of course he loves presenting his work to the public and receiving such fantastic reception wherever he goes. You see him backstage and he looks younger than ever. For example would you write 55 drafts of something and then settle on five verses? Stereo Embers: Maybe the work has a linear progression sonically— maybe —but thematically it has this spiral.
SS: Exactly. There are some changes there, but it all comes back to the same thing. I approached Leonard Cohen via his manager—the usual protocol—and said that I felt Cohen had been underserved by biographers, which I believe is true. I think he is a very important artist and writer and a fascinating man.
Leonard knows how much I appreciate his work and him. I was advised to narrow it down to one question. Leonard answered some of them though, in various interviews.
I'm Your Man book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Leonard Cohen, one of the most important and influential artists of o. I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen [Sylvie Simmons] on abdielantusa.tk * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The New York Times-bestselling, definitive.
And since I promised on Facebook that I would find a few more things that Leonard said about Roshi, here they are.