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Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters

Overview

Leonard Cohen, one of the most admired performers of the last half century, has had a stranger-than-fiction, roller-coaster ride of a life. Now, for the first time, he tells his story in his own words, via more than 50 interviews conducted worldwide between 1966 and 2012. In Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen—which includes a foreword by singer Suzanne Vega and eight pages of rarely seen photos—the artist talks about “Bird on the Wire,” “Hallelujah,” and his other classic songs. He candidly discusses his famous ...

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Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters

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Overview

Leonard Cohen, one of the most admired performers of the last half century, has had a stranger-than-fiction, roller-coaster ride of a life. Now, for the first time, he tells his story in his own words, via more than 50 interviews conducted worldwide between 1966 and 2012. In Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen—which includes a foreword by singer Suzanne Vega and eight pages of rarely seen photos—the artist talks about “Bird on the Wire,” “Hallelujah,” and his other classic songs. He candidly discusses his famous romances, his years in a Zen monastery, his ill-fated collaboration with producer Phil Spector, his long battle with depression, and much more. You'll find interviews that first appeared in the New York Times and Rolling Stone, but also conversations that have not previously been printed in English. Some of the material here has not been available until now in any format, including the many illuminating reminiscences that contributors supplied specifically for this definitive anthology.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/13/2014
The past two years have been good to the enigmatic and sometimes mysterious Cohen. He released Old Ideas, his first studio album in eight years, to wide acclaim, and Sylvie Simmons published a highly praised biography of Cohen, I’m Your Man. Now we get to hear the man himself in these interviews that music writer Burger gathers from various music magazines and newspapers—some hard to find and others not previously published in English—from 1966 to the present. On his musical predecessors: “I am very much aware of where I stood in a long line of singers or poets… and to be one of the figures that allows the tradition to continue is very gratifying.” In an early interview, Cohen comments that he doesn’t “go around looking for joy. I don’t go around looking for melancholy either… I’m not on an archaeological expedition.” In the most recent interview, from 2012, Cohen reflects on the nature of song: “Song operates on so many levels… it addresses the heart in its ordeals and its defeats but it is also useful in getting the dishes done or cleaning the house.” Every collection like this has its uneven and repetitious moments, but Burger’s discerning editorial hand selects those conversations with Cohen that offer insights into his music. For longtime and fans as well as newcomers to Cohen’s work. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"A treasure trove for Leonard Cohen fans—the dazzling, wide-ranging collection of interviews that Jeff Burger has unearthed not only offers the songwriter's story in his own words, but reveals that Cohen's language in conversation can be every bit as magnificent as his lyrics." —Alan Light, author, The Holy or The Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”
"Burger’s book is at once fascinating and frustrating." —Pop Matters

"...Burger’s discerning editorial hand selects those conversations with Cohen that offer insights into his music. For longtime fans as well as newcomers to Cohen’s work." —Publishers Weekly

"This book will appeal to Cohen aficionados and researchers. Readers will gain a wealth of information about his take on life..." —Library Journal

"This is a must for Cohen fans." —Starred review, Booklist

“It would be silly for you not to own a copy." —The Awl

"This is a collection of more than fifty interviews Cohen conducted between 1966 and 2012. And if you think LC is even a fraction as important to one’s sanity as I do, you’ll be interested to see what’s in it." —TheNation.com 

"Burger has assembled an excellent mosaic image of LC ... and the results are both very thorough and very satisfying." —GroundControl Magazine

"The result is a fascinating and discursive oral autobiography." —Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

"These interviews are a far greater form of “biography” than any of the recent books published." —The Leonard Cohen Files

“That Cohen is brilliant is no revelation, but to witness that brilliance so lovingly expressed over the years is pure joy. That such a mind exists is hard to fathom, yet here’s the proof. He’s as funny as a great humorist, as wise as a scholar, and speaks in parables and poems almost as perfect as his songs. This is a great and rare window into the dedication it takes to be a true artist in modern times. Engrossing, entertaining, and endlessly inspirational.” —Paul Zollo, author of Songwriters on Songwriting

Library Journal
02/15/2014
Burger (editor, Business Jet Traveler; Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters) presents a close-up and personal portrait of novelist, poet, singer/songwriter, cult figure, and sometime philosopher Leonard Cohen (b. 1934) through more than 50 collected interviews conducted between 1966 and 2012. Montreal-born Cohen's literary style was heavily influenced by the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, the Beats, Pete Seeger, the Almanac Singers, and the synagogue prayers of his childhood. His 1966 encounter with folk singer Judy Collins and her subsequent recording of his song "Suzanne" led to the start of his recording career. Cohen's later work, "Hallelujah," has become a modern-day hymn, covered by the likes of Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, and others. VERDICT This book will appeal to Cohen aficionados and researchers. Readers will gain a wealth of information about his take on life while enduring the repetition of facts that occurs with multiple interviews. Those interested in further exploration would enjoy Sylvie Simmons's 2012 biography, I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, which covers the artist's early years and Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs, a notable compilation of his best works.—Elizabeth D. Eisen, Appleton P.L., WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781613747582
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Series: Musicians in Their Own Words Series
  • Pages: 604
  • Sales rank: 142,617
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Burger is the editor of Springsteen on Springsteen. He has contributed to Barron’s, Family Circle, GQ, the Los Angeles Times, Reader’s Digest, and more than 75 other magazines, newspapers, and books, including many national and international music periodicals. He has published interviews with such leading musicians as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Tom Waits, the Righteous Brothers, and the members of Steely Dan. He has also interviewed many other public figures, including Sir Richard Branson, F. Lee Bailey, James Carville, Suze Orman, Sydney Pollack, and Wolfman Jack. He lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

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