The biography I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, arriving in stores tomorrow, led music journalist Sylvie Simmons far beyond the clicking of a Google search button. She retraced the various stages of the singer’s life by physically transporting herself to each and every major sign post.
That meant Montreal in the dead of winter, some time spent at New York’s Chelsea Hotel and a visit to a more unusual location outside LA. She tells San Francisco Chronicle music critic Aidin Vaziri that it was the only way to do justice to the life rhythms of her 77-year-old subject:
Simmons nearly reached a breaking point when she checked into a monastery at Mount Baldy, where Cohen spent five years studying Zen Buddhism in the mid ’90s. She barely made it through a week.
“When I finally sat down with him last December I basically said, ‘Being you wore me out,’ ” she laughed. “I told him, ‘There were times I wanted to shake you and say, ‘What are you doing? Why are you leaving this woman?’ And he would just pat my hand and say, ‘Yes, I know, I know.'”
Before settling in San Francisco, the British-born Simmons got her start as a music journalist in Los Angeles in the 1970s, covering the local scene beginning for weekly British music magazine Sounds. Read the full Chronicle piece here.
Jacket cover courtesy Ecco