Leonard Cohen: The Man Who Saw the Angels Fall

ECW. Sept. 2024. 500p. ISBN 9781770417441. pap. $29.95. BIOG
This is a rhapsodic and fluidly written new take on Canadian poet/crooner/troubadour and pessimistic, introspective social commentator Cohen (1934–2016). Lebold (literature, performance studies, and rock culture, Univ. of Strasbourg) follows Cohen’s journey from Montreal to New York (with frequent stops in Los Angeles and Paris) and to Greece. This hefty edition updates Lebold’s 2013 Cohen biography, previously published in France. Cohn was a Sabbath-observing Jewish man who wrote Hallelujah and was influenced by other religions (including Zen, after living in a California monastery). His music’s themes of sexually frank and delicate love compare with those of his admirer Bob Dylan. Cohen had romantic relationships with several women, including Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and his long-term muse Marianne Ihlen, all of whom deeply affected his interpretations of life. Lebold offers three portraits of him—a man who saw angels and mostly everyone else fall, pulled down by gravity; an eternal pilgrim, explorer, and wanderer; and a metaphysician of the broken heart. This analytical biography meticulously charts Cohen’s career and artistic output, situating him within popular culture around the world.
VERDICT This big biography of Cohen will appeal to a wide variety of readers, especially the philosophically minded.
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