Cover image for Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen
Sheppard, David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Thunder's Mouth Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
136 pages : illustrations ; 19 cm.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.C723 S54 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The consort of Janis Joplin and Rebecca De Mornay and one-time collaborator of Phil Spector, Leonard Cohen has for the last five years been a full-time resident of the Mount Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles where he submitted to the rigors of zazen and communal living. He was officially ordained a Buddhist monk and given the name of Jikan (Silent One). Born in Montreal in 1934, Cohen received international recognition for his second collection of poems The Spice Box of the Earth in 1961, rising to prominence in 1967 with his debut album The Songs of Leonard Cohen. His most recent album, The Future, is his eleventh. He has written two novels including the cult classic Beautiful Losers, and eight volumes of poetry. Author David Sheppard explores Cohen's fifty year odyssey through Judaic mythology, drugs, alcohol, sex, and Buddhism. What he finds is a man with a unique ability to serve up bleak but heartfelt individual truth. "Cohen has always been a man of surprises, so much so that many take him to be a man of artful disguises (as he sometimes does himself). His life has always been dangerously mythic..." -- Pico Iyer

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

These are two of the first releases in Kill Your Idols, a new series of TV Guidesized "opinionated biographies" of influential rock performers who have one foot outside the mainstream. Quantick's wit and irreverence suit the Clash's leader-of-the-punk status. He first recounts the group's formation, its rapid rise to being known as "The Only Band That Matters," and the inevitable internecine conflicts that led to its demise. Then comes critical evaluation of each Clash album. Quantick notes that the group broke new ground by absorbing the then-outrereggae and rap styles, and managed to succeed in America without compromising its decidedly British approach. The Clash remains popular 15 years after its last record, as the recent release of vintage live recordings verifies, and its influence is likely to continue. Sheppard traces Cohen from 1940s childhood in Montreal's Jewish community to early acclaim as a poet and novelist and successful pursuit of a musical career to current semiretirement as a Buddhist monk. A song-by-song critical rundown and an assessment of Cohen's legacy follow. In Sheppard's hands the series' title is an idle threat, for he treats Cohen with nearly reverential respect. He isn't the most stylish writer, either, though his information and insights are solid. A lugubrious and monotonous singer, Cohen is an acquired taste. His fans are devoted and numerous, however, and his influence on the likes of Nick Cave and Cowboy Junkies is undeniable. Superior books on both subjects exist, but librarians seeking an expedient way to represent important, overlooked musicians in their collections--other series entries cover Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and Neil Young--should consider the series. Gordon Flagg

Library Journal Review

Because the subjects of the publisher's "Kill Your Idols" series are "unafraid of experimentation," "hold nothing sacred," and "inspireskepticism of idol-making in their listeners" (for the most part), they are perhaps more magnetic than popular music's traditional gods and goddesses. These anti-idols may not have directly sprung from the pelvis of Elvis, but they are related to the Velvet One. Here, original research is not the point (rabid fans have frayed these musicians' yarns anyway); the authors relied on each performer's standard biography, documentaries, liner notes, and other sources to relate a condensed chronology of career and personal highs and lows. Rather, this is a chance for a "professional" fan (read: a music critic) to express his opinions on the roles that pompousness, vision, and circumstance played in his band's life. Each profile is under 150 pages and consists of three sections: "The Story," "The Music," and (often the most compelling section) "The Legacy." Quoth Quantick in his insightful closing: "People were inspired by The Clash not for what they actually achieved, but for what The Clash thought they might achieve." Much like Cliff Notes for frustrating music careers, these pocket-sized biographies contain indexes but no bibliographies. That absence, along with the personalized tone, recommends the series to comprehensive music collections. Johnny Green's A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with the Clash (LJ 1/99) and Ira B. Nadel's Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen (LJ 11/1/96) will well serve library patrons. [The standard Neil Young biography may end up being Shakey: The Biography of Neil Young by Jimmy McDonough, who spent eight years writing the tome. Right now, however, McDonough is suing Young for $1.8 million for prohibiting its publication after Young signed an agreement to cooperate with McDonough. Ed.] Heather McCormack, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.