The new book "I'mÂ YourÂ Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen" by the London-born, San Francisco-based music journalist Sylvie Simmons has been called a "mesmerizing labor of love" and â€śthe major, soul-searching biography thatÂ Leonard Cohen deservesâ€ť by Janet Maslin inÂ The New York Times. Simmons is no stranger to charismatic subjects (see her previous biography of Serge Gainsbourg), and this examination of Leonard Cohenâ€™s various roles as poet, novelist, singer-songwriter, visionary, and ladiesâ€™ man reveals a devotion to honoring his talent and exceptional integration of emotion and intellect, made so clear in these lyrics to his song â€śAnthem.â€ť
Ring the bells that still can ringÂ
Forget your perfect offeringÂ
There is a crack in everythingÂ
That's how the light gets in.Â
Simmonsâ€™ nuanced view of Cohen, supported by exhaustive research and unprecedented access to Cohenâ€™s personal archives and interviews with more than a hundred sources closest to Cohen -- including lovers, friends, monks, professors, rabbis, fellow artists, and muses, along with Cohen himself -- follows him from a devout Jewish childhood in Montreal toÂ New York, Mumbai, and the Greek island ofÂ Hydra.
Biographile asked Brooklyn-based illustratorÂ NathanÂ Gelgud to share his take on the book. Below, he illustrates some moments from the chapter about Cohen's years spent living at aÂ Zen centerÂ on a mountaintop above Los Angeles in the 1990s. At the peak of his worldly success (which has included induction into the AmericanÂ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and sold-out world tours), he became an ordained Buddhist monk and took the name Jikan, translated as â€śordinary silence.â€ť