A Broken Hallelujah: Rock %E2%80%98n' Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen

Leil Leibovitz. Norton, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-08205-0
Fact and fandom blend together in this brief biography of Leonard Cohen, the unlikely elder statesman of rock and roll who began his career as one of Canada's leading poets. This is in part due to the self-mythologizing persona of the depressive, largely enigmatic singer, but also explains the Leibovitz's inconsistent tone. There are long, slow stretches of scholarly analysis concerning Cohen's place in Canadian literature and the relationship between his frequently morose lyrics and Jewish theology. Liebovitz isn't alone in praising Cohen's demanding lyrics, but some sections appear less biographical and more an insistent attempt to explain Cohen's status as "a connoisseur's choice," as opposed to a mainstream pop music icon. On "Suzanne" and "Sisters of Mercy," Leibovitz writes that they are a pair of "tightly knit creations, almost too perfect to live in this world." Still, Leibovitz manages a graceful celebration of Cohen's late-in-life renaissance, where his artistry and self-consciousness forged the iconic "Hallelujah," recorded in 1984, after 10 years' tormented labor. This vivid account of the stage-shy musician struggles to quell the author's admiration for Cohen, but succeeds in introducing this interesting, sometimes elusive life in song. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/14/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 266 pages - 978-1-910124-14-7
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Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-393-35073-9
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