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Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah Paperback – 2 Nov 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: CHROME DREAMS (2 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842404725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842404720
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 663,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a precise and illuminating re-telling of the Leonard Cohen story with a truly remarkable narrative, largely absent from modern music biographies. Footman is an original writer and thinker who goes well beyond the call of duty, but never slips into self indulgent persoanl, theories - as has bene so common in previous Cohen biographies. Hugely readable with a jovial mood throughout and delightfully illustrated, this unexpected work is a must for everyone with even a hint of interest in the man.
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Format: Paperback
Footman has created an excellent account of Cohen's music, poetry and personal life from his family's Lithuanian-Jewish roots to his recent bout of world touring. The young Cohen is defined by a combination of his father's death in 1944, his distance from the rest of Montreal's Jewish society and his nigh-on simultaneous discovery of the guitar and the Spanish poet, Lorca. Footman takes us through Cohen's failure to really penetrate the Manhattan counter-culture. Personally, I rather like this aspect of him - he feels too outside the mainstream to even feel fully comfortable with its self-defined antithesis. Instead, he found himself in London, gritting his teeth against the weather in that famous blue raincoat, hanging out at semi-legal parties held amongst the Caribbean immigrant community.

We are told how the first album was prettied up with strings and extra vocals. Nevertheless, I personally think that it has stood the test of time exceptionally well and I actually quite like the fact that the artwork - in common with almost every other Cohen album - is abysmal. The exception, of course, is the cover of `New Skin for the Old Ceremony' and here, I think, Footman implies that there are only two versions of the cover (unless I have missed something - easily done reading on a commuter journey): the one on the UK release and a completely different one for the US audience. Actually I think there are at least 4 versions with varying degrees of censorship of the image derived from the Rosarium philosophorum - which, by the way, is mis-spelled in the sleeve notes to the CD. Nonetheless, it is a powerful image and, for me, fits well with what I find inspiring about Cohen. The book actually got me thinking: `Why do I actually like Cohen?
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Format: Paperback
I agree wholeheartedly with the previous reviewer. I really enjoyed Footman's book: personally I found it easier to read than Nadel's. It was lighter in tone without losing any of the depth, with a comfortable, informal yet articulate style, and some real flashes of humour. Tim's knowledge of Cohen's music (and indeed other artists') was superb and it was a nice surprise to find some Cohen snippets I'd not read before (and I've read many articles on LC in my time!). Also, it was refreshing to read an objective review of Cohen, his life and his music (for example, this is the first time I have seen anyone acknowledge that he re-uses lines and observations over and over in interviews: most reports simply comment on the wit of each one as it is heard.).

This is clearly a book written by an obvious fan of the man, but a very honest and well-balanced one at that. I will be recommending it to my friends who are LC fans - I might even buy it again for my sister!
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Format: Paperback
I find that other reviewers have already highlighted some of the things I found so enjoyable in the book. A major one being the engaging, seemingly easygoing style that simultaneously never treats the subject with less than the respect he deserves.

The "wry, sardonic humour" which the author describes his subject with would also do to cover the tone of the book which is set as early as the description of the author on page 4: "Tim Footman first encountered the words and music of Leonard Cohen in the early 1980s, through the medium of a budget six-track EP on the Pickwick label; he was particularly taken by the beret the singer was sporting in the cover photo." This lightness of tone does not divert the book from tackling serious subjects well.

You find out about Leonard Cohen and you get, or at least feel you get to know the author, too, whose character seeps through unobtrusively. You can imagine pleasantly chatting to him about Leonard over a few lemonades and not noticing time pass.

Another major plus is the deft way that Mr. Footman ropes in the aid of numerous other critics. Quoting other people very astutely allows him to cover a lot of ground very quickly as he catches the main thrusts of others' thoughts concisely by selecting the comments that encapsulate their point of view on Leonard.

It is not unnatural to find some things one disagrees with; I felt one passage showed enthusiasm leading to dubious overkill when, in discussing the mid 1960s, the subject of the biography was described as a "major performer of the era" Many names spring to mind to fit that description but dear old Leonard is not one of them. Still, over-enthusiasm is hardly a major crime and in any case this is extremely uncharacteristic of the approach overall.
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Format: Paperback
I've been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen music lately, I have at least one book of his poems on the shelves, and I know he's been around for a long time. But apart from that, I knew next to nothing about him. So, I read this book and while I'm dissatisfied with it, I came away knowing a little more.

Why the dissatisfaction? After all, there's lots of detail included about the lives and loves of Leonard Cohen, about his early years as a poet and author in Canada, his time in a Buddhist monastery, and information right up to 2009, the year he turned 75, when he went on tour. But this is Leonard Cohen at a distance: information gleaned from various sources and apparently from interviews with others who've known or worked with him. All this is fairly neatly worked into various themes: the role of religion, of sex, of drugs (and not to mention drugs and sex). There's mention, too, of complex interpersonal relationships, and of various (and often differing) answers that Leonard Cohen has given to different questions.

There's a lot of discussion about `Hallelujah', and of covers of Cohen songs that various people have made. There's some mention of his fiction and his poetry, and Tim Footman has kindly provided a list of his own personal top ten Leonard Cohen songs:

Tower of Song; Famous Blue Raincoat; Paper-Thin Hotel; Hallelujah; Bird on the Wire; Who By Fire; Anthem; A Thousand Kisses Deep; Suzanne; and The Great Event.

There is as well, quite a lot of commentary about how bad Tim Footman considers most of the cover art is on various releases. In fact, I think I learned more about some aspects of Tim Footman than I did about Leonard Cohen.
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