Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah Paperback – 2 Nov 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
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!
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.Read 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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A bit of a slog,hasnt grabbed me at all, and i am a great Leonard Cohen fanPublished 18 months ago by Amelias Bookshelf.
My overall impression of this book is something of a mixed one. An entertaining read, to some degree, but Mr Footman himself comes across as being rather pedantic and... Read morePublished on 4 Jan. 2014 by Robert Haigh(United Kingdom)
As a Leonard Cohen fan of a few decades, I decided to buy this after seeing a review in The Guardian. I wish I hadn't. Read morePublished on 10 Jun. 2012 by Himself
In my opinion the review of Michael Bromfield sums it up very accurately: "it covers the basics but it has no heart. Read morePublished on 9 April 2011 by Gerrida
Clever, well-written and with a sense of the current zeitgeist. This is a much better effort than other recent tomes on Leonard Cohen. Read morePublished on 8 Dec. 2010 by Stencil
This is not a bad book but it is not a great one either. Essentially, it is a workman like cut and paste job gathering together all of the information that is already out there on... Read morePublished on 13 Oct. 2010 by M. Donovan
.........always from secondary material so in truth this could have been written by anyone with sufficient time to do the research of interviews and articles etc. Read morePublished on 16 Jun. 2010 by Michael Bromfield
Too distant. It's akin to reading an observation of Leonard Cohen. Now I'm not looking for tabloid detail but just a little depth.Still a good read though lacking in substance.Published on 12 Mar. 2010 by Harlequin