Sylvie Simmons and Neal Ashley Conrad on Leonard Cohen

Listen to the music journalist Sylvie Simmons talk about Leonard Cohen’s life and career and what it feels like to write a book about him in a conversation with Neal Ashley Conrad

Wednesday 11 December 2019 at 20:00 The Queen's Hall
Sylvie Simmons (UK) og Neal Ashley Conrad (DK)
Sylvie Simmons (UK) og Neal Ashley Conrad (DK)

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Few songwriters have had as profound an influence on the history of rock music as the legendary Leonard Cohen. Before he became known as a singer and songwriter, Cohen was particularly interested in becoming a writer and a poet. In 1967, he issued his first album Songs of Leonard Cohen, which marked the beginning of a long career as a songwriter who particularly sang about love, sex and religion as interwoven entities. His career spanned several decades until his death in 2016. With 14 striking original albums as well as several collections of poetry behind him, Leonard Cohen is one of the great artists of our time, well able to be compared with Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young as one of the most epoch-making and iconic song-writing figures of the 68 generation and whose relevance is undiminished right up to the present day. In 2011, he was awarded Canada’s highest civic mark of honour, the Order of Canada.

LeonardCohen_PhotoBarryMarsdenLeonard Cohen - an epoch-making songwriter. Photo: Barry Marsden

In his private life, however, he did not always feel at his peak. Cohen went through several relationships, but they never ended in marriage. In addition, his financial difficulties have always been notorious, and in 2008 he was obliged to set out on a worldwide tour so as to recuperate the fortune his former manager had stolen from him.

Three years close to Cohen
From 2009 to 2012, the experienced music journalist Sylvie Simmons (UK) worked on a biography of Leonard Cohen. During that three-year period, she closely followed the Canadian rock star and also contacted more than 110 people who were well acquainted with the songwriter. This hard work resulted in 2012 in the biography I’m Your Man, which was proclaimed the definitive biography of the Canadian singer by New York Times. Simmons painted a portrait of a modest and at times self-effacing person with an ever-searching soul, and the book has become a prize-winning bestseller and been translated into 18 different languages.

Sylvie Simmons will be conversing in The Queen’s Hall with Neal Ashley Conrad, who has a PhD in comparative literary history and an MLitt in Nordic literature. He has had a wide-ranging career as a writer, scholar, course organizer and freelance editor as well as a reviewer of literature and rock music. He has furthermore lectured on various legends of the rock-music world, including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen.

This event is coupled with the exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, which has been organised by Musée d’art contemporain deMontréal (MAC) and is being presented in Copenhagen, from 24 October 2019 until 13. April 2020, by Kunstforeningen GL STRAND in collaboration with NikolajKunsthal at both locations.

The conversation will take place in English.