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A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen Hardcover – April 14, 2014
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“This is a wise book, and it asks poignant and incisive questions… The time is right for an elegant examination of the man’s work: his passions, his fears, his poetry, his anger, his loneliness, his redemption. The time is right for Leibovitz’s A Broken Hallelujah.” (Alan W. Petrucelli - Examiner)
“Absolutely outstanding.” (Naomi Tropp - Jewish Book Council)
Top Customer Reviews
As one progresses through A BROKEN HALLELUJAH, it becomes ever clearer how this is not a conventional biography. For one thing, it is very much on the short side. Leibovitz does not cram his book with every scrap of information he can scour concerning his subject’s life; he does not present us with Cohen’s every adolescent pimple, nor do we see the poet/singer brushing his teeth at night or practicing his guitar in the mornings. This slender volume has very specific concerns, which are rendered deftly through a number of haunting episodes. Leibovitz sets out not to write yet another life of a musician, not really to see him as a singer at all, but to imagine him as a kind of Old Testament Prophet. “So what is the Prophet Cohen telling us?” he asks at the end of his preface. “And why do we listen so intently?”
To a secular Jew such as myself, this is both an appealing and a suspect premise. On the one hand, Laughing Lenny is just the sort of prophet I can get on board with. After all, one does not recall Isaiah or Elijah writing about getting “head/ On the unmade bed” the way Cohen does. On the other hand, there is the nagging fear that this is another tired attempt to make religion “cool” to an increasingly secularized society. This gives Leibovitz a precarious road to follow, and he treads it judiciously.
The religiosity of Cohen’s lyrics has been apparent from his first record.Read more ›
The book has only 246 short pages. The content is good but not all of it is on Cohen. There are pages devoted to related subjects such as Canadian literature, Jewish history and Bob Dylan. In the first chapter "Prelude", Cohen does not emerge for 12 pages.
There are some good insights such as the difference in Canadian and American artists, the concept of "duende" (which suits Cohen's voice and content) and Cohen's views on his work. There are amazing episodes such as the visit to/escape from Cuba, recording with Phil Spector (dinner with Phil Spector!) and the two performance tours in Israel.
Liebovitz, in some places uses Cohen's own words to describe him. His opening to his audience in Poland shows how he refuses to be used by anyone (to me, they related to the episode where Dylan seems to expect Cohen to perform at his concert); his speech in support of the Bereaved Parents for Peace in Israel shows his long apolitical view; and his reflection on the embezzlement of most of his assets show his forgiveness and resilience.
Each chapter is introduced with a full page photo of Cohen, so you watch him mature. As of this writing he is 80 and has maintained audiences through at least 4 generations (depending on how you count, maybe 5). He has just released a new album and in 2013 performed in tours in Europe and the US.
If you are a fan of Cohen you probably know all the biographical material that is eliminated or pruned and will appreciate the commentary and insight.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like liked that it wasn't a traditional biography in that the focus was entirely on Cohen's art. To the extent that the author included Cohen's personal history, it was clearly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Zillah Bahar
Nothing short of brilliant! The writing goes from excellent to astounding to magical. The book is extremely will researched without the research being shoved in one's face. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Michael QE
In the introduction Leibovitz states that this is not a biography. Interesting that Philip Weinstein said the same thing in his book about Jonathan Franzen. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Gut Reaction Reviews
Very good book about our wonderful Leonard Cohen. Takes you thru his poetry to his recording history.
Also touches on his Zen years. I learned a lot of things about him. Read more
I felt closer to Cohen than ever before in my 46 years of following and loving this monumental artist. Understanding him in his Jewish grounding added cherished new layers.Published 11 months ago by Alee Karpf
I was looking to understand him better and this book helped me to do that...tho' it was a bit wordy in some