Classic Rock

Leonard Cohen: Untold Stories: The Early Years

Michael Posner

- Dave Everley

Potrait of the Canadian poetsage as a young man.

Author, poet, lothario Leonard Cohen had lived a life before he released his first album, in 1967 at the age of 32. In this excellent oral history – the first of a proposed trilogy – Canadian author Michael Posner drills down deep into the first three decades of Cohen’s life, charting his unlikely journey from scion of Montreal’s upper-middle-class “Jewish aristocrac­y” to selfprocla­imed Grocer Of Despair and poster boy for bedsitdwel­ling depressive­s everywhere.

Posner has pulled together an almighty chorus of voices to give life to his portrait of a charismati­c figure whose superhuman magnetism enabled him to sail through life effortless­ly, although not undramatic­ally. Relatives, friends and lovers (of whom there were many) pitch in to flesh out his formative years, while there are cameos from the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Nico (the focus of an unrequited crush) and Janis Joplin (with whom Cohen had one of music’s most famous one-night stands).

Focusing on the man rather than his music, it’s one for the committed Cohenophil­e. But then is there any other kind of Leonard Cohen fan? ■■■■■■■■■■

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