Leonard Cohen: The Mystical Roots of Genius (Hardback)
  • Leonard Cohen: The Mystical Roots of Genius (Hardback)
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Leonard Cohen: The Mystical Roots of Genius (Hardback)

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£18.99
Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 28/10/2021
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Waterstones Says

Providing a fascinating, rich new perspective on Cohen and his lyrics, Freedman explores the spiritual inspiration – drawing from Judaism, Christianity and Zen Buddhism – in the life and work of the prolific, much-loved singer-songwriter.

Harry Freedman uncovers the spiritual traditions that lie behind Leonard Cohen's profound and unmistakable lyrics. The singer and poet Leonard Cohen was deeply learned in Judaism and Christianity, the spiritual traditions that underpinned his self-identity and the way he made sense of the world. In this book Harry Freedman, a leading author of cultural and religious history, explores the mystical and spiritual sources Cohen drew upon, discusses their original context and the stories and ideas behind them.

Cohen's music is studded with allusions to Jewish and Christian tradition, to stories and ideas drawn from the Bible, Talmud and Kabbalah. From his 1967 classic 'Suzanne', through masterpieces like 'Hallelujah' and 'Who by Fire', to his final challenge to the divinity, 'You Want It Darker' he drew on spirituality for inspiration and as a tool to create understanding, clarity and beauty.

Born into a prominent and scholarly Jewish family in Montreal, Canada, Cohen originally aspired to become a poet, before turning to song writing and eventually recording his own compositions. Later, he became immersed in Zen Buddhism, moving in 1990 to a Zen monastery on Mount Baldy, California where he remained for some years. He died, with immaculate timing, on the day before Donald Trump was elected in 2016, leaving behind him a legacy that will be felt for generations to come.

Leonard Cohen: The Mystical Roots of Genius looks deeply into the imagination of one of the greatest singers and lyricists of our time, providing a window on the landscape of his soul. Departing from traditional biographical approaches, Freedman explores song by song how Cohen reworked myths and prayers, legends and allegories with an index of songs at the end of the book for readers to search by their favourites. By the end the reader will be left with a powerful understanding of Cohen's story, together with a far broader insight into the mystical origins of his inimitable work.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781472987273
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 584 g
Dimensions: 234 x 153 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'Leonard Cohen: The Mystical Roots of Genius is the book so many of us have been waiting for. In it, Harry Freedman explores, in an entrancingly original and totally accessible way, the spiritual inspiration that is such an integral part of Leonard's work. Beautifully written, this is among the finest volumes on Cohen's life and lyrics. It's an exploration which would have intrigued and engaged Leonard himself.' - John McKenna, writer and friend of Leonard Cohen

'Leonard Cohen taught us that even in the midst of darkness there is light, in the midst of hatred there is love, with our dying breath we can still sing Hallelujah.' - The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
'For those who know and want to know even more, this account of Leonard Cohen's preoccupations and what he made from his knowledge of the religious, is fascinating. A cultural story of a cultural giant.' - Susie Orbach, psychotherapist and author

'Freedman's book highlights even further layers of meaning to the songs which speak so profoundly to so many of us, regardless of faith or spiritual background.' - National Herald

'An intriguing and specific look at the traditions and stories that influenced a brilliant songwriter.' - Library Journal

'There have been several books written about Cohen since his death but none of them, until now has gone deep into his soul. This is not a biography of the man but rather a biography of the the landscape of his soul... Freedman explores song by song how Cohen reworked myths and prayers, legends and allegories and leads us to an understanding of Cohen's life as we gain, insight into the man and his music.' - Reviews by Amos Lassen

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Kid  Ferrous

“An intriguing slant on Leonard Cohen’s work”

Despite not being a religious person, I have always had an interest in Leonard Cohen, both as a singer and as a person, and so I approached this book by author Harry Freedman with an open mind. In it, he examines how... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 2

“Full of biblical and rabbinic mythology”

Few contemporary songwriters have had their work dissected as minutely as Leonard Cohen. His lyrics have been picked apart innumerable times, in books and articles, on film and TV, in pubs, books and on Internet... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 1

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