I’m Your Man – A Walk Through Nostalgia – the Biography of Leonard Cohen
I remember in the seventies a friend saying to me that no personal record
collection was complete without at least one Leonard Cohen album in it. At
that time – must have been around 1976, and not wanting to be outdone, I
rushed out and bought the first two albums I came across – Songs from a Room
and Songs of Love and Hate. When I played them I was flabbergasted – I had
never heard anything more depressing, laboured and distasteful, with the
possible exception of a couple of songs on Lou Reed’s album Berlin. When I
challenged my friend saying something like “Why the hell do I need this
suicidal stuff in my record collection?” the reply was that I should listen
again and again and the songs might grow on me. Like warts, I thought! But I
did listen again and again and when a year later I found myself going
through a severe period of depression, listening to them not only brought me
a strange sense of comfort but an equally strange kind of release. I had
become something of a convert!
This marvelous biography of the great man, by Sylvie Simmons, is a treat to
read and a worthy tribute to an incredible life. It is a real page-turner
and gives readers a deeper and more meaningful insight into the man himself,
his thinking and his extraordinary character. It must have been about 1979
when the real revelation of his genius came for me, when I first remember
hearing Judy Collins sing Suzanne – I was hooked and equally I was hooked on
this book from the very first page with its intriguing title “Born in a
Suit”. The biography leaves no stone unturned – the author deals in
intricate and fascinating detail with his Jewish family background in the
Westmount area of Montreal before the second world war, his university life
with its trials and tribulations and then – perhaps the most fascinating of
all – the almost endless list of lovers that entered and left Leonard’s life
right up to the present day. The stories are astonishing! I’m Your Man is
certainly the most appropriate title anyone could think of – and who thought
of it? Leonard Cohen of course, as it is the title of one of his later songs
and the title of a marvelous DVD made in the first decade of the new
millennium to celebrate the work of this remarkable artist. The book covers
everything and everyone – his love of Greece on the island of Hydra, his
modesty when he became famous, his time at the Chelsea Hotel in New York,
his two children Adam and Lorca, the musicians and singers with whom he
associated – Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Janis Joplin, Nico and Lou Reed of the
Velvet Underground, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Mungo Jerry, Jackson Browne,
The Who, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, record producers including
Phil Spector and on and on – his great love for his Zen Master Rishi and his
ordination into the ranks of Buddhist monkhood and so much more. It is a
wonderful and engaging read – all 500 pages – and it comes almost up-to-date
in May 2012, following Leonard’s impressive schedule of world tours, new
loves and new songs and even more of his bountiful poems.
To be a page-turner, any book, and especially a biography, needs to be
stimulating, readable and interesting – the author realises all of this with
her very well written prose, the careful balance she achieves between social
and work-related issues in Leonard’s life, the fascinating deeper personal
details which trigger so many nostalgic thoughts and memories, and the way
in which her writing is totally non-judgemental. Sylvie Simmons has an
admirable style. Having said all that I do have two minor criticisms: the
photographs are inserted in the text and thus printed on matt paper, many of
them being old and the result is that a lot of them are dark and the people
in them obscure and unrecognizable; and the second thing I would have loved
for reference would have been a list of all his poetry books with dates and
the albums/CDs/DVDs also with dates. Overall however, I would recommend this
book to any friend and further recommend having any of Leonard’s DVDs or CDs
or poetry books to hand to be watched, listened to, or read between the main
text of the book – that gives the whole experience so much more meaning.
I’m Your Man – The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons: published by
Jonathan Cape, London, 2012.
Life at 33 1/3: Black Sabbath: Master Of Reality
By Carl Meyer
Released: July 1971
1. Sweet Leaf (5:05)
2. After Forever (5:27)
3. Embryo (Iommi) (0:28)
4. Children Of The Grave (5:18)
1. Orchid (Iommi) (1:31)
2. Lord Of This World (5:27)
3. Solitude (5:02)
4. Into The Void (6:13)
songs written and composed by Black Sabbath except where noted, all lyrics
by Geezer Butler.
The cough, out of nowhere, tears the silence into pieces, its mighty echo
bounces from the walls, zigzagging through your mind. The shock is
paralyzing even if it lasts for less than five seconds. It is so terrifying
and unexpected that you instantly become disorientated. Pure horror. It
makes your hair stand on end.
Then the guitar riff unfolds in its heavy, oily rotations – pushed right
into your guts by the immaculate power of the band. “All right now!” It must
be the strongest opening seconds on any album in rock history. Even today,
42 years later, that exploding cough is just as jarring. And when “Sweet
Leaf” hits you, there is no turning back. It owns you, you feel like
building a tiny altar for Black Sabbath.
“Master Of Reality” is their third LP. It is monumental and straight to the
point. The debut-album was more varied, slightly slapdash, and included a
brave flirt with the epics. “Paranoid”, whose title track became a massive
hit single, was more focused.
and Ozzy Osbourne perform on stage in this January 1973 photo.
“Master Of Reality” doesn’t mess about;
its huge, dark sound is established by the opening bars, and they (almost)
never shy away from it. There are three exceptions: two short, acoustic
Iommi-instrumentals and the super slow, airy and unexpectedly beautiful
lament “Solitude”. These disruptions are necessary, otherwise the album
would have pushed the listener so hard against the wall that he would
Iommi’s special guitar tunings (down to C# from the normal E) - copied by
Geezer Butler’s bass to match — gave the music a lead heavy and gloomy
timbre. The low tuning adds to Iommi’s signature guitar sound, a meandering,
fuzzy drone as it coils itself around the unusually lazy, almost sticky
tempo of the tunes.
With this the band achieves a brutally slow attack on the senses that feels
absolutely threatening. It’s a sound that countless bands have tried to
copy, none has ever even come close. What Black Sabbath delivers on “Master
Of Reality” is the ultimate heavy. And they walk it with such effortless
grace. Contemporary metal tries to achieve this with speed and noise, Black
Sabbath does it with style. Less is always more.
The album sleeve was misinterpreted at the time. Many thought it was
supposed to be some sort of invitation to a Black Mass by the devil himself.
They were in for a surprise when they got to the lyrics. One of the cuts,
“After Forever”, is a catholic song of worship to religion and God. Now
stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, you death metal-addicts!
There are also songs of global concern for our present, our future and the
coming generations. This album cares big time. Lyrical depth like this was
absolutely unexpected on a heavy rock record in 1971.
The disc should be played so loud that your neighbours attack your front
door with a baseball bat - only at that level you will get the full effect
of the power of the lower register that is hidden in the vinyl grooves. The
force is simply delicious. It is the Tony Iommi-show all the way. His guitar
sound is incomparable, it fills the entire room. If you never heard the
album before, you’re sure in for a treat. You’ll be hooked. Forever!
Ozzy Osbourne deserves honour too. A wonderful voice in these surroundings,
his blistering moaning is the fingerprint of all classic Black Sabbath
recordings. No empty gestures, none of the nerve-racking howls that seem to
be the standard of later heavy rock-bands. Ozzy is a glorifying individual,
he doesn’t sound like anybody else.
He is also a very funny guy to party with, as I experienced when he invited
me with the band to a porn club in Gothenburg in 1974. When the live show
started, Ozzy pulled down his pants and charged for the naked couple on the
stage with a roar of delight, only to have us all thrown out. Then we tried
to fit all into the back seat of a taxi cab, impossible of course as people
kept falling out on the other side of the car until all of us lay in a pile
on the frozen street laughing, the taxi driver drove off, angry, and we
“Master Of Reality” was ripped to shreds by the critics in 1971. Today it is
considered one of rock music’s greatest classics, regardless of weight
class. I loved it from the moment that cough split my brain in two, and I
was so annoyed by the lukewarm review in New Musical Express. Today it feels
good to know that Black Sabbath won.
NB: Next week’s review: Iron Butterfly: “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”.
Chiang Mai Watercolours
Wut is one of the six artists on
display at Sangdee Gallery.
By Shana Kongmun
Sangdee Gallery on Sirimangkalajarn soi 5 is hosting an
exhibition by five Thai artists under the tutelage of Ajarn
Thanakorn Chaijinda and the delicate paintings gracing the walls
are lovely to behold. As Veerawut Muttarak one of the artists
pointed out, he wants his paintings to offer a calming effect,
and the landscapes, flowers and other paintings offer just that.
Ajarn Thanakorn’s magnificent golden landscape dominates the
entrance but take care to walk around and view each painting.
From ethereal Impressionistic landscapes to detailed portraits
of places and animals to a less than simple pen and ink drawing,
the exhibition showcases the talents of these artists as they
visualize places from as afar as Venice, Burma and as near as
Thanakorn Chaijinda’s landscape
offers up a golden glow.
Capturing Thailand through Google Glass
By Don Freeman
By the time the Christmas holidays roll around this
year, I’ll have one of the first sets of Google Glasses in
Chiang Mai. Imagine being able to walk our mountains and temples
and capture the sights, sounds and experiences hands-free.
That’s what Google Glass will allow me to do and most people
here won’t even realize that my “Glasses” can do everything my
smartphone can do.
Google is getting ready to launch Google Glass sooner than
expected. The launch was previously expected in 2014. Company
CEO Sergey Brin has now publicly moved the launch to later this
year. At the TED 2013 Conference last month Brin performed a
live demonstration of Google Glass. He said the product launch
will occur just in time for the Christmas holiday shopping
The Glass field looks to be a competitive arena and Google is
securing first-mover advantage. Other companies have filed
patents indicating that they are developing a similar product.
Microsoft, Apple, Blackberry, Samsung and Sony are all rumored
to be developing their own glass product. All these companies
see the Glass market as the next big market after the mobile
handset and smart phone device category.
With Google Glass, the user has a wearable computer that has the
same features as a smartphone. Everything is visible through the
head mounted display. The first demos that have been seen appear
to look like regular eyeglasses. There’s even speculation that
one day the Google Glass can be fitted with prescription lenses.
Google Glass will operate via voice commands. If I want to take
a picture or record a video, I just say “Take picture” or
“Record video”. One of the most exciting aspects is that I can
share what I’m currently seeing with anyone I want to via a
Google Hangout through Google+ or Gmail.
How many awesome sunsets or sunrises have we seen here in
Thailand? I can record the sunset or sunrise and shoot the live
video and invite my friends to view it with me and see what I’m
seeing with Google Glass. So what I’ll be doing is viewing the
scene, recording it and talking to my friends at the same time
as we all watch it. It’ll be like having them with me.
For me the most exciting and functional aspect to Google Glass
is the ability to incorporate directions and maps visually. I’ve
always wondered why Google spent so much time and money with
Google Street View and mapping the entire world. Now I know why.
With Google Glass, you can ask for directions and it will give
them to you in Google Glass. Now when you’re driving or walking,
you have the directions right in front of you hands-free.
Google has effectively bundled all of their services into a
usable wearable computer. If you want to Google something, just
ask and the answer will show up in Google Glass. If I need to
translate something into Thai, I just ask Google Glass and I get
the translation and pronunciation. As all of us expats know
living here in Thailand, this feature alone is priceless and
makes Google Glass worthwhile.
The Glasses themselves are strong and light. Colors available
include charcoal, tangerine, shale, cotton and sky. Recently
Google CEO Larry Page went on the New York City Subway wearing
the Glasses and most people failed to recognize that he was
wearing Google Glasses.
The deeper I delve into the Google Glass product, the more
excited I get about the stock. Google’s stock continues to make
new highs and the stock is up 16% so far this year and up 45%
since June 2012. Most analysts price targets for Google now
range from $900 to $1000. The company has a forward P/E of 15
and that’s still very cheap for a growth company. Google has an
operating margin of 26%, which is one of the highest in the
industry. Google has over $48 billion in cash on its balance
sheet, or $145 per share.
The momentum players see a compelling valuation and a company
with tremendous growth prospects. The creation of the Google
Glass product is truly revolutionary. Technologists have been
wanting to create a wearable computer for the past 50 years, but
none have been able to do it and develop a commercial product.
Google looks to have done that and that’s why I’m not only
buying Google Glass, but also buying Google stock.
10 Cool Things you can do with Google Glass
· Take pictures with voice command
· Access Google Hangout,
· Record a video and share with others real time.
· Pop up a reminder for you next appointment
· Weather Reports
· Dictate Texts and messages to friends and family using
Google’s cloud-based speech recognition
· Travel Alerts
· Access Google Maps and get Directions
Don Freeman is president of Freeman Capital Management, a
Registered Investment Advisor with the US Securities Exchange
Commission (SEC), based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He has over 15
years experience and provides personal financial planning and
wealth management to expatriates. Specializing in UK and US
pension transfers. Call 089-970-5795 or email: