Leonard Cohen

The Prophet in the Library

The previously undiscovered speech that launched Leonard Cohen's career

When Leonard Cohen was asked about his plans for the future in 1964, he grinned and said “suicide.” This previously undiscovered speech recreates his thinking at the time.

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If the very notion of best albums seems dated in 2012, these make a case for the vitality of longform recorded music.

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The vice president was not at Rufus Wainwright’s house, I know. Yet the sweet little scene that Joe Biden described on Meet the Press, of infectious warmth in a family with same-sex parents, sounded almost as if it had been taken from the lyrics of the latest Wainwright album, Out of the Game.

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Before Bruce Springsteen put together the first incarnation of the E Street Band, forty years ago, he had a scrappy little bar band called Steel Mill, which played at my friend Doug Mendini’s eighth-grade graduation party. Like Springsteen, Doug and I were both literary-minded products of New Jersey factory towns (I worked for the summer before my first year of college in a steel foundry, on the late shift with my father), and a tenuous early sense of kinship with Springsteen has given me a weakness for his work.

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Desperate Dictatorship

Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival By Maziar Bahari with Aimee Molloy (Random House, 356 pp., $27) Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran - A Journey Behind the Headlines By Scott Peterson (Simon & Schuster, 732 pp., $32) After Khomeini: Iran Under His Successor By Saïd Amir Arjomand (Oxford University Press, 268 pp., $24.95) Political Islam, Iran, And the Enlightenment: Philosophies of Hope and Despair By Ali Mirsepassi (Cambridge University Press, 230 pp., $85)  I. For the regime in Iran, opacity in politics, dissimulation in discourse, and the obfuscation

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Book of Longing Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen   As anyone who has ever balanced a salad spinner on his or her nose for two days could tell you, the secret of getting into The Guinness Book of World Records is to invent your own category, and the same principle applies in the arts. Distinctiveness, which is something different from distinction, tends to lead to recognition.

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