The primary difference between these two books is that Rod is in the first person and I'm Your Man is in the third. So Rod speaks in his own hale and witty voice, while Leonard is a character called "Leonard" — observed, remarked and commented upon, creeping about with his briefcase under the thick lens of biography. Again, this accords with their distinct Blakeian roles. Leonard rewards analysis; Rod repels it. Leonard, in his depth and his darkness, must be gone into. He is doomed to be the object of a thousand academic/poetic pursuits and exegeses (from about 1965 on, there's always been somebody making a documentary about him). Rod, on the other hand, is the uninspected ass-wiggle of subjectivity itself.

They were very potent, both of them, in their prime. Rod with the Faces in 1971 was a fine combination of thrust and delicacy, hooter and bouff, phallically arced at the mike, shoulders high and jacket shiny, eyes closed, elbows working to squeeze out that top note — "Mother, don't you recognize your son?" His voice was bawdy and ages-old, a prodigy of sexual exhaustion. And you had to love the Faces — Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, the other two — their brotherly bar-band wallop, their utter lack of Satanic pretension or Tolkien-flavored twiddling, the proto-punk gusto with which they bashed through a song like "Borstal Boys." ("Cell block five, how I hate Bromide/With your coffee in the morning makes you so sterile.") Friendship flowed from the stage like booze. "Put simply," remembers Rod, "in the crudest terms, and as everyone in the rock'n'roll business knows, the rule is as follows: in bands there's always one cunt who no one gets on with. In the glory days of the Faces, this time-honored truth simply didn't apply."

Leonard played the Isle of Wight Festival in the summer of 1970, wandering on stage with his band at 4 am, after days of riot and recrimination, and taking a lovely pilled-out swan dive into "Bird on the Wire" — "Like...a...BUURRHHHD. . . . " The kids were smoldering and confused, and Leonard at that moment was their hero, their rumpled tutor in crisis, hunched into his safari suit like a little Indiana Jones of the spirit. ("He was calm," one of the band members tells Simmons, "because of the Mandrax.") Slowly and carefully, in his deep voice, he told them about his friend Nancy. "It was in 1961, she went into the bathroom and blew her head off with her brother's shotgun. [Pause] In those days there was not this kind of horizontal support. [Pause] She was right where all of you are now but there was no one else around." Horizontal support. What an image, totally Cohen-esque, a double vision: of Love laterally enlarging itself, and of these campfires of disaffection before him, the sour sprawl of hippiedom across the hillsides.

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Related: Interview: Sapphire speaks her mind, Slideshow: Leonard Cohen at the Wang Theatre, Exploring deep within, More more >
  Topics: Books , Leonard Cohen, Rod Stewart, Books,  More more >
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