22 December 2016



'I was born like this, I had no choice;
I was born with the gift of a golden voice.'

2016 was quite a year, wasn't it? I mean, we poor Earthlings were hit with almost the full spectrum of everything the Universe, in its infinite wisdom, could throw at us. We've had terror attacks, wars, tsunamis and other kinds of freak weather, BREXIT, earthquakes and political upheavals, including the one in which the guy with the grand healthy-looking thatch of sun-dried hair beat Bill Clinton's missus in the race for the White House.

As if all that wasn't enough, a load of our revered celebrities have actually upped and died on us too, leaving their legions of fans stunned and bereft. Strictly speaking, MOTORHEAD's Lemmy kicked the whole thing off by taking his leave of us in December 2015, then David Bowie followed suit in January, in what was probably the saddest and most shocking celebrity death of the year.

THE EAGLES' Glenn Frey passed away that same month and Prince, or The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, shuffled off his mortal coil in late April, leaving people wondering what the hell the Grim Reaper thought he was playing at, taking so many of our most iconic musicians away from us. A lot of folks started speculating as to who might pop their clogs next, not altogether a healthy pursuit and certainly not one to be encouraged, haha.

Things calmed down then for a bit, but the Grim Reaper wasn't entirely finished with his grisly plan for 2016. He would strike twice more in a big way before the year was out. I was really sad myself to hear that Greg Lake had passed away in December.

Famous not only for being one third of prog rock icons Emerson, Lake and Palmer and lead singer of KING CRIMSON, he was also the guy behind perennial Christmas favourite, I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS.

Every year you hear it on the radio and every year it reminds me of that wonderful TOP OF THE POPS music video in which he played his guitar in the desert with a bunch of camels in the background. And, imagine, it never once gave him the hump...!

I skipped over one of the saddest and most high-profile celebrity deaths that 2016 inflicted on us. On November the seventh, Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, novelist and painter Leonard Cohen passed away quietly at his home at the grand old age of eighty-two.

He will always be remembered for his huge output of songs and poems which dealt with the themes of religion, politics, sex and the male-female dynamic/relationship.

I'M YOUR MAN is an excellent documentary film about Leonard Cohen's life and career. Not surprisingly, it focuses mainly on the music. A veritable galaxy of stars perform their own interpretations of the great man's repertoire of songs.

The line-up includes Nick Cave, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Beth Orton, Jarvis Cocker and a chap called Antony whom I'd never heard of but who really worked his version of 'If It Be Your Will.' Oh, and Bono and The Edge from U2 were in there too...

Bono's bits were so funny. He was filmed in front of this open door talking about how listening to Leonard Cohen's songs had always 'humbled and humiliated him,' obviously because of their superior quality, I guess he means.

But the way there were all these people talking in the background made it seem like Bono was just asked for a few quick quotes on the way to the hotel jacks (an Irish slang word for toilet!) or
something. And he said the funniest thing as well. He started to say that 'some people have dared to just come right up to the Edge and...'

And, what with the Edge, his fellow band member, being present also, I was dying to know what people had dared to come up to him and say. Then Bono continues with: 'the edge of the abyss, the chasm...,' in reference to Leonard Cohen's courageous and sometimes controversial lyrics, and I burst out laughing. Oh, Bono, you Oirish silly-billy, you. I'm Oirish too, by the way, so it's okay for me to slag off Bono and U2 without creating an international incident, haha.

Anyway, it turned out that Bono's rather bouffant presence in the film wasn't accidental or, in fact, incidental either. Later on in the documentary, he and the Edge and Larry and Adam duet with the great man himself to sing possibly my favourite Leonard Cohen song ever, TOWER OF SONG.

The footage is filmed in the Slipper Room in New York and Bono himself does the 'da-doo-dum-dum-dum, da-doo-dum-dum' bits. It all goes rather well, but I still can't help thinking that Bono is a muppet, with a small 'm' out of respect to Jim Henson's adorable cuddly creatures...!

Rufus Wainwright, the American-Canadian singer-songwriter and composer, features heavily in the film along with, it seems, half his family, haha. He tells a somewhat off-the-wall anecdote about the first time he met Leonard Cohen, with whose daughter Lorca he's friends.

When he came to the Cohen's apartment, Leonard was in his underpants, cooking at the stove. He was nibbling at the food and regurgitating the chewed bits to feed a tiny baby bird he was nursing back to health. I was charmed to bits by the great man's love for animals, but the revolting and stomach-churning word 'regurgitation' should never be allowed to appear anywhere, ever...!

Rufus Wainwright himself takes on 'Hallelujah,' the Big One, the Leonard Cohen song that's been covered by about two hundred artists to date. Including, and I have this on good authority, the Dublin city centre busker who apparently never sings anything else. Just 'Hallelujah' all day long. I think all the nearby retailers are planning some sort of class-action-suit against him very, very soon. Jeff Buckley's sexy-as-hell version of the iconic song always does it for me, I must say.

There's some lovely footage of Leonard Cohen himself chatting away about his time as a monk and the fact that he's always favoured suits over jeans, dating back to when his father was a clothing manufacturer. Well, that definitely explains that anyway, haha.

He comes across as a quiet, gentle, good-humoured and self-effacing man. Even though his songs are often about sad or serious topics, the deeply-etched laughter lines around his eyes tell us that here was a man who enjoyed a good laugh. I loved when he said with an ironic, self-deprecating grin:

'My reputation as a ladies' man was a joke. It caused me to laugh bitterly during the ten thousand nights I spent alone.'

It would have been so easy to fall in love with him when he was younger, when he had a full thick head of dark hair that made him look a bit like Al Pacino. And the fact that he was such a brilliant poet too, why, he could have just talked women into bed with his wonderful, wonderful words...!

The film has lots of old photos of the legendary musician in it, including a really cute one of him on his bike when he was a nipper in the late 'Thirties/early 'Forties. It's a top-notch, first-class music documentary, scattered throughout with Leonard Cohen's own unique drawings of nudie women.

It's well worth a watch, and not just for the nudie women, haha. It seems like Leonard Cohen was a real gentleman as well as a songwriting genius and the world will surely be a poorer and sadder place without him. Speaking of which, let's hope that 2016 only has nice surprises left in store for us. We've all been through enough for one year...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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