As Leonard Cohen turns 80, a new biography by Liel Leibovitz explores the life, work and passion of the poet-turned-musician. What makes Cohen such an enduring international figure in the cultural imagination?
Granted extraordinary access to Cohen's personal papers, Leibovitz evokes a complicated, sometimes contradictory figure. Born into a Canadian religious Jewish family, for years a reclusive lyricist on the Greek island of Hydra, known for his bold political commentary, his devotion to Buddhist thought and his later despair over contemporary Zionism, Cohen hardly follows the rules of a conventional rock star.
An intimate look at a man who, despite battles with stage fright and years spent in hermit-like isolation, is still touring and now seems to be reaching a new peak of popularity.
In the third episode, having altered the course of his life with the decision to start writing music, Cohen faces a creative struggle with those around him in the recording studio. Will the release of Bird on the Wire change his fortunes?
Read by Julian Barratt, with Leonard Cohen quotes read by Colin Stinton.
Abridged by: Jo Coombs
Producer: Pippa Vaughan
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.