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Leonard Cohen — Suzanne
Album: The Essential Leonard Cohen
Avg rating:
8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 647









Released: 2002
Length: 3:46
Plays (last 30 days): 0
Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river.
You can hear the boats go by,
You can spend the night beside her.
And you know she's half crazy,
But that's why you want to be there.
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China.
And just when you mean to tell her that you have no love to give her,
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover.

And you want to travel with her,
And you want to travel blind,
And you know she will trust you,
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.

And Jesus was a sailor, when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower.
And when he knew for certain, only drowning men could see him,
He said: "All men will be sailors then, until the sea shall free them."
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open,
Foresaken, almost human,
He sank beneath your wisdom, like a stone

And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.

Now Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river.
She's wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters.
And the sun pours down like honey on our Lady of the Harbor.
And she shows you where to look, among the garbage and the flowers.
There are heroes in the seaweed,
There are children in the morning,
They are leaning out for love,
They will lean that way forever,
While Suzanne holds the mirror.

And you want to travel with her,
And you want to travel blind,
And you know you can trust her
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind.
Comments (102)add comment

Rest in Peace, Leonard Cohen. I'm struggling mightily with all the heartbreak in my world in recent days; I can only imagine a future rife with protest, anger, trepidation and anxiety; this is new for me. I am now perhaps counting on Music to help me even more than usual...
Your song stays with us, Mr. Cohen {#Cry}
RIP
Sweet sounds and sentiments from Montreal's master poet songster. Farewell gentle and generous man.
Rest in peace, Leonard
First LC tune I've heard since his passing yesterday.  RIP Leonard
He does a far superior version in his most recent live release and is a considerably older man (74, at that time).  Hard to not find something alluring in this rather simple song (by Cohen's standard, I would guess).
kcar wrote: We miss you too, Cynaera. RIP.

Huh?
Judy Collins did a nice version of this.
 Cynaera wrote:

I can remember in about 1972 when I was still in high school, my best friend Peggy and I performed this song during lunch-hour at the high school plaza. We sang harmony and played acoustic guitars, and people came to listen, and they stayed.  So we did some Jim Croce songs, and a couple of Joni Mitchell songs, and an original song written by a fellow classmate - and we weren't bad. The audience loved us, but classes called, so we had to shoulder our guitars, wave our goodbyes, and get to our next class (mine was math, Peggy's was auto-shop.)

I still love this song, even though when I hear Cohen's rendition, I still flash back to my and Peggy's version and smile...

  

Cynaera wrote:

And I had no idea, at the time, that this was a Cohen song.  Peggy always was ahead of her time. RIP, my darling friend.

 
We miss you too, Cynaera. RIP. 
 mmoyer wrote:

Yeah, isn't it amazing how much it's changed?
 



I don't understand, and maybe this is because I only hear what other people play, but I don't understand how Cohen could have used such interesting musical arrangements back then yet use such horrible arrangements more recently? It just serves poetry so much more.
Oh, how i want to travel with this song. And Suzanne...
 lemmoth wrote:
Boy - I never realized his voice used to be in that register.
 
Yeah, isn't it amazing how much it's changed?
Most songwriters would give their eyeteeth to write lines like this:-

"And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from china"

Let alone the balance of the lyrics
Great song although  I prefer the liveversion...
 Cynaera wrote:

And I had no idea, at the time, that this was a Cohen song.  Peggy always was ahead of her time. RIP, my darling friend.

 

Thanks for that story, Cynaera
Ah,the Suzy song,cool !
 Cynaera wrote:

I can remember in about 1972 when I was still in high school, my best friend Peggy and I performed this song during lunch-hour at the high school plaza. We sang harmony and played acoustic guitars, and people came to listen, and they stayed.  So we did some Jim Croce songs, and a couple of Joni Mitchell songs, and an original song written by a fellow classmate - and we weren't bad. The audience loved us, but classes called, so we had to shoulder our guitars, wave our goodbyes, and get to our next class (mine was math, Peggy's was auto-shop.)

I still love this song, even though when I hear Cohen's rendition, I still flash back to my and Peggy's version and smile...

 
And I had no idea, at the time, that this was a Cohen song.  Peggy always was ahead of her time. RIP, my darling friend.

I'm sorry, but that was just boring, boring, boring. Although, the lyrics (see below) are cool.

A classic forever but kind of prefer Judy Collins.


Nick Cave - Leonard Cohen's Suzanne, Live

Nick Cave in Leonard Cohen's song Suzanne

Suzanne takes you down to her place newer the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that shes half crazy
But thats why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from china
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That youve always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For youve touched her perfect body with your mind.

And jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe youll trust him
For hes touched your perfect body with his mind.

Now suzanne takes you hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From salvation army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For shes touched your perfect body with her mind


 jadewahoo wrote:
This may be one of the most perfect of songs ever written and performed.

 
I can remember in about 1972 when I was still in high school, my best friend Peggy and I performed this song during lunch-hour at the high school plaza. We sang harmony and played acoustic guitars, and people came to listen, and they stayed.  So we did some Jim Croce songs, and a couple of Joni Mitchell songs, and an original song written by a fellow classmate - and we weren't bad. The audience loved us, but classes called, so we had to shoulder our guitars, wave our goodbyes, and get to our next class (mine was math, Peggy's was auto-shop.)

I still love this song, even though when I hear Cohen's rendition, I still flash back to my and Peggy's version and smile...

 TigtheRed wrote:
This song made my wife want to stab the intertubes with a spork.
 

good one!!!!
This song made my wife want to stab the intertubes with a spork.
Boy - I never realized his voice used to be in that register.
Still a 10, never gets old for me.....{#Music}
One of my favorite all time singers.  gosh...so lovely.
ahhhhhhhhhh.   {#Hearteyes}
 SuzG wrote:
{#Good-vibes}
 
{#High-five}

{#Good-vibes}


Nina Simone did a version of this?  I gotta hear that.
 FrankMc wrote:
It's amazing what a few decades of singing and smoking will do to a voice. I love the tanned baritone of Cohen's voice of the new millenium, but he could almost pass for Donovan way back when this came out (roughly contemporaneously with Mr. Leach's golden era.)
 
Quite. I didn't recognise this voice as Cohen's, having only heard his later stuff on RP on which his voice is so deep as to be subsonic (which could be why it gives me the willies). This is a nice old song, and tells a tale. Cohen surely does know how to write musical poetry. 7 from the Nottingham jury.


Judy Collins sings Cohen's "Suzanne" Live-acoustic:

"Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter Judy Collins has reached a folk-goddess pedestal in a career that spans almost 50 years. But lately, she has also emerged as a funny Irish-American storyteller. She joins us to talk about her songs, show-tunes and social activism."

"Phrasing suffers somewhat to the melodic flow of the piano but to see her proficiency on the keyboard is well worth the exchange."        dancgear

"Saw Judy in 1993, grew up listening to her. Nothing can compare to her voice.....the only one who comes close is Judy Garland...but they are vastly different, but sublime in their own ways."        vgoth100

 

Judy Collins - Interview about Leonard Cohen, "Suzanne":




Judy Collins & Leonard Cohen - "Suzanne" Live, Chicago (1976):

"They never recorded anything together. The only duet that exists is this clip, and another song, from this 1976 TV broadcast. On Judy's upcoming album, due in May, she will have a duet with Stephen Stills and another with Joan Baez. That's not the same, I know, but still newsworthy."

"Pour une très large part c'est Judy Collins qui a fait de Lenny Cohen un artiste de scène, il lui a chanté Suzanne au téléphone, elle l'a enregistrée et publiée avant lui (sans même le copyright officiel) cela a "débloqué" Cohen avec le succès que l'on sait. Bravo à tous deux."

LEONACOHEN interview, on JUDY COLLINS and "Suzanne":RD 

"Leonard Cohen talks about meeting Judy Collins, and later singing "Suzanne" to her over the telephone. Judy Collins talks about the night she brought Leonard with her to sing at a concert at New York's Town Hall."


wiki excerpt:

In any case, its lyrics first appeared as the poem "Suzanne Takes You Down" in Cohen's 1966 book of poetry Parasites of Heaven, admittedly because of lack of new material (lyrics to a few other songs from his subsequent 1967 debut album were also printed in the book).

The song "Suzanne" was first recorded by Judy Collins the same year, and appeared on her 1966 album In My Life. It was later released by Cohen himself on his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen

The song was also performed and recorded by Nina Simone in several occasions. It appears in her album Tell It Like It Is, in a live version at the Philarmonic Hall New York in 1969. It also appears in her album Just Like A Woman, where she sings classic songs of the '60s.

Other notable early versions were by Noel Harrison (whose recording was a minor hit) and seminal British folk-rock group Fairport Convention.<4> In fact Fairport Convention were among Cohen's earliest admirers, and their take on "Suzanne" was sung as a duet between Sandy Denny and Iain Matthews for the BBC in August 1968; the recording was released on their BBC sessions compilation Heyday.

It has since been covered by many other artists.<1> Early versions of "Suzanne" included those by Pearls Before Swine, Françoise Hardy, and Harry Belafonte. The song was recorded by Joan Baez on her 1975 double album, From Every Stage. Bruce Springsteen supposedly performed the song at least once early in his career as a member of The Castiles. Some foreign remakes of the song include the Dutch version by Herman van Veen in 1969 (there also exists a Dutch song called "Suzanne" by VOF de Kunst from 1983, but that is a different song) and the Italian version by Fabrizio de André in 1984. Journey took their version to number 17 on Billboard's Top 40. The British experimental rock group The Flying Lizards released a version with detached, cold vocals sung over dark samples on their 1984 LP Top Ten. Peter Gabriel recorded a syncopated version of "Suzanne" for the Leonard Cohen tribute album Tower of Song, and Geoffrey Oryema performed it on the earlier tribute I'm Your Fan. Tori Amos performed this song during her Original Sinsuality Tour in 2005. James Taylor took his own approach onto it as part of his 2008 album Covers.

Samplers have found use for "Suzanne" as well. Robert McKay used lines from Cohen's poem as chapter headers in his 1969 young adult novel Dave's Song. Verses of the song are played intermittently throughout the 1974 movie The Second Coming of Suzanne, starring Sondra Locke, Paul Sand, Jared Martin and Richard Dreyfuss. UK guitar-wielding rapper Plan B sampled the song for his Paint It Blacker mixtape, detailing a fictionalised account of a prostitute killed by the Camden Ripper and dumped in the river. "Suzanne" recorded in french by Sylvie Vartan on her 2007 Nouvelle Vague album. The band R.E.M. gave Cohen a joint songwriting credit for their song "Hope" (on their 1998 album Up), in light of the similarity between the two songs. R.E.M. describe themselves as realising that similarity only after completing the song.


thanks bill
and leonard
Sublime.
A really really beautiful song. So soothing. Delt this one a 9.
Amazing that I had never rated this song before - an easy 10 - though I suppose Bill doesn't actually play it very often - come to think of it, I don't remember ever hearing him play it in six and a half years...
There were three songs that all came out close to the same time that really made an impression on me in my teens. One was this one, another was Neil Young's Sugar Mountain and the other Joni Mitchell's Circle Game. Those really defined the times for me..
 gjeeg wrote:
I guess I get a failing grade in my pop afficionado credententials: I never got this guy. People say he's some deal. To me he's this one hit wonder. How does that happen?
 
Actually, he never had a hit.  Yet, everyone knows his songs.  How 'bout that?
It's amazing what a few decades of singing and smoking will do to a voice. I love the tanned baritone of Cohen's voice of the new millenium, but he could almost pass for Donovan way back when this came out (roughly contemporaneously with Mr. Leach's golden era.)
I have one of the earliest vinyl records of the album this is on — Songs of ...   Great album.  Great song.
I haven't heard this song in at least 30 years. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Bill. Excellent.
This may be one of the most perfect of songs ever written and performed.

I like this song of his the best, really brings back memories of my teens. I bought this back when it first came out like 40 some years ago. He's a manic depressive that found a way to make money from it :) I always wondered how many people commited suicide listing to his early stuff.....
One of the most poignantly poetic songs of the last 50 years, sung by a man with a voice that is deliciously sublime.
we used to call him "depresso- cohen." if you ask me, a guy who really should have left other people to sing his songs. he himself just drags me down.
 lawman wrote:

(Yes.)

Blimey: Leonard did sound like a young man, once!
By the way I thought this was the very wonderful Ray LaMontaigne when the guitar intro started: it's the same phrase, isn't it, as one of his?
 
I saw Leonard last year and i thought he sounded amazing as an old man.  His music, his poetry, his writings....I have to say I am quite enamoured with Leonard Cohen.  Very interesting person.
Always loved this,Suzanne was the name of my big love 1968!   {#Hearteyes}


annersjen wrote:
One of the most beautiful songs in the history of song. It gets me every time {#Hearteyes}

(Yes.)

Blimey: Leonard did sound like a young man, once!
By the way I thought this was the very wonderful Ray LaMontaigne when the guitar intro started: it's the same phrase, isn't it, as one of his?

This and Blue Raincoat — perfection
 Xeric wrote:
Great tune. As is, I think, R.E.M.'s "Hope," the song on Up that uses this melody. Then again, I think there are several very strong songs on Up, so what do I know. Except I know I love most of Cohen's work, sung by him himself and all.
 

I'd never heard this before, but I too recognized the REM connection right away.  This is nice.  
Ahhh takes me back to 1975 and a girlfriend called caroline (who I think would now be called 'emo') and her love of Leonard Cohen.  As she was happy to listen to him as we got slightly intimate, I was more than happy to listen to him..... this song just makes me think of after school afternoons, soft sweaters and girlish perfume.
One of the most beautiful songs in the history of song. It gets me every time {#Hearteyes}

 

My first contact with the work of this talent author, singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist, was when hearing the "Suzanne" song that it is part of the first album on studio called "Songs of Leonard Cohen", published in1968 (Cohen had 34 years); since i followed always its work there, and proves today that Cohen was very successful in world music; with all the merit! (in this days have 74 years, on last September 21); Congratulations Mr. Cohen!

** 8 / 9 **

p.s. - and Mr. Leonard Cohen, by the way , who is the Suzanne...?lol




my try at a non-banal comment on this song: Despite sounding misleadingly simple, it defies definition. It is certainly not "folk", if Dylan is folk, then this fits into an entirely different genre ... but which one? Religious music? "Modern chamber music"? But it makes sense, I think - some masterpieces show you how good other similar works of art could have been, had they been deeper, more ambitious ... Others show you how differently you have to do things in order to reach certain depths. This song certainly fits in the latter category ...
I guess I get a failing grade in my pop afficionado credententials: I never got this guy. People say he's some deal. To me he's this one hit wonder. How does that happen?
I was listening to this thinking-good song, weak vocals. Actually the vocals are good for Leonard. He gets a pass.
Funny - I grew up with the Joan Baez version. Creepy, but not in the fun way. :(
jagdriver wrote:
This song blows. The only thing worse is any Judy Collins version of a LC song. WAY too sappy for RP!
+1 Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
pdhski wrote:
Dear Leonard, Keep writing. PLEASE stop singing. Thank you.
:lol:
A great original. And its best when Leonard sings it.
:sunny:
This song is so beautiful, and Cohen's imagery is superb. 8.
Ahhhh... long time! One I thought I'd probably never hear again
Still a great one.
beautiful
Dietrich wrote:
Roberta Flack also does a nice version of this song... I love them all that must say something about the songwriting :) (or at least something about my taste)
So does Fairport Convention.
Gregorama wrote:
He had a lot less character in his voice that long ago...
I was going to say that he sounded much better that long ago. To each, their own, I guess...
ok yeah. . . I don't really listen to Cohen, but this is a great song.
Come on, Bill, 2 Leonard Cohen songs in several hours is tough to take!! EDIT: Ok, upon checking the playlist, I must admit that the last Leonard Cohen song was played almost 7 hours ago. I guess I am overreacting!! I really have been listening a long time today!!!
He had a lot less character in his voice that long ago...
Roberta Flack also does a nice version of this song... I love them all that must say something about the songwriting :) (or at least something about my taste)
stationarynomad wrote:
Breaking through the barren mental landscape of working in front of a computer on a sunny autumn day, this song brought such strong feelings that I put my head down on my desk and cried. And I mean that as the highest possible compliment... keep the Cohen coming.
Beautiful.....Thank you. This was my first introduction to Leonard Cohen back in my wee Puberty years in London :notworthy:
Thanks for taking me all the way back to college1
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. The only thing better than Judy Collins' version. Or maybe, make that equal to. :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy:
Okay, I'm starting to understand the Cohen's-a-great-songwriter-but-others-should-do-the-singing comments Isee when he pops up here. Neil Diamond's (yes, Neil Diamond--he was cool once) version of this song is much better. MT
colt4x5 wrote:
a sophisticated taste, like good scotch. you disbelievers are entitled to prefer your miller lite.
Love this quote. I was speaking earlier today, during Dylan, about how music and poetry are a great mix but bad music doesn't save brilliant poetry, just as pedestrian lyrics sour the taste of amazing-sounding (or amazing-produced) music. Leonard does both very very well, and I enjoy him much more than Dylan, but neither as well as the Beatles.
Great tune. As is, I think, R.E.M.'s "Hope," the song on Up that uses this melody. Then again, I think there are several very strong songs on Up, so what do I know. Except I know I love most of Cohen's work, sung by him himself and all.
jadewahoo wrote:
Leonard Cohen IS God. 'Suzanne' explains why LC/God is so disturbed and psychotic. Any song that can help us understand our deeply hurt/sadly sweet nature is deserving of consideration. This song does so exquisitely!
Interesting take. I read through the comments here and there are several that are similarly moving, and you don't see much of that normally among the RP song comments. And I think that says something about Leonard Cohen.
Leonard Cohen IS God. 'Suzanne' explains why LC/God is so disturbed and psychotic. Any song that can help us understand our deeply hurt/sadly sweet nature is deserving of consideration. This song does so exquisitely!
a sophisticated taste, like good scotch. you disbelievers are entitled to prefer your miller lite.
Really really reall..........zzzzzz. boring. :yawn:
Breaking through the barren mental landscape of working in front of a computer on a sunny autumn day, this song brought such strong feelings that I put my head down on my desk and cried. And I mean that as the highest possible compliment... keep the Cohen coming.
Not one of his best. Fortunately nobody in the office heard that
Never understood the appeal of Cohen...guess you had to be there...
Dear Leonard, Keep writing. PLEASE stop singing. Thank you.
samiyam wrote:
One of those songs which make you happy and want to cry at the same time. Thanks BillG for reminding me of the beauty of this song!!
Ditto, ditto......
One of those songs which make you happy and want to cry at the same time. Thanks BillG for reminding me of the beauty of this song!!
This song blows. The only thing worse is any Judy Collins version of a LC song. WAY too sappy for RP!
faramir wrote:
That makes three of us right or crazy. That's very disappointing, as an REM fan...
I posted this over in the Peter Gabriel cover:
Just a question: How come the REM song Hope (from Up) doesn't have Leornard Cohen listed as a cowriter? That song is an obvious borrowing of this song...
Guess I too am crazy.
ahhh, like silk to my soul. It's even a rainy day here which makes this all the more perfect. When I was in high school, this cd used to play endlessly in my room. My friend confessed once that she went in to look for something when I was gone, heard this cd playing, and just laid down on my bed and fell in love with Leonard Cohen.
aimless wrote:
Well, at least those REM thieves credit him in the liner notes.
Oh, well then, that's a different story. Thanks for pointing that out! Didn't even occur to me to go check the liner notes.Especially with REM who put so little of 'note' in the liner notes. Purposefull and acknowledged allusion can occasionally be interesting and artistically acceptable. At least to me.
An old favorite! Thanks! I haven't heard this in many many moons... maybe more than 25 years...
Well, that makes me happier! I came to check the comment, because its taken me nearly twenty minutes to remember what this was reminding me of. Think theres anything on the UP CD sleave about Mr Cohen's effort? I'd check myself, but my cds are at home and im at university :S (thanks to RP for keeping me sane. Well, at least when the network is up..) Now I think I'll find that vinyl of Chelsea Hotel #2.. D'oh! That'll teach me to not read all of the comments properly!
faramir wrote:
That makes three of us right or crazy. That's very disappointing, as an REM fan...
Well, at least those REM thieves credit him in the liner notes.
There's something about this track that rubs me up the wrong way :(
MrSpaz wrote:
No, you're not crazy. It has to be. Either that or we're both crazy. ;)
That makes three of us right or crazy. That's very disappointing, as an REM fan...
wossName wrote:
Is it me, or is R.E.M.'s "Hope" (on "Up") a copy of this with different lyrics ?
No, you're not crazy. It has to be. Either that or we're both crazy. ;)
Is it me, or is R.E.M.'s "Hope" (on "Up") a copy of this with different lyrics ?
Bill could make a theme with this song, Suzanne Is Perfect, and Lou Reed's "I Love You Suzanne." There's probably more than that, even. Incidentally, this is my FAVORITE Cohen song.