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Suzanne - Leonard Cohen

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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 that 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 that 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
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 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 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 you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.

The song was begun, and the chord pattern was developed, before a woman’s name entered the song. And I knew it was a song about Montreal, it seemed to come out of that landscape that I loved very much in Montreal, which was the harbour, and the waterfront, and the sailors’ church there, called Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours ,which stood out over the river, and I knew that there were ships going by, I knew that there was a harbour, I knew that there was Our Lady of the Harbour, which was the Virgin on the church which stretched out her arms towards the seamen, and you can climb up to the tower and look out over the river, so the song came from that vision, from that view of the river.

At a certain point, I bumped into Suzanne Vaillancourt, who was the wife of a friend of mine; they were a stunning couple around Montreal at the time, physically stunning, both of them; a handsome man and woman; everyone was in love with Suzanne Vaillancourt, and every woman was in love with Armand Vaillancourt. But there was no... well, there was thought, but there was no possibility, one would not allow oneself to think of toiling at the seduction of Armand Vaillancourt’s wife. First of all he was a friend, and second of all as a couple they were inviolate, you just didn’t intrude into that kind of shared glory that they manifested.

I bumped into her one evening, and she invited me down to her place near the river. She had a loft, at a time when lofts were... the word wasn’t used. She had a space in a warehouse down there, and she invited me down, and I went with her, and she served me Constant Comment tea, which has little bits of oranges in it. And the boats were going by, and I touched her perfect body with my mind, because there was no other opportunity. There was no other way that you could touch her perfect body under those circumstances. So she provided the name in the song.

- Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen On Site

Leonard Cohen at Wiki

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Leonard Norman Cohen, born 1934, deceased 2016, is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963. His work often deals with the exploration of religion, isolation, sexuality and complex interpersonal relationships. Famously reclusive, spending years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, and possessing a persona frequently associated with mystique, he is extremely well-regarded by critics for his literary accomplishments and for producing an output of work of high artistic quality over a five-decade career.

Musically, Cohen’s earliest songs (many of which appeared on the 1967 album, Songs of Leonard Cohen) were rooted in European folk music. In the 1970s, his material encompassed pop, cabaret and world music. Since the 1980s his high baritone voice has evolved into lower registers (bass baritone and bass), with accompaniment from a wide variety of instruments and female backing singers.

Over 2,000 renditions of Cohen’s songs have been recorded. Cohen has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honour. While giving the speech at Cohen’s induction into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2008, Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the “highest and most influential echelon of songwriters”.

Leonard Cohen Prologues

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Hydra, October 1960: Cohen bought his home on the Aegean island in September 1960 for $1,500. Here he rides a donkey behind Marianne Ihlen, his first muse.
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Hydra, Greece October 1960: Leonard Cohen playing guitar next to partner Marriane Ihlen.
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California, 10 November 1995: Meditating at the Mount Baldy Zen centre. Cohen was ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk in 1996. “I am not a Buddhist, but a pseudo-Buddhist,” he said in 2001.
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Leeds, September 2013: On the European leg of a world tour of more than 70 dates. The three-hour sets won universal acclaim.
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Montreal, Autumn 1963: Cohen at work in his home town, with his debut novel, The Favourite Game, on the desk.
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Hamburg, 4 May 1970: Performing on stage with members of the audience at the Musikhalle.
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Israel, October 1973: When the Yom Kippur War broke out Cohen enlisted in the Israeli Entertainment Corp.
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Rhode island, 7 July 1967: Cohen met fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell at the Newport folk festival. They subsequently had an intense, year-long relationship.
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You go your way,
I’ll go your way too.






Until we recognize that the real peace is within, we are here but don’t know why. We have questions: “Why have I come here? What am I doing here? Am I doing it right? ” It’s like a driver who doesn’t know where he is going.

But you are the driver of this bus of life. You have been given the key, and you cannot give it to anyone else. You cannot even give one breath, one moment to anyone.

☆ Prem Rawat

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