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.

—————————————————-

Suzanne is the first track on Leonard Cohen’s 1967 debut album: Songs of Leonard Cohen. It was first published as a poem in Cohen’s 1966 collection “Parasites of Heaven”.

It was then first recorded by Judy Collins, also in 1966.

From the 1976 back cover of “Greatest Hits” (“some notes on the songs”):

I wrote this in 1966. Suzanne had a room on a waterfront street in the port of Montreal. Everything happened just as it was put down. She was the wife of a man I knew. Her hospitality was immaculate. Some months later I sang it to Judy Collins over the telephone. The publishing rights were pilfered in New York City but it is probably appropriate that I don’t own this song. Just the other day I heard some people singing it on a ship in the Caspian Sea.

One of Cohen’s most known songs, it has featured in many film soundtracks – among others Herzog’s Fata Morgana, Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and von Trier’s Breaking the Waves. It also appeared in Ken Kesey’s 1992 novel I Am a Hotel. There are multiple live versions in Cohen’s official discography, and both studio and live versions were released numerous times since 1967.

Tahsin Ünlü

View all posts

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 − one =

Categories

Facebook Page

Twitter Page