Leonard Cohen As Model Mandarin Orange Marketer

orangesA few months after publishing Cohensubstantiation – Commonplace Tea Becomes Sacramental Repast In Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, I came across this post from a marketing blog which also focused on Leonard Cohen’s transformation of the Constant Comment tea Suzanne served him into “tea and oranges all the way from China.” In this case, the author was moved to present the Canadian singer-songwriter’s classic song as a model for storytelling in advertising.

The following is excerpted from Storytelling 2.0: Think Leonard Cohen by Alice Germanetti (Content Market Insider: Oct 25, 2013)

47 years ago, Leonard Cohen wrote “Suzanne,” a song about an engaging young woman who “feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China.” In those few words he painted a picture of an exotic, mysterious, romantic and desirable creature, just by having her serve him a light snack.

Every woman I knew went out and bought a can of those sweet little Geisha oranges. And you had to really look for them, too. I bought several. Along with a flowery blue kimono. I was, after all, an Italian girl from New Jersey…

Every few months I bought a fresh can. After my 11th can in two years, I assumed Leonard was in on the deal. He had singlehandedly created awareness and desire for those little oranges in our culture. He was responsible for putting Mandarin oranges on the map and in the Mayfair Market. He had to be getting a cut…

Decades later, I heard LC interviewed about “Suzanne.” He said she was a rare beauty who served him Constant Comment Tea. My heart sank. My mother drank Constant Comment. It wasn’t from China. It wasn’t exotic. It wasn’t the tea AND oranges I pictured, it was a tea bag WITH slivers of dried up orange rinds…

But I thank you, Leonard, for giving me 40 years of believing I could be somewhat magical and mysterious and exotic. And I sincerely hope the world appreciates what you did for the marketing of Mandarin oranges.

For more about Leonard Cohen changing Constant Comment from grocery to sacrament, see Cohensubstantiation – Commonplace Tea Becomes Sacramental Repast In Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne

Note: Originally posted October 25, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Animation: Leonard Cohen adds a little more tequila to his Red Needle cocktail & a little more & …


Source video: Talkshowet – Leonard Cohen. (S2E5 – Denmark: Dec 5, 1992)

For the Red Needle recipe, see Leonard Cohen on the preparation of his Red Needle cocktail & its effect on recording sessions

View more animated gifs at Leonard Cohen Animations

Leonard Cohen on the preparation of his Red Needle cocktail & its effect on recording sessions

I prepared a lot of Red Needles. That’s a cocktail I invented in Needles, California, in 1976. It consists of tequila and cranberry juice and Sprite and fresh cut fruit. I prepared pitchers of this cocktail for the musicians and we couldn’t stop playing; most of the takes [of Always’ by Irving Berlin] are twenty-five minutes long, and we kept this one because it’s eight minutes long. I did fall down in it, that’s where the guitar solo occurs. It was a very exuberant, passionate evening, and several musicians told me it was the happiest time they ever spent in a recording studio.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen interview by Barbara Gowdy held on November 19, 1992 published in 1994 in the book “One on One: The Imprint Interviews” (edited by Leanna Crouch and published by Somerville House Publishing)

Cohensubstantiation – Commonplace Tea Becomes Sacramental Repast In Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne


And She Feeds You Constant Comment

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

Today’s post examines these two well-known lines from Leonard Cohen’s classic, Suzanne, to offer  insight into Cohen’s songwriting methodology,

Origin: In The Beginning …

Leonard Cohen’s songwriting process is an inversion of premise set forth in the opening verses of the Gospel of John.  John 1:1 begins

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

There follows an elaboration of the creation of all things by God through the Word. Then, verse 14 identifies this Word:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

The Cohen creation mythology, however, has the flesh becoming the Word. The content of Suzanne, like much of Cohen’s oeuvre, is grounded in the Canadian singer-songwriter’s personal experience, as Cohen himself points out in these two excerpts:

From a 1994 Leonard Cohen interview on BBC Radio:1

She [Suzanne Verdal]  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.

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  1. Transcript of BBC Radio 1 programme about Leonard Cohen, broadcast Sunday August 7, 1994, found at Speaking Cohen (no longer online)  []

If Leonard Cohen Were A Vegetable …

1024px-Vegetables_(4700705569)Note: The primary content below was originally posted Dec 13, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric. Republished with some updating.

The ominous title of this post notwithstanding, today’s topic has nothing to do with Leonard Cohen becoming comatose but refers instead to the existential task every Cohenite must inevitably undertake – answering the fundamental question

Which vegetable would Leonard Cohen be if Leonard Cohen were a vegetable?

The seminal essay addressing this issue, Is Leonard Cohen a Vegetable?,1 was published November 20, 2007 post at Let the Sky Rain Potatoes, a “blog about food” written by Shelly Blake-Plock,2

The author suggests first a radish, then a Savoy cabbage. A commenter makes the case for an acorn squash. I like the rationales provided although I never had much use for radishes, cabbages, or squash of any sort. (Anjani, by the way, is on record that he would be a cabbage, but more about that later.)

Interestingly, an article in the Food and Drink section of The Telegraph3 does provide a tentative answer to the converse of the which vegetable would Leonard Cohen be query:

Celeriac is the Leonard Cohen of the vegetable world; hoary skinned, wrinkled, uncompromising – and divisive.

Celeriac_J1As for myself, I’m thinking the Leonard Cohen-vegetable would have a bit of a mysterious, sinister shading yet be tasty and comforting.  And, of course, it would possess a certain phallic quality.  The eggplant4 comes to mind.  It’s a member of the nightshade family but also related to the nourishing potato and tasty tomato. In times past, eggplant was considered poisonous and was known as the “mala insane” (raging apple) because it was believed to cause insanity. And, it is so sexually potent a symbol that Instagram banned the eggplant emoji.


Note: One must take care not to confuse the question of which vegetable Leonard Cohen would be with the fact that Leonard Cohen was a vegetarian from 1965 to 1968.5

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post is by Biswarup Ganguly (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. The celeriac photo is by Jamain (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. The eggplant photo is by Horst Frank (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. On raising this query, the blogger, who appears to share my willingness to declare the obvious to eliminate misunderstandings, immediately goes on to respond, in reference to the subjunctively stated condition of Leonard Cohen being a vegetable, “which he is not.” []
  2. His description of himself opens with “Although Shelly Blake-Plock may be better known in some circles for his music and poetry, it is as a culinary experimentalist that those among his circle of close friends best know him.” []
  3. Ugly fruit and veg: why it’s time to celebrate the celeriac by Xanthe Clay. The Telegraph: Jan 14, 2015 []
  4. Yes, I know the eggplant is a fruit (a berry, in fact); I’m going with perceptions common to all humanity, not technicalities []
  5. Hallelujah: 70 Things About Leonard Cohen At 70 by Tim De Lisle. The Guardian (UK): September 27, 2004. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles []

Video: The Lorca & Bernadette Cooking Show With Guest Critics Leonard Cohen & Anjani

Lorca Cohen and her friend, Bernadette, prepare dishes for Leonard Cohen and Anjani, offering instructions and tips on the process. Food tasting and comments follow.  Worthy of special note are the portrait of Leonard Cohen’s father, Nathan, located over the stove and Mr Cohen’s perceptive remarks on the maturity of the Parmesan cheese.

Cooking Show “Cooking Period”
Uploaded Sept 6, 2006
Video by cocofidel

Note: Originally posted Dec 13, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric