“I touched her [Suzanne’s] perfect body with my mind, because … there was no other way that you could touch her perfect body” Leonard Cohen on Suzanne


quoteup2
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 Secour, which stood out over the river, and I knew that there’re 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 [Verdal] 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.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

For Suzanne Verdal’s point of view about the song, see Video: Suzanne Verdal Talks About Leonard Cohen & The Song He Wrote About Her

From 1993 Interview On BBC Radio 1FM. Found in Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music… from Hank Snow to the Band by Jason Schneider ECW Press, Dec 15, 2010) Originally posted February 19, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Suzanne Verdal Talks About Leonard Cohen & The Song He Wrote About Her + 1960s Photo Of Suzanne

The video is an excerpt from the ARTE documentary “Girls in Pop Songs” shot in 2011.

Also see “I touched her [Suzanne’s] perfect body with my mind, because … there was no other way that you could touch her perfect body” Leonard Cohen on Suzanne

Suzanne Verdal in the time of Suzanne

While one can find several photos of Suzanne taken since 2000 (see three at Spoonfilm), shots of her in the 1960s are rare. And, of the half-dozen or so that I’ve come across, most of been removed from online viewing. The only exception I’ve discovered is a solitary dramatically posed photo from Suzanne: The Original Portfolio by Jeremy Taylor.

Best 2009 Leonard Cohen Istanbul Concert Videos: Suzanne & Chelsea Hotel #2

istanbul

Live From Istanbul

These videos from the August 6, 2009 Leonard Cohen Istanbul Concert are among the best from that performance.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Istanbul: August6, 2009
Video from halitkivanc

Leonard Cohen – Chelsea Hotel #2
Istanbul: August6, 2009
Video from halitkivanc

Note: Originally posted Oct 15, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“In this Leonard Cohen world right now, the song Suzanne really represents everything that is mysterious…about great Canadian songwriting” Rufus Wainwright on “the song that defines Canada”

 

Tell us about the song that defines Canada for you?

quoteup2
In this Leonard Cohen world right now, the song Suzanne really represents everything that is mysterious, shall we say, about great Canadian songwriting. I like it, because there’s an esoteric quality to it — where you don’t quite know what they’re singing about, or who it’s about, or where it takes place. It’s this kind of dreamlike quality. So I’d have to go with Suzanne, right now.quotedown2

Rufus Wainwright

 

From Q&A: Rufus Wainwright on his family, being a Montrealer and proud Canadian – CBC News: May 21, 2017.

Leonard Cohen on Suzanne: “She’s great but she’s half crazy …”


quoteup2
[The song] Suzanne is about a girl I know. She’s great but she’s half crazy. And the other week I was in New York or Los Angeles or somewhere and a guy came up to me and said he liked my song and that he’d lived with Suzanne for a while. And I asked him if he was still with her. And he said no he couldn’t stand it any more. The girl was half crazy.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen by Ray Connolly. Evening Standard, July 1968