Leonard Cohen 101: Suzanne Identification Guide – Suzanne Elrod, Suzanne Verdal, & Suzanne Vega

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Suzanne Elrod

Atop this post is a photo of Suzanne Elrod, the companion of Leonard Cohen in the 1970s and the mother of his children, Lorca and Adam Cohen. (She and Leonard were never married although he did occasionally refer to her as his wife.) Elrod shot the cover photograph of Cohen’s Live Songs album (under the name “Valentina) and is pictured on the cover of the Death of a Ladies’ Man album. More information about the relationship between Leonard Cohen and Suzanne Elrod, including her role in “My Gypsy Wife,” can be found at Cohencentric: Suzanne Elrod.

Suzanne Elrod is not the subject of Leonard Cohen’s song, “Suzanne.” That erroneous presumption, however, is so common enough that Leonard developed an explanation, which Adam has co-opted in this instance:

Q: Is your mom Suzanne, the same Suzanne from the song?

Adam Cohen: My father actually wrote the song before meeting my mother, but says he wrote it to summon her.1

Suzanne Verdal

Leonard Cohen wrote “Suzanne” about Suzanne Verdal, who was then the wife of Cohen’s friend, sculptor Armand Vaillancourt and who actually took Leonard “down to her place near the river” where she fed him tea and oranges. Leonard’s reflections writing the song and on Suzanne Verdal herself and Suzanne Verdal’s own account of the events can be found at Cohencentric: Suzanne Verdal.

Suzanne Vega

707px-Suzanne_Vega_mit_GitarreSuzanne Vega is a singer-songwriter who has long admired Leonard Cohen and has worked with and opened shows for him. More about her connection with Leonard can be found at Cohencentric: Suzanne Vega.

Suzanne Vega photo by Richard Huber – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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  1. Adam Cohen charts his own path with homage to dad Leonard by Mike Benhaim. Toronto Metro: Oct 11 2012 []

An Eloquent Memorial: Leonard Cohen’s Empty Chair At His Los Angeles Home

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absent
You know my love goes with you as your love stays with me
It’s just the way it changes like the shoreline and the sea
But let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye

From Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
By Leonard Cohen

Photo by Richard Rayner

Guido Harari’s Photos Of Leonard Cohen Napping & Praying – Milan 1992

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15193487_10153928044526990_3690067699229127998_n Guido Harari’s unique photos of Leonard Cohen feature the Canadian singer-songwriter in poses and settings that are unusual and unexpected but somehow apt and relevant. The results are sometimes striking, sometimes amusing, and sometimes provocative, but always revealing.

The photo atop this post shows Mr Cohen in a prayerful posture before the same painting featured in the better known shot of him napping (shown below).

Milan, 1992. Guido Harari

And the bottom photo displays him again napping but in a different setting.

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Pete Purnell’s Photo Tribute To Leonard Cohen

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Pete Purnell, who has contributed many photos of Leonard Cohen (see Leonard Cohen In Concert 1974 To 1993: Photos By Pete Purnell), now submits this shot in appreciation of the Canadian singer-songwriter, along with these words:

This photo was taken on Friday 20th September 2013 in Amsterdam. It is the last moment of Leonard’s last concert in Europe and a few hours before his 79th birthday.

By this gesture he is saying, “Thank you friends for being here, it is deeply appreciated.” To me, his gesture reflects how we regard Leonard now. Thank you Leonard, thanks for being here, it is deeply appreciated.

“I never had a plan. I had a certain kind of faith…If the work was good enough or, more specifically, if the work was appropriate to move into the world, it would move into the world…” Leonard Cohen

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I’ve never had a strategy. To me it was perfectly natural that my work would penetrate and find an audience in the popular culture and I think you can approach it in any way you want. I think it’s important not to let it tyrannize you. I don’t think we’re completely creatures of that culture and neither are we creatures of our own personal culture. We’re continually moving back and forth between those two areas. I never had a strategy because I never felt alien from popular culture. You just set the thing up in the way you can handle it. I don’t have the kind of mind to do anything else. I think Irving Layton once described my mind as ‘unblemished by a single idea.’ I never had a plan. I had a certain kind of faith although. I would never have given that word to it. If the work was good enough or, more specifically, if the work was appropriate to move into the world, it would move into the world. There are certain kinds of work that stay with you. You don’t develop any kind of chip on your shoulder because that kind of work doesn’t move out or gain hundreds of admirers. I have a clear idea of the process, of a song say, in the popular realm. The world can use certain kinds of work at certain times and at certain times it can’t. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Leonard Cohen: Working for the World to Come. The interview (probably from 1982) was published in the book In Their Own Words: Interviews with fourteen Canadian writers, by Bruce Mayer and Brian O’Riordan, 1984. Found at LeonardCohenfiles. Originally posted December 17, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I like [Hallelujah]. I think it’s a good song, but I mean, I think too many people sing it … I think people have to stop singing it for a little while.” Leonard Cohen (2009)

Leonard Cohen Talks Women, Age And Hallelujah by Jian Ghomeshi (National Post: March 20, 2009). Originally posted March 22, 2009 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The simple fact of the matter is, I’m too old to die now. Hell, there just wouldn’t be any romance in it.” Leonard Cohen 1977

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Do you ever think about the fact that a lot of people who lived out there on the ledge with you have died, but somehow you came through it all on the right side?

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Sometimes I wonder if this is really the right side or not. But now I guess it just has to be. The simple fact of the matter is, I’m too old to die now. Hell, there just wouldn’t be any romance in it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Life On The Ledge With Leonard Cohen by Jon Marlowe. The Miami News: Nov 9, 1977. Photo Credit: Arnaud Maggs / Library and Archives Canada, archival reference number R7959-2044.  Originally posted Sep 5, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Roger Ebert Talks About How Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man Saved His Life

 

I was so sad to hear about Leonard Cohen’s death, but I am sure the Angels are singing “Hallelujah!” Roger and I were big fans of his poetic lyrics and his guttural voice. But one of our favorite songs, “I’m Your Man,” actually saved Roger’s life. As Roger says in the scene below from Steve James’s “Life Itself,” if he hadn’t been playing that song for the doctors and nurses on the day he was to be released from the hospital, we would have been driving home on Lake Shore Drive when he had his first catastrophic medical incident. So we always said, “Thank you Leonard Cohen.” Today, I say “Thank you Leonard Cohen for the grace you brought to this planet. May you rest in bliss.”

From The Song That Saved Roger: Memories of Leonard Cohen by Chaz Ebert (Chaz’s Journal: November 11, 2016). Photo by Sound OpinionsFlickr: Roger Ebert, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

“My plan was to make a record, make some money, and go back to writing. I had no idea I’d end up in hotel rooms for the rest of my life, banging my head against the carpet trying to find the right chord.” Leonard Cohen


Sincerely, L. Cohen by Brian Cullman (Details for Men, January, 1993). Originally posted Oct 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

When Sharon Robinson Returned To Leonard Cohen Tour – Auckland Oct 28, 2010

Yep, there’s Sharon Robinson (third angel from the right) back from sick leave after missing several shows and returning home to recuperate from an illness. This photo from the Oct 28, 2010 Leonard Cohen Auckland Concert was taken by Joey Carenza

Originally posted Oct 28, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“We think you are a god. The proposal of our 3way moves from impossible to improbable to remote possibility” Anjani To DrHGuy (2008)

The Cohencentric Farewell Tour: The impending termination of Cohencentric has triggered a search of the archives and the consequent discovery of some never-published entries, such as this one.

Ongoing readers may recall that back in 2006, DrHGuy first connected with Leonard Cohen via Anjani Thomas, Leonard’s backup singer and his forefront sweetie. This process featured DrHGuy proposing a threesome/foursome to Anjani (a Leonard-free threesome/foursome, by the way).

Ah, it’s the age-old story … Boy (that would be me) finds girl (Anjani) via composing a review of girl’s album (Blue Alert). Boy, coming across a comparison of girl to Holly Cole and Tanita Tikaram, makes the obvious move, interjecting into the review the suggestion for a four-way comprising him and the three female vocalists. Girl leaves a positive comment on the post, thanking boy for the positive review. Boy publishes next post interpreting girl’s comment as an indication that girl is torn between running to him and staying with her boyfriend – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lenny Kravitz, Leonard Bernstein … Lennie somebody, Negotiations ensue re four-way Vs three-way and consequent permutations of participants.  Eventually, however, girl sends a Dear John letter (technically, a Dear DrHGuy letter), and it’s splitsville (aka boy loses girl). Boy gets autographed Blue Alert album from girl and autographed poetry volume from boyfriend/poet/singer-songwriter/icon as consolation prize.

Happens every day.

But, there’s another chapter to the story, offering a flicker of hope for the afore referenced liaison. Two years after Anjani inexplicably turned down the hookup, a period during which DrHGuy was, despite the rejection, posting intermittently about her and Leonard, she sent an email about those online efforts:

we think you are a god.
the proposal of our 3way moves from impossible to improbable to remote possibility

The boost to DrHGuy’s morale notwithstanding, he had the fortitude to reply

Jeeze – qualifying as a god only earns the “remote possibility” of a threeway. Who does a guy have to sleep with to – well,  sleep with two more?

Just another day in the life of the premier Leonard Cohen blogger.