“There’s the Sailors’ Church, that’s a Montreal feeling, a Montreal landscape, and when I got the fact that it was [Suzanne] who brought me down there, I was able to find a spine for the song.” Leonard Cohen

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Much of the song [Suzanne] had been written, but the focus was missing until Suzanne brought me to this warehouse where she was living, then a lot of the imagery came together. I found a focus for it because I love that part of the city. There’s the Sailors’ Church, that’s a Montreal feeling, a Montreal landscape, and when I got the fact that it was she who brought me down there, I was able to find a spine for the song. Then the second verse — ‘Jesus was a sailor’ — people feel Montreal is the Jerusalem of the north. People who were brought up there have this sense of a holy city, a city that means a lot to us. So, I was able to find a place for that second verse between those two verses about Suzanne and to give it that religious quality that the song has, which is the quality of Montreal.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From The Stranger Music of Leonard Cohen by William Ruhlmann. Goldmine: Feb 19, 1993.

Credit Due Department: Photo of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, known as the Sailors’ Church, by Sally Hunter.

One Reply to ““There’s the Sailors’ Church, that’s a Montreal feeling, a Montreal landscape, and when I got the fact that it was [Suzanne] who brought me down there, I was able to find a spine for the song.” Leonard Cohen”

  1. Peter Krijgsman

    This morning, on the Cohencentric blog, a piece about Montreal and the song Suzanne. Yesterday a radio programme featuring an Irish man who had forged a life for himself in Australia but found he had to return to Ireland, for his health, for which I read depression. Leonard Cohen notes people calling Montreal the Jerusalem of the north, and I remember the million candlelights in the Oratory, the summit, the feeling of recognition and rightness on returning, first in 1975, then in 1999, then in 2015. It still calls me home.

    The snow is falling again today. The air is almost solid with it. It has leached all colour from the visible landscape and turned the world into shades of sepia. Birds quarrel with each other over the columns of suet and seed that we have hung out for them down by the pond on which, unusually, a pair of wild mallards have settled. I feel like a character in a painting by Breughel as I carry a basket filled with firewood from the far loosebox – the one I repaired with the help of Brian Priest almost 20 years ago. It seems like last year.

    Maybe it is the snow that reminds me of Montreal: that night before we left, February 10, 1965, I watched it from one of the front bedrooms in our house – 333 Brock Avenue North. A streetlight picked out the individual flakes like the leading sad notes in a melody, hanging for a moment like a tiny life before being swept away by blizzard.