“Writing [Suzanne] was a sheer act of desperation — of a desperado” Leonard Cohen


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Had I not written ‘Suzanne’ presumably I would be broke and starving, as I was then. At thirty-two or thirty-four, whichever I was when I wrote it, I couldn’t pay my grocery bills, I couldn’t pay the rent, and I had a woman and child to support. Writing that song was a sheer act of desperation — of a desperado.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From “Yakety Yak” by Scott Cohen (1994). Originally posted Dec 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“If the thing is authentic you tune into it immediately. You embrace it immediately. It includes you.” Leonard Cohen On Instinctively Resonating With Songs

I used to listen to that song [Suzanne] all the time. I didn’t fathom it at all but you’re saying I understood it simply because I enjoyed it instinctively.

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Yes. If the thing is authentic you tune into it immediately. You embrace it immediately. It includes you. That’s what I mean to say. The song also includes you because it’s really authentic. Afterwards you can say why it included you, but that’s not so important.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Interview / Leonard Cohen By Alan Twigg. Essay Date: 1979, 1984, 1985. ABC Bookworld.

Leonard Cohen On The Role Poetry Played In Writing Suzanne: “that’s the method with which you can get the accuracy”

So where did the poetry come in [in writing Suzanne]?

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That’s my trade. That’s what I know how to do. And it’s not that I choose to do it but it seems that’s the method with which you can get the accuracy. Sometimes you hit it, all too rarely, but sometimes you hit it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Cohen Down The Road By Karl Dallas, Melody Maker, May 22, 1976. Found at Reality Now!

Note: Originally posted Jan 21, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“When you’re writing out of the total embrace of the experience of the emotion of the moment, what comes out … is really authentic” Leonard Cohen

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When an experience is embracing or total you don’t know who you are. When you jump into a pool of really cold water, when you hit that water there’s no you. [Interviewer: How often is your writing a dive into cold water?] From time to time. There is no explanation for it. It’s free from an explanation. It’s like explaining the kiss you give your wife. you can explain it from a sociological point of view, from an erotic point of view, from all kinds of points of view. but it really doesn’t have anything to do with that moment of the embrace. You can speak about it, but it’s just a kind of gossip. When you’re writing out of the total embrace of the experience of the emotion of the moment, what comes out of there is really authentic. People ask what does that song, ‘Suzanne,’ really mean? The people who lay back and are ravished by the song know exactly what it means.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Interview / Leonard Cohen By Alan Twigg. Essay Date: 1979, 1984, 1985. ABC Bookworld.

“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


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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

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


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[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