On With The Show
Leonard Cohen’s concert in Lille, France generated outstanding photos, videos, and reviews. (Update: more videos & photos from this show are online at 2010 Leonard Cohen Lille Concert Redux – New Photos, Videos Plus “When Leonard Met Ruth”)
A Songwriter Of Supreme Elegance
Leonard Cohen was a featured attraction at the September 7, 1974 Parc de la Courneuve, Paris concert that was part of that year’s Fête de l’Humanité organized by Parti communiste français (French Communist Party). On that occasion, the Canadian singer-songwriter adapted the lyrics of Suzanne to
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from communist China.
Leonard Cohen – Suzanne (opening excerpt only)
Parc de la Courneuve, Paris: September 7, 1974
For more about Leonard Cohen’s derivation of tea and oranges that come all the way from China, see Cohensubstantiation – Commonplace Tea Becomes Sacramental Repast In Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne.
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.
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.
While I was aware that Bruce Springsteen had sung Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, it was not until Adrian du Plessis, Allison Crowe’s Personable Manager, directed my attention to a recording of this effort that I actually heard the cover and realized that the performance took place in 1967.
Springsteen’s band, The Castiles, played Suzanne as the penultimate song at The Left Foot in Freehold, NJ on Sept 16, 1967. The following information are from The Castiles… When the Boss was young…, posted June 29, 2009 at The Clock That Went Backwards Again (highlighting mine):
This was grand opening night at The Left Foot, an “over 13 under 18” club located in the recreation centre of St Peter’s Episcopal Church at 37 Throckmorton St. … All 13 songs are covers of other artists’ material, including The Blues Magoos’ “One By One” and Moby Grape’s “Omaha”. The inspiration for often-covered “Get Out Of My Life, Woman” was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band version. Similarly the inspiration for Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” was the 1966 Judy Collins recording. Although Springsteen may have started out in mid 1965 singing mostly background vocals, it is clear that by this point Bruce is the band’s focal point. Bruce handles the lead vocals on all songs except “Eleanor Rigby”, The Kinks “See My Friends” and The Blues Project’s haunting “Steve’s Song” (all handled by George Theiss).
02 See My Friend
03 Catch The Wind
05 Steve’s Song
06 Jeff’s Boogie
01 Purple Haze
02 Get Off My Live, Woman
03 Hold On, I’m Coming
04 You Can’t Judge A Book By Looking At It’s Cover
05 Elenor Rigby
07 Jeff’s Boogie
Video: Bruce Springsteen (The Castiles) – Suzanne
Freehold NJ: Sept 16, 1967
Video from 2010dreamon
Credit Due Department: Photo by Bill Ebbesen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
Note: Originally posted Mar 10, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Perhaps your most famous line is, “For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind” from “Suzanne.” Is it special to you?
People have quoted that a lot. It’s one of those lines where you either say, ‘Yeah, that’s the way it is,’ or you puke.
From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview).
Leonard Cohen continues to show me the power of poetry everyday, even after his passing. I feel like many songs in many different genres don’t have the lyrical substance that Leonard provides. As a songwriter, lyrics are just as important to me as the music. Its good to know that Cohen’s poetry will continue to outlast generations; it gives me hope for the future of song.