Hear Leonard Cohen Sing About Tea & Oranges That Come From Communist China

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.

Also see Video: Leonard Cohen’s Only Performance Of “Beloved Comrade”At Fête de l’Humanité Show – Paris 1974.

“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


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.

Hear Bruce Springsteen & The Castiles Cover Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne – 1967

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).

1st Set
01 Fire
02 See My Friend
03 Catch The Wind
04 Omaha
05 Steve’s Song
06 Jeff’s Boogie

2nd Set
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
06 Suzanne
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

Leonard Cohen Lists Possible Responses To “For You’ve Touched Her Perfect Body With Your Mind:” “You say ‘Yeah, that’s the way it is,’ or you puke.”

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.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview).

Video – Leonard Cohen In The Movies: “Suzanne” & “So Long, Marianne” in Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana (mirages) is an experimental film by Werner Herzog shot in the Sahara Desert.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne & So Long, Marianne
Fata Morgana
Suzanne begins at 1:35
So Long, Marianne becomes apparent at 7:10

Note: Originally posted Oct 23, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Exquisite Video: Julia Camayd Performs Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne Amid Scenes Of Old Montreal

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.quotedown2

Julia Camayd

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

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

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


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


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