Leonard Cohen - SUZANNE

First performance: 16/09/1967


Coverinfo

1967-09-16 - THE LEFT FOOT, FREEHOLD, NJ
 
The inspiration for covering Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” was probably the 1966 Judy Collins recording.  
 
Bruce covered the song with his early band ' the Castiles'. 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 Street. The club was opened by Reverend George Errickson and Reverend Fred Coleman, along with two High School students, Harold Breiner and William Cottrell. Patrons sat on cushions. Sadly The Left Foot had a short existence (seven months). This was the first of only two live appearances by The Castiles at the club - fortunately both appearances were audience recorded by Left Foot Manager (and St Peter’s priest) Fred Coleman on a good quality reel-to reel device. The-mentioned thirteen-song setlist represents The Castiles’ complete song performance in the correct sequence and they are all covers of other artists’ material. 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', 'See My Friends' and The Blues Project’s haunting 'Steve’s Song' (all handled by George Theiss). Tex Vinyard, The Castiles’ manager, is heard introducing the band at the start of the second set. Interestingly the group uses The Yardbirds' instrumental 'Jeff’s Boogie' twice, as both the first set closer and show closer. A recording of Wille Dixon's "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover" will be officially released on September 23, 2016 on Chapter & Verse, the companion album to Springsteen's autobiography Born To Run
 
 
  
 

Songinfo

"Suzanne" is a song written by Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen in the 1960s. First published as a poem in 1966, it was recorded as a song by Judy Collins in the same year, and Cohen performed it as his debut single, from his 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen. Many other artists have recorded versions, and it has become one of the most-covered songs in Cohen's catalogue. "Suzanne" was inspired by Cohen's platonic relationship with Suzanne Verdal, the then-girlfriend of sculptor Armand Vaillancourt. Its lyrics describe the rituals that they enjoyed when they met: Suzanne would invite Cohen to visit her apartment by the harbour in Montreal, where she would serve him Constant Comment tea, and they would walk around Old Montreal past the church of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, where sailors were blessed before heading out to sea. Verdal was interviewed by CBC News's The National in 2006 about the song. Verdal says that she and Cohen never had a sexual relationship, contrary to what some interpretations of the song suggest. Cohen stated in a 1994 BBC interview that he only imagined having sex with her, as there was neither the opportunity nor inclination to actually go through with it. She says she has met Cohen twice since the song's initial popularity; once after a concert Cohen performed in the 1970s and once in passing in the 1990s when she danced for him, but Cohen did not speak to her (and possibly did not recognise her). Verdal never benefited financially from the song's enormous commercial success. According to his on-stage comments, Cohen benefited only from his own performances, having signed away his rights to the song itself in a legal document deceptively presented to him which he did not read. Its lyrics first appeared as the poem "Suzanne Takes You Down" in Cohen's 1966 book of poetry Parasites of Heaven, admittedly because of lack of new material. Lyrics to a few other songs from his subsequent 1967 debut album were also printed in the book:
 
Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.
 
 
 

Other cover versions

 

Bruce on the artist

Lyrics

Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she's half crazy and that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that came all the way from China
And just when you want to tell her that you have no love to give her
She gets you on her wavelength and she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover

And you want to travel with her and you want to travel blind
And you think you maybe trust her 'cause she's touched your perfect body
With her mind

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men shall be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken long before the sky would open
Forsaken almost human he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

And you want to travel with her and you want to travel blind
And you think you maybe trust her 'cause she's touched your perfect body
With her mind

Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river
She's wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look amid the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they'll lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her mirror

And you want to travel with her and you want to travel blind
And you think you maybe trust her 'cause she's touched your perfect body
With her mind