Suzanne

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 wanna 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
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

Now 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 will 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 him
And you want to travel blind
‘Cause you think maybe you can trust him
‘Cause he’s touched your perfect body with his mind

Now 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 harbor
And she shows you where to look
Between 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 will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror

And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
‘Cause you think maybe you can trust her
She’s touched your perfect body with her mind

Written by Leonard Cohen, covered by Nina Simone


I discovered Nina Simone’s cover of this 1960’s classic recently, while painting a portrait of her. Wow… wow. Every single phrase touches me. And the genius of Nina’s cover has been too much for me to handle without crying… I mean it! It just touched me so deeply at the right time in my life, as if one of the gods dropped it in my ears at the moment it could reach me the deepest.

Had to share.

One Comment

  1. Wow…wow from me too on this post. Why? Because I wanted to put part of the first verse on my Dad’s gravestone, but his then wife, Sandy, said we couldn’t afford it. The stone was to read: “Take me to my island home, where the sun pours down and sadness never comes. Take me to a place by the river where you can hear the boats go by and you can spend the night forever.” I made up the first sentence, which is on his gravestone. I guess I would have been guilty of plagiarism, had we gone ahead with the second part. It’s a beautiful, clever song.  As you know, when my Dad died, I was only 20 years old, and not fully aware of Leonard’s talents. This simply made me think of my Dad’s beloved St. Mary’s River, him being born and raised on two of the islands, and the famous ore-boats cruising by endlessly. Cool..!! Love it. Also, the 40th anniversary of his death is on the 21st. Apropos for me in a whole different manner. Glad you were moved by Leonard in your own way.   So? You did not type the awesome note on my Grandpa’s typewriter? I’m still wondering. Liam, of course, has not responded. He’s OK, by the way. I confirmed this a week or so ago with his landlord, a friendly woman who says that each time she has encounter with Liam he is “always kind”.  Cheers and have a good evening! Love,Mom

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