Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Leonard Cohen

Since my brother-in-law, Michael, posted the lyrics to Leonard Cohen's "Waiting for the Mircale" in a comment to my Top 100 Living Songwriters post yesterday, I wanted to talk about Cohen. He came in number six on the songwriter list I posted. Anyway, I figured a new post would be better than just doing my own long comment. I love the lyrics Mike posted. And, although I agree with Mike that his singing is not for everyone; I, for one, love his voice. I thought its tone was particularly haunting and perfect for the opening to NATURAL BORN KILLERS.

The first time I heard of Leonard Cohen was in 1988. I was at Orange Coast College, going to school during the day and they would frequently have bands playing out in the grass area. I stopped to watch this one guitarist and he did a song that just drew me in, totally capivated me. After his set I asked what that one song was and he said it was "Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen. I immediately went out and bought "The Best of Leonard Cohen" CD with that song on it. It remains my favorite Cohen song still. Here are the lyrics:


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.

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 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
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is 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
Among 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
And you know that you can trust her
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind.

--Leonard Cohen

I've been looking for that Best of Leonard Cohen CD and I cannot find it. I think I may have traded it in.

I don't know how many people have heard that there is a new documentary out in theaters right now about Cohen. It's called LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN and it's getting good reviews. It's got other good artists in it too like Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, and U2. I would love to catch it. Sadly, it's not playing within an hour of my house.

Thanks to Michael for getting me to think about Cohen's great lyrics. He is a true poet.

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Blogger Mike Pena said...

I have (or had) that same greatest off CD. I'll see if I can find it and let you borrow it if you don't have yours anymore. I should have added that his voice isn't for everyone but it IS for me, and his voice fits his songs perfectly. He had another song on the NBK soundtrack. I can recall the name, but it was on the end track with the repeating line "When they said, repenet, repent, I wonder what they meant" I think it was the "I have seen the future and it is murder" song. I dug that one too

1:02 AM  

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