Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thursday Lyric: Suzanne

This is a very sweet song with a deeply bitter undercurrent.

I grew up with the Judy Collins version of this song; in fact, it's playing on my computer now. Curiously, now that I look at the original lyrics, I find that she's altered them just a bit. If you want the history of the song (and I lived without it this long, so I think you can too, if you try), there's a fascinating interview with Suzanne herself here.

by Leonard Cohen

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.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Hey, that was a neat interview. You know, the whole time I heard that song, it never occurred to me that it was about a real person, though in hindsight there's no reason why not.
Thanks for finding it!