Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Suzanne is a song written by Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen in the 1960s. It has become one of the most-covered songs in Cohen's catalogue. In 2006, Pitchfork Media listed the song #41 on their list of 'The Top Songs of the 1960s'.

Leonard Cohen specified, notably in a BBC interview, that the song was about encountering Suzanne Verdal, the then girlfriend of sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, in a Montreal setting. Indeed, many lines describe different elements of the city, including its river and a little chapel near the harbour, called Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, which sits on the side of the harbour that faces the rising sun in the morning, as it is described in the song.

Suzanne Verdal was interviewed by CBC News's The National in 2006 about the song. Verdal claims that she and Cohen never had sexual relations, contrary to what some interpretations of the song suggest. Cohen himself 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. Verdal never benefited financially from the song's enormous commercial success.

In any case, 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.