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10 peculiar folk themes from the 60s

When he delivers a song that later becomes popular, the singer-songwriter is just its creator and first performer. He has no control over how others will fix it and the song's later life is quite another story. The secondary fate experienced by each of the ten folk themes below is instructive in this regard:


  ..if pop music was a woman it could be Suzanne, because...

''.. 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 the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor
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 wil lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her 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..''

(excerpts from the song 'Suzanne', 1967 Leonard Cohen)



∙  1967  ∙  Suzanne, Leonard Cohen (LEONARD COHEN)

In the live performance featured in this music-video, the author speaks about how happy he feels to have lost the rights to this breathtaking song... And the clip's accompanying text provides insight into the inspiration behind the lyrics:

« Perhaps the most memorable song from Canadian poet/songwriter & performer Leonard Cohen. Cohen specified, notably in a BBC interview, that the song was about encountering Suzanne Verdal, the then wife of sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, in a Montreal setting. Indeed, many lines describe different elements of the city, including its river (the Saint Lawrence) and a little chapel near the harbour, called Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (literally Our Lady of Good Help), 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 (and possibly did not recognise her). 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. » (Jan Hammer, 2012)

Leonard Cohen's song "Suzanne" was first released in late 1966 on Judy Collins' fifth album "In my life", a circumstance both singers recounted in an interview in the 1980s.


∙ 1968  ∙  Graeme Allwright  ∙  1969  ∙  Nina Simone  ∙  1971  ∙  Neil Diamond  ∙  1972  ∙  Esther Ofarim  ∙  1973  ∙  Roberta Flack  ∙  1974  ∙  Fabrizio De André  ∙  1995  ∙  Herman Van Veen  ∙  Peter Gabriel  ∙  2008  ∙  Bashung  ∙  2012  ∙  Karen Zoid & Zolani Mahola  ∙