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The Canadian songwriter Leonard Norman Cohen (born 1934) wrote his trademark song, "Suzanne," in the 1960s. It initially appeared as a poem, "Suzanne Takes You Down" in his book of poetry, Parasites of Heaven (1967); and he first recorded it on his 1968 album Songs of Leonard Cohen. Judy Collins actually recorded it before Cohen on her album My Life (1966).
Cohen claims to have based the poem on a meeting with Suzanne Verdal, the wife of Cohen's friend, the sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, in Montreal. She apparently took Cohen "down to her place near the river," where she served him "tea and oranges." Both Cohen and Verdal claim that the meeting was only a platonic one, and that though Cohen seems to have been mesmerized by the woman--"and you know that she's half crazy"--they did not engage in sexual relations. Cohen has stated that
... he only imagined having sex with her, as there was neither the opportunity nor inclination to actually go through with it...
and that only "he touched her perfect body with your (his) mind." There are allusions in the song to various locales around Montreal, including the Saint Lawrence River, which her home overlooked; and the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours ("Our Lady of Good Help," which he paraphrases with "our lady of the harbor"), where they watched the sun rise. The second verse concerns Jesus who, like Suzanne, "touched your perfect body with his mind." Cohen seems to
... intermingle or compare the experiences of sex and romantic attraction with those of a religious experience or revelation.
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