Friday, November 11, 2016

The Night I Met a Woman Who Said She Was Leonard Cohen's Suzanne

Leonard Cohen passed on a few days ago.  His songs, especially Suzanne, will live on forever.  Or as Shelley said about Keats (great poets, like Cohen, from a previous century), "tis death that's dead not he".

I once met a woman who said she was the Suzanne who had inspired Cohen's song.  Ed Fox and I met her in the lobby of that slightly seedy hotel - the Milburn - off Broadway and 76th Street, as we were on our way into Herb Abramson's A-1 Sound Studio, to record some tracks on our Twice Upon a Rhyme album.

That would have been in 1969, a few months after Cohen's "Suzanne" had been playing on the radio and in our heads.  Ed and I were standing in the hotel lobby, waiting for a moment for one of the musicians on our album to arrive.  A woman in her 20s struck up a conversation with us.  We told her we were making an album.  She asked what kind of songs.  We said, you know, the Beatles circa Rubber Soul, Dylan Blonde on Blonde, Bob Lind, Leonard Cohen ... those kinds of songs.

She smiled ... elusively.  And told us that she was Suzanne.   We of course knew what she meant and of course we didn't believe her - not at all, not at first.

But we ran into her in that lobby a few times in the succeeding weeks.   And she told us things - about her and Leonard, nothing we could confirm. certainly not in that age so long ago, long before Google.

But Ed and I believed her.  And I believe her to this very day.   Hey, Suzanne could still be alive ... somewhere ... maybe she's even reading this blog post, or will someday.

You did well, Suzanne.  You inspired one of the great, beautifully plaintiff, soul touching songs, as delicate as a leaf at the edge of a hurricane.

(Here's a BBC interview with Suzanne Verdal from 1998.)

Rest in peace, Leonard Cohen.

Ed Fox and Paul Levinson, not long after meeting Suzanne

I think we were singing this Bob Lind song as we were walking to the
Milburn that night - maybe that had something to do with it

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