Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Suzanne takes you down

"And you know that she's half crazy,
but that's why you want to be there."

Suzanne ~ Leonard Cohen

Nearly everything I've ever written, be it a short story, or a novel in progress (one day I'll finish one of them, I am determined), has had a character inspired by one of Leonard Cohen's songs. He is a muse of mine, and I do not remember a time in my life that I was not touched in some way by his music.

I still remember the first Cohen song I heard, where I was, and how it affected me. My Mother had one of his albums leaned up against these giant speakers. The stereo system was one of those impressive and dinosaur-sized 70's get-ups that took over one entire wall of our living room, and I loved it. I would drag my books or sheets of paper out into that front room, and set myself down in the corner closest to the music, and lose an entire afternoon in music.

It was a warm day, possibly late Spring, and my Mother was busy cooking something in the kitchen. I can recall the smells of the kitchen wafting into the room, and Fleetwood Mac's Rumors album had just finished. She yelled out to me to put something else on, and Leonard's album was right there in arm's reach.

I actually knew this song from Judy Collins' In My Life album, she was a favourite of my Mother's. The song Suzanne was actually a poem first, called "Suzanne Takes You Down", published in Cohen's book of poetry, 'Parasites of Heaven'. It is second only to "Hallelujah", as Cohen's most covered song.

I think what I love most about his songs, and his poetry, is how he captures such stories and characters - what life he gives them, and the plots that just build from each lyrical refrain, and melodic arc.

I think he will always be one of my muses.

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