Among the most beautiful songs ever written

>> Monday, March 07, 2011

Leonard Cohen, "Suzanne":




And some things are just objectively true, I'm sorry. This isn't a song you can say is bad, though I guess you could try to say you don't like it, in which case, again sorry, you're wrong, either in the sense of being incorrect or the sense of if you truly don't see why this is one of the most heartwrenchingly perfect songs ever written, there's something broken in you.

I would say that this isn't wholly the case, that it's a "man thing," except Joan Baez recorded as heartwrenchingly perfect a cover version of "Suzanne" as anyone ever has, back on her live album From Every Stage, and it's just as perfect as any version could be, because Leonard Cohen somehow wrote a perfect song that touches your perfect body with its perfect mind.

But as for the man thing: I think, I really think, that every man in his life has known a Suzanne at some point in his existence, a strange, inexplicable yet somehow comprehensible woman who is there in some essential, elemental way, the same essential, elemental way that gravity is, or light or mass or is-ness. I started writing some nonsense about her loving him at this point, but then I realized that's all wrong: it's not really in the nature of Suzannes to love any one man more than she loves all men, and if a man loves his Suzanne more than all other women, well... forgive him for that.

I know I have a number of female readers. I'm not sure they'll understand. Nor do I have any idea if there's some male-equivalent that they had in their lives, nor could I really understand if they did. Some things are mysteries, some yawning spaces cannot be gapped. That this might be terrible doesn't make it less true--some truths are terrible ones.

I couldn't explain any of this any better if I kept writing for millions more paragraphs.



2 comments:

Carol Elaine Monday, March 7, 2011 at 4:15:00 PM EST  

I pretty much adore Leonard Cohen and I do love this song, but I admit "Hallelujah" is probably my favorite of his. Especially, oddly enough, as sung by John Cale.

And I do understand what you're getting at. I've had the male equivalent of Suzanne in my life.

vince Monday, March 7, 2011 at 7:41:00 PM EST  

Cohen has written so many great songs that I'm hard-pressed to say which one I like best, much less which one is objectively his "best." But "Suzanne" ranks way up there.

I, too, have known a Suzanne, and am richer for it.

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