Saturday, March 21, 2015

Neil Diamond "Suzanne #MUSICVIDEO #DianaMarySharpton #UR #TheLovOfMyLife #Opinion

"A Gift for Suzanne"
Diana Mary Sharpton Photography © 2015 all rights reserved


“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.” 
~ George Bernard Shaw

I heard a song among many on this morning’s drive to Hillsboro, Texas and the words impressed me so much, it is my post for this evening. It is sung by the amazing Neil Diamond and titled “Suzanne(2). Oddly enough it was a cold misty sort of morning with low lying fog. In my opinion, the song speaks to a paradox that exists between love and friendship. It is my humble opinion, unlike most people, I believe that one must have both (i.e., love and friendship) to truly love someone unconditionally, without pause.

I was fascinated by the lyrics and have added some history "Behind the Song" (3) by David Freeland

Written by Leonard Cohen

Once created, a great song can exist independently of its creators, taking on a life of its own as it rises to iconic status within the cultural landscape. Such is the case with “Suzanne,” the haunting composition that has become one of Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen’s best-known works. A look into “Suzannes”’s history reveals how, in the making of art, the real people who serve as inspiration, unfortunately, though perhaps inevitably, get left behind.

Leonard Cohen was already well-known by the time of the song’s ascendance, but not as a performer. Born to a Jewish family in Montreal in 1934, Cohen published his first book of poetry at the age of 22. His experimental novel, Beautiful Losers (which one critic described as “the most revolting book ever written in Canada”), was published in 1966 and soon gained a reputation as a benchmark of countercultural expression. According to writer Judith Skelton Grant, who published an article on Cohen in the journal Studies in Canadian Literature, “Suzanne” began life as a poem. It was given substantial revisions by the time of its first presentation as a song, by Judy Collins on her 1966 album, In My Life. Since then it has been recorded by dozens of artists, becoming as much of a 1960s standard as “Respect” or “Yesterday”—a masterwork that defines one era and continues to inspire our own.

Artistically, the song’s brilliance lies in its pairing of a spare, hypnotic melody with evocative lyrics: “Now Suzanne takes you down/To her place near the river/You can hear the boats go by/You can spend the night beside her/And you know she’s half crazy.” In Cohen’s version, first recorded on his 1968 album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, the mood is underscored by a lilting female chorus and Cohen’s own subtle, insistent guitar playing. Cohen delineates his enigmatic title figure, who wears “rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters,” so sharply that we seem to know everything we need to about her. Within the context of the song, she is a complete and satisfying creation. Still, the question demands asking: Is there any benefit, for us as listeners, in knowing something about the “real” Suzanne?

As has been explained by a number of music scholars, “Suzanne” is Suzanne Verdal, the beautiful, free-spirited wife of an artist Cohen knew in Montreal during the early 1960s, a time when that city was an epicenter of bohemian culture in North America. Like the song’s character, Verdal did indeed feed Cohen “oranges that come all the way from China”; together, the pair savored the dazzlingly beautiful view, offered by Verdal’s waterfront apartment, of the St. Lawrence River. Other details proffered within the song speak to a romantic longing that, seemingly, remained unfulfilled: “And you want to travel with her/and you want to travel blind… for you’ve touched her perfect body/with your mind.”

“I was the one that put the boundaries on that,” Verdal told CBC reporter Paul Kennedy in 2006, adding, “Somehow, I didn’t want to spoil that preciousness, that infinite respect that I had for him… I felt that a sexual encounter might demean it somehow.” The hunger two gifted and beautiful people have for one another illuminates the lyrics, giving them a spark that seems to resonate from the inside. On a human level, the song is about the mysterious forces that bring people together and, then, just as inexplicably, move them apart. Undoubtedly, “Suzanne,” as a work of art, must be taken on its own terms, but Verdal’s own story demands attention as well; it is, in effect, the story behind the story, the real-life experience that can be found, if we are willing to peel back the song’s layers. Retaining her bohemian identity, Verdal went on to travel the world, going from Montreal to France to Texas, and, finally, by the early 1990s, to Los Angeles, where she worked as a choreographer. A nasty fall and subsequent injury ended her career as a dancer; by the time of the CBC interview, Verdal was living in a converted truck in Venice Beach, California. Photographs reveal her as older, but beautiful, still dressed in the kinds of “rags…from Salvation Army counters” that, long ago, she began transforming into a personal fashion statement.

“You know,” she said, “what’s kind of bittersweet and poignant is I came here with high goals and I didn’t achieve much of those goals.” Perhaps, because it has survived so fully—as a lasting, unimpeachable entity—“Suzanne” can be appreciated as a statement of human frailty as moving as any song ever written. It represents a special moment in time, created by two people whose mutual attraction was not fulfilled in a physical sense, but in an emotional, and, perhaps, deeper, way. The human figures who gave birth to that moment have moved on, underscoring how the artistic works we create will, if they are to enjoy a deep and long-lasting appreciation, outlive us. Unlike people, great songs do not age.

The Lyrics have been added for your continued reading pleasure.

"Suzanne" (4)
 Suzanne takes you down
To her place by the river
 You can hear the boats go by
 You can spend the night forever

 And you know the girl's half crazy
 And 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 want to tell her
 That you have no love to give her
 She gets you on her wavelength
 And lets the river answer

 That you've always been her lover
 And Jesus was a sailor
 When he walked upon the water
 And he spent a long time watching

 From the lonely wooden tower
 And when he knew for certain
 Only drowning men could see him
 He said "All men are sailors then

 Until the sea shall free them"
 But he himself was broken
 Long before the sky would open
 Forsaken, almost human

He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think that you may trust him

For he's touched your perfect body
With his mind.
Suzanne takes you down
To her place by the river

You can hear the boats that go by
You can spend the night forever
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbor

And she shows you where to look
Amid 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 will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her mirror 

This Rock and Roll video was published on Jan 29, 2014 by FONDSince1971. Remember music is a language and these are my thoughts tonight...

I hope you like this selection and have a blessed evening or morning. Thank you for your continued support.

Peace and Love always 

Diana Mary Sharpton

1. Photography:  "A Gift for Suzanne " Diana Mary Sharpton Photography © 2015 all rights reserved
2. Video: Neil Diamond ~ Suzanne

3. "Behind the Song" by David Freeland:
4. Lyrics:

No comments:

Post a Comment