posted on September 26, 2007 at 2:07 am

imagine all those lovely songs as yet unwritten
think of all the divine music you may never hear
what is a song?
how would you explain a song to an alien?
music n words that go hand in hand
is a bad song still a song?
yes, because people still like bad songs
what is a good song?
a song that is a spell
what is a spell?
to be able to influence people or events
as though you had power over them
what do good songs make you feel?
that youre not alone
what is a song that many people agree is a “good” song
suzanne by lenny cohen
discuss
“suzanne takes you down to her place near the river”
by starting with suzanne
the singer implies you already know suzanne
or have at least heard of her
by suzanne being the first word in the song
i am suddenly forced to throw together a rapid image
of her in my mind
yes, the song is called suzanne
but before hearing it
i expected that in the song somewhere
suzanne would be sung about
but i did not necessarily think
it was someone that i already must know
or would get to know
cohen almost sings of her
as if he is passing her on to me
and i already know a lot about her
and her place by the river
the water flows
its incessant journey
its swelling and its diminishing
an exotic place
i can see it
in british columbia or somewhere
its summer
i see the overgrown white apartment
suzanne has a balcony or deck
the trees rustle n move in the warm breezes
its bohemian but its still very upmarket sixties
“you can hear the boats go by
you can spend the night beside her”
notice cohen is saying “you”
not i did this or that
but you
its ambiguity is delightful
is it a prediction
a possibility
or just a manner of speech?
(ie:you can get to canberra in 2 hours these days….
you can buy tickets when you arrive )
and her place is right beside the river if you can hear the boats
and arent you n suzanne just ships in the night as well…
cohen knows you can spend the night beside her too
something in this implies
suzanne maybe a woman of some promiscuity
a free lovin’ hippy
if you want to spend the night beside her…
well you can
i’m also feeling a certain bitterness
cohen spent that night
n now its your turn
he was just another bloke
another notch on suzannes bedpost
“and you know that shes half crazy
but thats why you wanna be there”
ok now hes really casting aspersions
on her
himself
and you
the woman is a little unbalanced
cohen realised that himself
and it turned him on
and he also reckons itll turn “you ” on
this half mad free loving woman with her groovy pad
next to that lovely churning river
with its beautiful n mysterious boats
whose destinations are unknown to us
suzannes lunacy is attractive in some sick(ly) way
oh i guess weve all met people like that
but im starting to feel a bit nervous about her
like
am i just exploiting her madness?
am i too straight for her glorious insanity?
“she feeds ya tea n oranges that come all the way from china”
like shes hand feeding ya the oranges
popping those juicy segments into your mouth with her fingers
those expensive chinese oranges…they must costa fortune
and the sweet tea
the ceremony
the feeling of ritual in its preparation n serving
“and just when you mean to tell her
you got no love to give her”
oh oh youre backing out now
youre looking for an escape route
maybe suzanne is crazier or dirtier than you imagined
maybe you aint got love for her or anyone
you were just looking for a night in her bed
you dont want anything serious
now you had the night
the tea
the oranges
the half craziness
its enough
youre getting ready to say some stumbling excuse
when
“she gets you on her wavelength and lets the river answer
that youve always been her lover”
ok
suzanne totally outmanoevres you here
shes crazy and psychic
she saw your bullshit coming and shes cutting you short
she tunes right into your mind
wavelength…a particularly “sixties” word
a crazy hippy nympho term
man, suzannes got yer number tho
she anticipates you
and then
metaphysically
metaphorically
the river itself
her permanent companion n neighbour
the great flowing river that carries men hither n thither
the river who has seen the whole thing
the river who has flowed since time immemorial
who meanders over deltas
and rushes in the mountains
the river speaks for suzanne
the river answers your excuse
before you have even said it
and it says
in its watery tongue
which it insinuates in your mind somehow
youve always been her lover
as a thing which truly understands the word always
the river utters these winged words
always been her lover
you are more than a one night johnny, mister
youre connexion is so deep
ha you dont even realise
you never see the layers of reality
the deep implications
but suzanne has fucking shocked you
shes telepathic with a talking river
which is in cahoots with this…..witch
and the river says
man tho i am myself verily deep
druid you are in deep with ms suzanne
you and her go way back
you may have forgotten
but suzanne herself
remembering through her lives
and i
the eternal river
flowing since gods beginning
we have not forgotten
arent you in awe of this woman?
do you know what youve gotten yourself into?
this musta happened like this for lenny too
cos hes warning you in his weary voice
its a prediction, after all, isnt it
these things will happen to you
as they did to me
and presumably a whole host of men
connected to suzanne
as she gently manipulates them
for her own crazy (hmmm, is she really?) ends
“and you want to travel with her
and you want to travel blind
and she knows that she can trust you
cos youve touched her perfect body
with your mind”
now youre convinced
now you wanna know and go wherever she wants
travel
where to?
what kinda voyage would it be being blind?
or will you travel willy-nilly
with no care for arriving anywhere
and once again cohens slightly bitter accusation
(now in the past tense)
that youve touched her perfect body
(and who would know better than him how perfect)
but you touched it with your mind
but you touched it with your fingers too
lenny somehow implies
there was an exchange
a body for a mind
suzanne let you have her
cos youre vaguely interesting
although cohen and the river
see right through you

in the next verse
cohen introduces unexpectedly
like a bolt from the blue
the last person you expected to encounter
in this riverside sensual extrasensual weirdass song
it cant be….. its…
“jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
and he spent a longtime watching from his lonely wooden tower”
suddenly you feel guilty
you been making out with suzy n
having weird psychic conversations with rivers
and freely enjoying the permissive n groovy free love sixties
when jesus appears
christ, leonards jewish as well
so we picking up lots of things here
the song has exploded wide open
and jesus and the sea of galilee have come through
hang on though
how does lenny feel about jesus though?
the whole of this verse is rather fictional
jesus was a fisherman but not a sailor per se
which wooden tower was he watching from then?
a crows nest or turret aboard a biblical fishing boat 33 ad?
or a lighthouse?
or a fortress?
theres no wooden towers in the gospels i can think of
cohen seems vague on what jesus was purported or not to have done
“and when he was certain only drowning men could see him
he said all men shall be sailors then until the sky shall free them”
this isnt exactly what jesus said at all
but how many could tell you that
cohen sings with such sombre authority
you could believe its the gospel truth…geddit?
imagine those drowners as they go down
seeing the soles of his feet
as he carefully treads the waves
like a surfer with out a board
and suddenly seeing a chance yet at salvation
the drowners furtively pray to him
but jesus wants more than the desperates
he wants your heart before it is an emergency
come out of love
not out of fear
and why shall the sky free them
when the sea is the sailors element?
does he mean freed by heavens judgement?
does he mean the stars in sky which light the sailors way?
“but he himself was broken long before the sky would open
abandoned almost human
he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone”
meanwhile where is suzanne in all this?
shes temporarily forgotten…
and,yes in one way christ was broken before the sky would open
in a way cohen echoes the taunts of the romans n pharisees
why dont yer god save ya now, druid?
as jesus was mercilessly banged up on the excruciating cross
cohen also implies the freedom the skies could grant was rain
going on with the river and ocean
(surely tears cant be far away??!!)
anyway now christ is abandoned
by cohen
by the jews
by the romans
and almost by you
youre almost at the end of this verse
suddenly youre losing interest in the man of sorrows
he who was abandoned by almost everyone
sold
denied
left to his fate
and now
despite cohen telling you his sad story
you have used your “wisdom” to push him away
he actually sinks into your watery subconscious
and on into oblivion
a heavy inanimate object
in the end
although he could once walk on water
he ends up sinking anyway
“and you want to travel with him
and you want to travel blind
you know you can trust him
hes touched your perfect body with his mind”
more travel/voyages
christ and his retinue of saved souls picking up momentum
but always into the unknown travelling blind
now hes touched your body your heart
with his mind his heart
hes saying go back to suzanne now
but a little part of me may go on in you
“suzanne takes your hand and leads you to the river
shes wearing rags n feathers from salvation army counters”
youve left her place
now youre going down down to the river itself
you seem a bit unwilling or unable
or you dont know where youre going
or why else is she leading you
one things for sure
her dress is a bit embarrassing to you
rags n feathers
2nd hand at that
shes a crazy scruff
but somehow she has some of christs attributes
rubbed off from the second verse
you try to understand her bizarre attire
“the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbour”
ah a beatific vision..
suzanne as whore with a halo
martyred beatnik wisewoman crazybitch
how are you feeling about her now?
a seeress
an angel of destiny
the sunlight is so warm without burning
its a lovely moment
there on the shoreline
the river is now a harbour
and suzanne is its patron saint
she is so much more than you could dream possible
its a photo opportunity
“and she shows you were to look among the garbage and the flowers
there are heroes in the sea weed, there are children in the morning”
suzanne
like all saints
can let you see the marvellous in the mundane
she needs to show you where to look
otherwise you may not have noticed
the beauty in every single thing
in the 2 extremes of garbage and flowers
in all things
in the seaweed the heroes
what does this mean?
nothing
except to look for the miraculous constantly
or is cohen referring back to our drowners n sinking jesus
surely heroes all now down amongst the seaweed
but still worthy of your remembrance
and of course
the children
the future
the innocent ones
the lambs
the ones you could still yet help
suzanne now reveals them
the hope for this dizzy world
suzanne is a voice for the phantom children yet to be born
or are they suzannes own children
running in to mother in the morning
only to find you and or lenny cohen in there too?
“they are leaning out for love
they will lean that way forever
while suzanne holds the mirror”
leaning out of where…the mirror?
leaning out of that symbolically future morning
into the present day?
anyway
they like all children need love
they always do and always will
even these children in the future
however suzanne seems to have suspended them there in time
as long as she needs to
forever if necessary
suzanne does things in forevers after all
and only when the love is truly available
from you or any other lover
only if you will love the children you may conceive
will she allow them to materialise

there you go
probably not one of these thoughts occurred to lc
when he wrote it
its just my interpretation

72 Responses to “the song n its singer”

  1. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 6:29 am #

    ^^

    *

  2. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 6:31 am #

    ok alien.

  3. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 6:36 am #

    Image of a coked up Donnie Sutherland on a saturday morning

  4. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 6:39 am #

    this half mad free loving woman.

  5. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 6:52 am #

    Half Mad?….on the contraire monsieur!…stark raving bonkers!…;-)))Ha-ha!…and waiting for the triangular van to come n take her away,tra-la!.xo../jb

  6. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 7:13 am #

    killer, suzanne must be VERY glad to hear you sing this song to her. how intriguing! see, she’s smiling towards you, when you are busy cursing.
    what a gunis you are!!!!

  7. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 7:26 am #

    why do women always get called “whore” and “witch”, when men get called “stud” and “druid”?

    Q. How many men do you have to sleep with before you get to be “promiscuous”; and isn’t a whore someone who fucks for money? Can a man be a whore? Can a man be promiscuous?

    ———-

    Suzanne is Jesus, blindness is trust, their love is unconditional; she might be in Tangiers (could this be the same Her?)

    xxxKittykat

  8. avatar
    AthanasiusPernath | 26 September 2007 at 7:47 am #

    steve, that was great. i just let my pasta boil into a pulp, because i couldnt stop reading. gets you right to the core of the song’s mystery while still leaving some dark corners unexplained. how many interpretations are almost as beautiful as the work-of-art itself? How many interpretations can cut their subject into bits, slices and pieces, but it’s still whole after all? How many children can take apart grandfather’s clockwork, and it’s still running and more beautiful after, actually.

    the whole lenny cohen ambiguity game, his way of convincing you jesus did this and that…like some alternative jesus in a parallel universe, the way he slightly bends the gospel…

    I hear that voice explaining me the song…someone getting me down to the essence of the mystery…no, don’t spoil the magic, don’t explain…”oh yes i will, because there’s also beauty in enlightenment”…like the other SK, Stan Kubrick…and in the end, a sleight of hand, and it all stands before you as a unity.

    God that was a wonderful blog.

    The river imagery…the oranges…

    I always hadda similar feeling when that favourite band of mine gets to the second verse of Hotel Womb…a sudden voltage in the night, and a rainforest girl…for sure there aren’t electricity pylons in that rainforest, so it’s only your electricity…or that between you..and the brazilian relative of suzanne..then floating down the amazon river (“as *you* flow” would have been more lennyish, hey?)..then you ask about the people and the masks, and that girl just tells you about the mother of the storm, which is not an answer at all, but an answer that just smashes your question…whatever, the 2nd verse of HW…bit Cohenesque. Just some brush strokes, and whoops, there is the whole dripping, nightly, humid, electric rainforest, the girl with the feathery hair, and more mystery in a second than in the whole of alan parsons’ tales of mystery and imagination.

    Anyway…

    what a lovely, lovely blog. I’m gonna print it out and slip it into my copy of Fruit Machine.

    st.

  9. avatar
    AthanasiusPernath | 26 September 2007 at 8:23 am #

    interesting device, how a name is enough to get a whole image/story into your head. What about that esmeralda who falls in love every saturday. or naomi…who*ll not be consoled by my blues…or Danielle, who, look-wise, hasn’t her best day today.. so it’s got to be a beautiful name. who’d start his song with “Deirdre”=?

    wasn’t it in Cohen’s 1st novel…the favourite game…wasn’t there a girl called “Shell”?

  10. avatar
    steve kilbey | 26 September 2007 at 8:24 am #

    kitty kat
    remember this is a song from the sixties
    i interpret the words with this then in mind
    certainly suzanne would have been considered
    promiscuous by any standard of the time
    perhaps the word is no longer relevant
    a bit like wavelength perhaps
    men cannot be whores
    but women cant be bastards
    sorry for peddling any stereo-tipes
    sk

  11. avatar
    esne snoner | 26 September 2007 at 8:25 am #

    been reading ttb for a long time and this is the first time i have encountered an sk interpretation of the lyrics of a tune – more please – pick ’em at random from the ipod – you obliviously have the interpretation skills and we your humble audience lack the time, intelligence or insight to take a 3 minute tune and create a totally readable thesis – book material!

  12. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 8:56 am #

    as he lay dying my father wrote of the joy of “untrammeled discourse”; guess I’m just a chip off the old block.

    ttb is great because of the comments and insights of others, the things they can add, things ya never knew, old things you’d forgotten,places they link to, red herrings, green onions, poems, ideas, senses of humour, expansions on themes, tolerance and yes, even the occasional stoush

    AthanasiusPernath’s pulped pasta, my leaning mesmerised in to the screen and getting “bang”, anon 4:36’s funny “Image of a coked up Donnie Sutherland on a saturday “, brien comerford’s underrated writing skills (he’s a great church reviewer, i reckon),,,etc etc

    and you, Kilbey, brilliantly running this thing, not only writing things that make us variously think, consider, cruise, hum, enjoy, love, adore, be disgruntled with; not only that great feat; you also manage to somehow curate the lot of us; tolerantly…..god knows how……
    that’s the magician among the spirits

    my mum and dad used to play Leonard Cohen when I was a kid. I always thought Suzanne was the woman on the cover of Songs From A Room,- (was it that one? – the woman in white in the Greek stucco’d summer room)kind of like an aunt (to me then)…maybe I was just protecting her imagined honour
    “noooooo, the child cried, she’s my auntie!..”

    keep it coming killer, all of it…
    it’s rare
    it’s the best
    it’s a song

    Love,and muchos gracis,
    Kittykatxxx

  13. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 8:58 am #

    you are such a brilliant writer SK!…was even trying to fathom whether I’d rather hear you speak about the song or sing it…It is a lovely loop of a song{suzanne,and the meanings inside meanings,are both obviously loopy}…Lenny sometimes reminds me of a slightly more sensitive Charles Buckowski..actually maybe MUCH more sensitive,now that I’ve said that….wish the blog was in audio,n stereo..this bloody computer voice drives me spare sometimes..and like I need to be more than a march hatter..play it again sam!..just beautiful Mr.Kilbey!..a smashing night to you and all!..love,as always,gen xxxxx….p.s. kittykat…an old {apparently comical} phrase{sorry if it sounds sexist,but it’s meant to be sarcastic}{supposed to be said by a man}”a tart is a woman who sleeps with anyone…a whore is a woman who sleeps with anyone,EXCEPT ME”..haha! 😉

  14. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 9:17 am #

    that reminded me of sitting in English Lit. class in high school trying to write something insightful about A Farewell to Arms

  15. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 9:23 am #

    P.P.S…thank you Steve! it’s always a pleasure to read your words at the sunset peace time….had a frustrating day today!…silly broad I am….Ieven mistakenly but ironically,and comically tried to pay for my veges with the medicare card{it should be permissable…YES?}..so…thanks,and much love,and peace in return..xxxooo gen x

  16. avatar
    isolde | 26 September 2007 at 9:40 am #

    “Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river”

    recurring theme of water alluding to the unconscious and going to that place, you are going on a journey to the unconscious/ unsconsious spirit world

    “You can hear the boats go by”

    recurring theme of water related symbols of this journey

    “You can spend the night beside her
    And you know that she’s half crazy
    But that’s why you want to be there”

    you want to escape the conscious world and go to this other world that is considered half crazy, and “she” which is really your own journeying spirit/feminine intuitive self, will take you there

    “And she feeds you tea and oranges
    That come all the way from China”

    evokes the old empire, reference to sea trade, things simple, civilised and zen

    “And just when you mean to tell her
    That you have no love to give her
    Then she gets you on her wavelength”

    wavelength is a reference to the water/unconscious again, also waves of understanding, intuition

    “And she lets the river answer
    That you’ve always been her lover
    And you want to travel with her
    And you want to travel blind
    And you know that she will trust you
    For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.”

    clearly states here this is not a physical relationship but of the spirit

    “He said “All men will be sailors then
    Until the sea shall free them”

    men only travel on the surface of the water (drowning in superficiality) until they go into the sea (of their unconscious/spirit)
    a wooden tower in sea terms is a lighthouse that saves souls

    “He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone”

    men think they are wise but their use of the intellect to deal with the surface of things gives them delusions of what wisdom is

    “Now Suzanne takes your hand
    And she leads you to the river
    She is wearing rags and feathers
    From Salvation Army counters”

    poverty is the way to enlightenment and being able to see

    “While Suzanne holds the mirror”

    if you are in touch with your subconscious/unconscious/spirit you will see yourself and the true nature of reality

  17. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 10:24 am #

    I do not like this musicology and I do not like that Leonard Cohen.
    I think Authority is better than anything Leonard ever wrote n that inc.s Hallelujah. I love the hypnotic, surging, headswimming music and (apart from the frogs a-croakin) it has some wonderful lyrics. Authority…yup.

  18. avatar
    all equal...? | 26 September 2007 at 10:26 am #

    I see Kittykat is back to her male-hating ways. Apply the same level of blank prejudice to any other group and you’d be called a fascist.

  19. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 10:37 am #

    …travel blind?…or get a GPS strapped to yer schtick!..

  20. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 10:45 am #

    I know you don’t take requests sk, but I’d love to hear this song sung by the one&only Friday night (but make sure the mic’s disinfected this time!)
    Luv Amanda

  21. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 11:53 am #

    You spoil us killer

  22. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 11:57 am #

    i read today’s blog and i got to the end of it feeling like i’d been on some extraordinary journey…thank you…
    love always
    -The Hellbound Heart

  23. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 12:00 pm #

    Hey Steve,really enjoyed the (mind)bloggles today….I’ve never anaylised this song and it was quite a journey with you.Always thought the lyric was “tangerine oranges all the way from China” and for some reason has always made an impression on me.I think it was the way LC sung that line that it stuck out.
    It just goes to show how many different ways a song can be interpreted,in fact each word and sentence,which can then take you down numerous different paths.Love it!!!!

  24. avatar
    restaurant mark | 26 September 2007 at 12:08 pm #

    great blog…that was a good spliff wasn’t it??? just kidding around man.
    men can’t be whores??? really? that’s a shame…i think anyone can be anything if they really try…

    take care everyone

    mark

  25. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 12:21 pm #

    “Can men be promiscuous” ?! Doh! What kind of a 15-year-old’s Sociology discussion point is that?! Some people appear to be a lot thicker than any adult has a right to be.

  26. avatar
    steve kilbey | 26 September 2007 at 12:21 pm #

    maybe it is tangerine oranges…

  27. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 12:30 pm #

    lesson learned

  28. avatar
    Faye | 26 September 2007 at 12:43 pm #

    what an extraordinary journey SK!Mmmm..Tangerine?reminds me of that “Go-Go’s” song,”Alex the seal”..My tea went cold as I drifted off into your songscape interpretation.Would you say then,that today’s blog was a corker?I don’t really go for the politically correct lingo{unless of course it’sin really,really poor taste}.I think our world loses a lot of it’s colour and vibrance because of the namby pamby,pussyfooting around of the P.C. militia.They must have been just beside themselves to hear you sing this song at the Poetry Festival{lucky,lucky bastards!}.unmistakably,you are the BEST! peace and love xo

  29. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 12:47 pm #

    Russell Mael of Sparks asked Jane Weidlin of the Go-Gos to marry him. She said no. I know you needed to know that, Steven.

  30. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 1:03 pm #

    Go-Go’s general information link,or was it relevant to this/ attatched to this postie?

  31. avatar
    Canadian Rawka | 26 September 2007 at 1:05 pm #

    Very nice stuff lately, Kilbey. Your thoughts on other musicians are always fair and well considered. How ’bout Kilbey’s history of Australian rock?

  32. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 1:14 pm #

    Hey, don’t you guys know nothin about our Time Being? Steve always wants Go-Gos info!

  33. avatar
    veleska1970 | 26 September 2007 at 1:15 pm #

    and your interpretation is exquisite, my dear mr. kilbey. 🙂

  34. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 1:15 pm #

    He collects Strawberry Switchblade mispressings too.

  35. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 1:16 pm #

    Fuck me, it’s Veleska! Now for the resurrection of Malcolm Arkey…

  36. avatar
    John Garratt | 26 September 2007 at 1:21 pm #

    That’s a lot to read when it comes to a song I know nothing about.

    John Garratt

  37. avatar
    a massage from the Swedish Prime Minister | 26 September 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    Tangerine + :-)))

  38. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 2:02 pm #

    have a nice, peaceful night steve.
    i love you.

    *

  39. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 26 September 2007 at 2:24 pm #

    Leonard Cohen spends lots of time in a Buddhist monastery. “Easy” is the most infectious song that I have ever heard in addition to “Hello Goodbye”. Yesterday I showed ignorance via stating Rod Stewart and Ron Wood exited the JB group to join Small Faces. They formed Faces and joined Ronnie Lane. Listened to the 2 Jack Frost CDS and Isidore last night while watching the Chicago Cubs lose a game in their quest to make the Baseball playoffs. SK and Grant were better entertainment than the CUBS. Welcome back V.

  40. avatar
    nomadic sprite | 26 September 2007 at 2:33 pm #

    Suzanne as Mary Magdalene… thank u for a new view on an old song… 🙂

  41. avatar
    thickhead | 26 September 2007 at 2:57 pm #

    Is Suzanne a Heyday outtake?!

  42. avatar
    gareth,notts | 26 September 2007 at 3:17 pm #

    always loved L.C.’s stuff,and suzanne was an early favourite,that analysis/interpretation is a must-read for any fan of that song….loved it!…..fantastic!…

  43. avatar
    Noel Christian | 26 September 2007 at 4:40 pm #

    This morning I dreamt that I was trapped at a posh bangquet peopled by some unsavory characters from my last job.

    I saw a familiar face and an empty seat. Setting my food and pale green china cup down on the linens I slid in unnecessarily close to this person.

    She was friendly enough and and joked about my proximity (which felt like a mother bird’s wing). I slid a little to the left.

    The woman was Suzanne Vega.

    (which perplexed me a bit)

    Thanks for this one, Steve.
    A thesis.

  44. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 5:04 pm #

    aha Noel…yes, I’m using free speach! You read my mind…’n Steve, thanks for your insights. Let’s compare:
    1)I wouldn’t sleep next to a woman, that’s not the way my sexuality goes.
    2)You answered my q. Noel. How would an inquisitve fellow like yourself see an un-plumb woman upon one instance.
    I’m not afraid to raise some social, ethical, racial issues- we should talk about them.
    3) The black R&B man from across the bay says, “You don’t know that’s her bed, or if she’ll stay there all nite”
    4) Right Brien C. This is not only a ‘sixties’ thing, but a ritual I’ve also gleened about Hindu India…’bringing one to the river. Sometimes it’s to wash with holy water, sometimes to have the closest person light the fire under the remains.’ (gulp)
    5) Jesus said, “Hey leave me out of this.” …he was a carpenter, but would he have built a ship?

    The tide is turning,

    Art

  45. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 5:35 pm #

    A very special person bought me an intrduction to Leonard Cohen album…Excellent ! “Dance me to the end of Love” a favourite of mine…

    Much love
    D
    XX

  46. avatar
    JONNY NOT YET SO HOLLYWOODISH | 26 September 2007 at 5:42 pm #

    How ironic, eye was listening to Leonard Cohen last knight, me “Terra Nova Jean” story that will blow YOU ALL away one day…
    mjnjr

  47. avatar
    fantasticandy | 26 September 2007 at 7:13 pm #

    steve,
    sorry this has no relevence whatsoever..vis a vis LC or spiffingly good analysis thereof,
    but….
    VELESKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    hello my lovely!
    i hope all is well,
    welcome home!
    much love,
    andy L.

  48. avatar
    davem | 26 September 2007 at 7:25 pm #

    I’d always seen it as bit of a guilt trip. Sins of the flesh and the Jews rejecting the “messiah”. The Jesus quote in the lyric paraphrasing “Father forgive them – they know not what they do”. God being the sea.
    But then I’m just a thick brummie….

  49. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 8:06 pm #

    I thought the “lonely wooden tower” was the cross itself on which Jesus was crucified. Or it could be the reference to his life as a carpenter, working with wood until age 30. He only really taught and journeyed full time the last three years of his life on earth as I understand it.

  50. avatar
    Chris Woods | 26 September 2007 at 8:06 pm #

    Too me the “wooden tower” is the cross Jesus hung on till his death…remember ? he saved a new believer who was dying right beside him…so it’s never too late . Human lyrics can be very compelling with mystical imagery and personifications testifing our unlimited imaginations and sense of wisdom. With the vast endlessness of space(FOR THE EYES) being an example of infinity similiar to infinity in mathematics (FOR THE BRAIN)..creativity is our greatest gift and obviosly our “Fathers” too.
    JESUS’ words are beutiful truth and had he been a musician instead of a carpenter ..he may have even sang his parrables to convey his message of “formula” for life everlasting…peace& hope…

  51. avatar
    Suzanne Vegas | 26 September 2007 at 8:34 pm #

    Today I am,a small true sing…Mmm a marvel,in my eyes.I am tall and smooth and curious,I never blink…I am what-ching yoo..x ;

  52. avatar
    restaurant mark | 26 September 2007 at 8:34 pm #

    welcome back veleska!

  53. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 8:43 pm #

    Art, Jesus was not a carpenter. He was a carpenter’s son.

  54. avatar
    Sunshine | 26 September 2007 at 9:06 pm #

    Well, there’s my money well spent. Fantastic entry, Professor K. Where can I sign up for your course?

    What makes something a “good” song, vs. a “bad” song? Is over-saturation the demise of a “good song” and the thing that makes it plummet into “bad song” territory? Or is it that it was bad to begin with?

    Do you think radio/popularity make good songs go bad or merely expose the monotony of them? I know not all songs on radio are bad, but so few stand the test after 8-gazillion listenings. Prime example: although I’m sure you are bored senseless hearing about it… UTMW still sounds great after 8-gazillion++ plays.

    ~Sunshine

  55. avatar
    Sunshine | 26 September 2007 at 9:12 pm #

    PS – “Good vs Bad” – Aside from the obvious songs that are crappy from the first listen beyond, mind you.

  56. avatar
    Tony Pucci | 26 September 2007 at 9:25 pm #

    excellent job, sk
    it was really interesting to read this
    hopefully you’ll approach other songs
    in this manner
    over the course of your blog
    indeed, such worlds
    are what draw us to Church songs
    and why we hold YOU close to our heart
    esmerelda falls in love every saturday
    and on sunday don’t remember a thing
    and our own intrigue begins
    thanks for everything, killa
    peace
    puccifish

  57. avatar
    timf | 26 September 2007 at 9:46 pm #

    All of that out of 3 minutes 49 seconds!

    At 4am this morning read this as wicked cold keeping me up, read your blog and instantly put on the track.

    I’ll never hear it the same way again.

    too bad lenny nearly went broke recently thanks to mis-management. Oh well he spent a couple of years in a buddist monestary so mayber material things aren’t too important to him.

    Cheers.

    Tim

  58. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 11:24 pm #

    Where’s CaptainMission? Working?

  59. avatar
    Anonymous | 26 September 2007 at 11:32 pm #

    Good Morning Mr.Sparkley Kilbey!..i do hope that you are having a gorgeous day!. xxxxx love,as always,gen

  60. avatar
    Anonymous | 27 September 2007 at 12:20 am #

    Did the good Captain capsize while getting over it?

  61. avatar
    The Clock | 27 September 2007 at 12:48 am #

    Maybe..captain mission is immersed,and swimmin’ in it!..Oh,frabjious day,calloo calais! X love.

  62. avatar
    Anonymous | 27 September 2007 at 1:31 am #

    I think we could all relate to that …”mad enchanting genius”.your disection in this entry is marvellous SK!sounds as though you are on fire at the moment!Melbourne is in for a treat,eh?!!! …/cwx

  63. avatar
    Anonymous | 27 September 2007 at 2:09 am #

    Hi sk, I had a look at the suzanne video clip and LC’s mouth definitely mimes “tea and oranges” not “tangerine oranges” as someone suggested…just thought you might like to know.
    Have a beautiful day in Bondi, enjoy the sunshine cos the forcast for Melby tomorrow is rain & cold, cold winds (so what’s new!)
    Love Amanda

  64. avatar
    steve kilbey | 27 September 2007 at 3:38 am #

    better bring my long undies

  65. avatar
    Faye | 27 September 2007 at 3:40 am #

    Amanda…whether it be “tea n oranges” or “tangerine oranges”,the sentiment would be just as sublime,if SK’s energy was the amplifier..he’s so beautiful!The Perfect arrangement of SK’s gifts,in any song,is just heavenly!.woops,was that gushing?…Mmm ,I do believe it was! peace and love. xo

  66. avatar
    Anonymous | 27 September 2007 at 4:18 am #

    Yeah I agree Faye, I was just curious to hear what the actual words were, that’s all.

    Ha ha, sk in long undies!! That’d be a good look on stage actually, hipsters, black and really skin tight…..yummy!!!
    Luv Amanda

  67. avatar
    Anonymous | 27 September 2007 at 6:03 am #

    Oh my!…YUM!..lordy,lordy,lordy! x

  68. avatar
    J38.46 | 28 September 2007 at 9:31 am #

    You are so precious SK! I Do Love YOU!

  69. avatar
    Entropy's Stagger | 28 September 2007 at 4:44 pm #

    Very cool interpretation.

    Someone up there mentioned the picture on the back of “Songs From A Room”. Have any of you seen that picture on a 12″ vinyl album? There’s something very mesmerizing about that picture. The dreary room, the typewriter, her there with her long hair and nothing but a towel wrapped around her. And, must especially, that mischievious smile she has on. Far out.

    Of course, Suzanne came from LC’s 1st album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, and the back side of THAT album cover is just as strange but in a different way. That painting is truly tripped.

    Gotta dig Lenny. Any of you hear his latest, Dear Heather? He sounds like a 70 year old gigantic bullfrog. He rocks!

  70. avatar
    Anonymous | 28 September 2007 at 8:32 pm #

    Oh,you are very,very clever!.. Mr.Kilbey?{?} oooooooh! so very clever..i hate it!..but ….I LOVE IT!.lenny must really have enjoyed playing with his wilde-childe.In the song,there’s an overtone of joyful surprise,at her{and subsequently his}fiery,passionate zest for life and ritual twisting of the rules..I bet you she devoured him,first chance she got!

  71. avatar
    Anonymous | 28 September 2007 at 8:56 pm #

    You’re so perfect.i love you *

  72. avatar
    Gary Robinson | 1 March 2008 at 2:15 am #

    I love this post. I’ve been singing, and wondering about, this song for more than 30 years, and yours is the most beautiful commentary I’ve ever seen on it.

    One thing though — it wasn’t the sky that freed Jesus in the song, it was the sea. It’s very clear on the record.


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