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Suzanne,

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by Judy Collins. This song has been in the back of my mind ever since frumiousb posted a youtube rendition by a different artist. I've had Judy Collins' Colors of the Day cd for years and have a ripped copy on my laptop. Suzanne has been a favorite song of mine ever since it came out. In later years, I've associated it with a particular phase, and major turning point, of my life, but as I listened to the youtube version while watching the accompanying video, I realized my mental timing was off.
The Colors of the Day vinyl LP apparently came out in 1972, and I remember listening to Suzanne in 1969. Fortunately, we have the web to resolve small dilemmas such as this.

From Wikipedia, I learned that the song Suzanne derives from the poem Suzanne Takes You Down written by the Canadian poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen and published in his 1966 book Parasites of Heaven. That same year Judy Collins included Suzanne on her album In My Life. The next year, Leonard released his version of the song on the LP Songs of Leonard Cohen. The song was included on the 1972 Judy Collins' "Greatest Hits" album Colors of the Day.

Dilemma resolved. In 1969, I must have owned and enjoyed a copy of In My Life. Looking at the play list, I do remember Marat/Sade being on my LP. I'm not a great fan of Judy Collins, Suzanne, Marat/Sade, and Amazing Grace are the only songs of hers I care for. Today, I tend to like the version of Suzanne she sang with Leonard Cohen better than her original rendition. The original has way too much guitar sound.
Interestingly, the song was about a real person and real situations. Suzanne Verdal was a professional dancer, married, separated, and living on the riverfront in Montreal when she met Leonard Cohen. She now lives in California. She is having an interesting life.

I wasn't aware the song had Montreal roots until recently. Or maybe I did, but I'd forgotten. I do know that I'd tagged Susanne with Montreal in my mind because in the summer of 1969 when I first heard the song, I was living, off and on, just across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal in a waterfront trailer park. I write 'off and on' because the park was a sort of 'home base' for our seismic prospecting party. That summer, we worked various prospects along the river as far north as Rimouski. Usually, in settled areas we would stay in motels, but we'd been told that during the summer most hotels and motels along the river were heavily booked, so we decided to get trailers built along the lines of those we used in camps farther north. The trailers allowed us to stay in trailer parks close to each prospect. Those trailer parks along the river were never full, so it was a good decision.

(more tomorrow)
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On June 18th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC), misswrite commented:
Thanks for the post. I've had a version sung by Nina Simone on my iPod for awhile. I knew it was written by Leonard Cohen, but hadn't heard these other versions. :)
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On June 18th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC), misswrite replied:
Here's the Nina Simone one:

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