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Keep Art Alive :: Art by Loui Jover

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

Nearly everything I have ever written, be it a short story, or a novel-in-progress, has has 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. I loved it. I would drag my books, or sheets of paper, out into that front room, set myself down the corner closest to the sounds, and lose an entire afternoon in music.

It was a warm day, possibly late Summer (it is so hard to determine season in sunny California), 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 spinning. She yelled out to me to put something else on, and Leonard’s album was right there, in arm’s reach, asking for his turn at bat.

I actually knew this song from Judy Collins’ In My Life album, she was a favorite 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 plots that just build off each lyrical refrain, and melodic arc.

I think Leonard will always be one of my muses.

Suzanne (live) :: Leonard Cohen & Judy Collins

Suzanne :: Leonard Cohen

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