Analysis of Suzanne

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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Re: Suzanne.

Postby Janem » Fri Oct 25, 2002 3:55 pm

Andrew McGeever wrote: 4. The attempted template of Freud/ Jung on this poem/song does disservice to Leonard Cohen: you don't need early 20th century pseudo-science to criticise a poem...use your intelligence, your imagination, your critical faculties, if they exist.

5. The reference to Bob Dylan summed up the lack of critical faculties on the part of the writer.
See now, I could see if you'd said, "I don't agree with X's analysis, or with Y's opinion of Dylan, no thanks." That's fine, no problem. But why add the personal sting, Andrew? "your critical faculties, if they exist" and so on. When you say something like this, I understand it as a personal swipe, at Jurica or me or whoever, it doesn't matter, it all makes me feel hesitant to post an opinion again. I wish we could just talk and disagree here without taking it to that level.

On the "let's agree to disagree level," in my opinion it is perfectly valid to use Freud and Jung in literary analysis, though it's not everyone's bag. If you take a course in lit theory, for example, you will find the texts include an array of critical approaches, from the psychoanalytic to the mythical to rhetorical/formal to political, marxist, feminist, etc. There is no "ground zero" of analysis, one with no theoretical assumptions behind it; there are always assumptions we begin with, even if we are unaware of them.

Meaning no harm to you,
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Postby lightning » Fri Oct 25, 2002 4:29 pm

Males songwriters appear to be at their best when women are walking out on them. (also Brel-Ne Quitte Pas which may have been inspired by Act 4 of Carmen where Don Jose begs with the same words). But while Suzanne didn't suffer much for that paen to her, Sara endured a lot of mistreatment, mostly as flagrant infidelity. But as compensation she got to be a muse for one of Dylan's most touching songs and also half his fortune.
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Postby jurica » Sat Oct 26, 2002 1:41 pm


I've only just read mr. McGeever's comments, and I must say I'm impressed with all of the information he shared with us. Great knowlege about Suzanne indeed!!! My complements.

Further on, I must say I was hoping to receive some negative rewievs of my work on the poem, since they always make room for improving one's scope. But I still have to say few things in my defence:

1. "you don't need early 20th century pseudo-science to criticise a poem" - I NEVER tend to criticise any poems... I try to rewiev them. There's difference between the terms, since your implies trying to find something wrong with it, while I always try to find what's right with it! As to the early 20th century, the fact is that Freud first stated basics of what Fromm and other newer scientists brought to higher level.

2. I do not dismiss work of Bob Dylan in any way! I like surrealisam in his works. I actualy listen to his records more often than Leonard's (perhaps because there's so much more of them). But I do not think Sara is nearly as good a song as Suzanne is!!! I belive mr. Dylan himself said he was sorry he ever wrote it. Desolation Row, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again or Changing of the Guards howewer might be.

3. How does any attempt to understand artist or his art do disservice to him unles his art is hollow and naive, which can hardly be said for mr. Cohne's?

Thanx for your patience, and replies,
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Postby Kush » Sat Oct 26, 2002 7:41 pm

I think Dylan said he was sorry he ever 'recorded' Sara (or was it Ballad in Plain D) and the reason was that it was very autobiographical and he didnt want his personal life on public display. Like most of Dylan's output I don't think it is as lyrically precise as Suzanne but yes, I do find it more touching and more emotional. I would perhaps even go as far to say that in general Dylan is more emotionally honest in his love songs (and spite songs) who spews it all out (love, hurt, anger, venom, spite, even apathy and indifference) whereas Cohen is more calculating who says exactly what he wants to say, no more and no less. The imagery in both is very vivid and while Suzanne works very well either as song or as poem, Sara is more limited to being a song.
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Postby dora » Tue Dec 10, 2002 8:43 pm

Of course Suzanne goes beyond simple "I wanted her,I couldn't get her" thing.I always thought it was about mystical experience,and the similarity between love/sex and love/god.Mystics are said to have some kind of orgasm feeling when they reach god.Better when they feel the energy of god flowing through them.Body and mind overlap.Maybe I'm just stating the obvious,I'm new to this group,but that's the first thing that this song suggested to me.
The water symbolizes feelings and subconscious,so it's associated with Suzanne (=someone you dismiss as "crazy" with your rational intellect)and Jesus (because faith is not a rational thing,but only "drowning men could see him",that could mean "only those who are in distress",but also "only those who dive deep into the subconscius mind)'s kind of Jungian: it's a song about Anima,I guess.About the feminine part who nurtures ("feeds you tea...") and is deeply associated with water and water-like objects (like the mirror)...
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Postby dora » Tue Dec 10, 2002 8:49 pm

Janem wrote:Jurica, I think you deserve an A+ on your analysis of "Suzanne!"

I also loved Leonard's comment posted by Gaia.

It might be fun to add some Carl Jung into the mix, Jurica. Jung's idea that all men have a feminine side or Anima (just as all women have a male side,the Animus) seems relevant. The Great Nurturing Mother is one of the faces of the Anima. Until a man integrates that face into his own personality wholly, he will repeatedly seek and project it outside the self, in women to whom he is attracted. In fact part of the attraction is that she seems to manifest the Anima in the particular way that he seeks.

Or something like that, anyway! :) It works with your analysis, yes?


ps I visited the interview site suggested by Jarrko and it is fascinating, and is Suzanne ever gorgeous, after all these years!

I didn't read your comment.You basically said the same things I did.Definitely an Anima song is sooo obvious ;)...don't know if the mystic experience is only my warped mind of that works too...:)
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Re: Analysis of Suzanne

Postby suzannasinister » Sat Jun 30, 2018 4:48 am

I know one thing about this song.
For some reason the minute I hearing it my heart hurts so
much I weep, sometimes for hours. As much as I love the song
I can't listen to it very often. It hurts something deep inside I can't

Thank you for this lovely analysis, well done!
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Re: Analysis of Suzanne

Postby sebmelmoth2003 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:53 pm

kate atkinson, novelist, picked suzanne as one of her musical choices to accompany her to a desert island.
rebecca stott, writer/academic, picked suzanne as one of her private passions - record played final few minutes of programme.
nana mouskouri picked suzanne as one of her inheritance tracks.

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