And all men shall be sailors

If you are a Leonard Cohen fan you will recognize this immediately, and even if you’re not and only know his song ‘Suzanne’ then you will probably be signing it in your head right now.  When I was eighteen I had two Lenny LPs,   ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen’ and ‘Songs From a Room’; this was before CDs or downloads and when the record came to the end you had to manually turn it over or start it again if you had a Dansette Record Player like I did.

I played the LPs over and over and over again, probably literally thousands of times, and I still like them today – although I now have them on CD as well. I have not kept up with Lenny, and don’t know much of his later and newer work, except ‘Hallelujah’… am I the only one who hates it? I don’t care who sings it, I just don’t like the ghastly dirge. It has been recorded by other artists so many time – if you want to know sixty others who did so, ranked according to Zach Schonfeld and Sean Elder, have a look here:

Yesterday we were in the car and a version of ‘Suzanne’ came on the radio, by Nina Simone… I wish I could say I liked it, I wish I could say I like jazz and Nina Simone… It seemed to be sung in a flat, emotionless way to me… and I felt as if I wanted to jump out of the car, rush home and find the ‘Songs…’ LP. it’s not that I object to cover versions, I think it’s interesting to hear different interpretations and arrangements, even songs I really, really like I usually find something to admire in a ‘cover’ or other version… but sadly not Nina’s version of ‘Suzanne’.

Other people who have covered it:

  • Judy Collins
  • Noel Harrison
  • Fairport Convention
  • Roberta Flack
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Françoise hardy
  • Neil Diamond,
  • Nana Mouskouri
  • Peter Gabriel
  • Tori Amos
  • James Taylor




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