by Nina Martyris


In the summer of '65, Leonard Cohen, the great poet-singer who died last week, spent many happy hours in a warehouse by the St Lawrence River in his hometown, Montreal. As he watched the boats go by, his friend, a young bohemian dancer named Suzanne Verdal, whose warehouse it was, served him tea and oranges that came all the way from China.

Or so he famously sang in his 1967 debut single, Suzanne. The haunting ballad would launch Cohen's musical career, taking him from a minor poet and novelist to one of the great songwriters of our time. Tinctured with melancholy, the song touches on love, longing, redemption and faith. It has a mystical quality, but Cohen insisted it was pure journalism. He had simply reported what had happened in that warehouse and set it to music.

So did Suzanne really serve tea and oranges? In more than one interview, Cohen was asked what exactly was meant by those fragrant lines:

"and she feeds you tea and oranges
that come all the way from China"

Read the article

Posted 11/16/2016

Source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/11/15/502047665/the-story-behind-the-tea-and-oranges-in-leonard-cohens-song-suzanne