Leonard Cohen was a famous Canadian singer and songwriter best-known for his influential lyrics and desire to transcend musical boundaries.
With a career spanning decades, Cohen was able to learn and grow with his music. He wrote songs about politics, religion, loss, and romance.
Through his powerful lyrics, Cohen touched the lives of millions of people around the globe.
He became so popular that some of his songs are still ranked amongst the most-listened-to songs of all time.
Some of his most recognized works include “Hallelujah,” “Dance Me to the End of Love” and “Suzanne.” Although he was quite the talented vocalist, several of Cohen’s songs really gained traction as they were recreated through other artists.
In addition to just his musical career, Cohen was also a published poet and author.
His ability to write meaningful words on paper allowed Cohen to apply the same deep messages to his songs.
Originally written as a poem, “Suzanne” was Cohen’s first great hit.
Cohen’s 1967 debut of “Suzanne” gained Cohen the international exposure to help his career take off. With the lyrics “but he himself was broken” Cohen began to touch on some of his darker emotions. He sang with a rawness that was unique for the time.
His final song, released just weeks before his death, showcased the same theme of brokenness.
Much of Cohen’s later fame stemmed from covers made of his songs.
“Hallelujah” has been replicated hundreds of times, the most notable being Jeff Buckley’s version of this classic hit. With each rendition introducing new people to Cohen’s songs, his work is still gaining a following even until this day. Musicians are still performing and recreating Cohen’s songs years later.
Some covers of Cohen’s songs even outperformed their originals.
Nina Simone was a famous American singer, writer and civil rights activist.
Spanning several musical genres, Simone was an influential pop, jazz, and blues artist. With her strong vocals and artistic creativity, Simone is still widely recognized today, years after her death. Simone’s top recordings include the songs “Feeling Good” and “I Put a Spell on You.”
“Suzanne” was the first song recorded on Simone’s album To Love Somebody.
Simone’s cover of “Suzanne” is argued as the best rendition of this Cohen masterpiece.
As one of Cohen’s greatest musical works, his song “Suzanne” stems from a male point of view. Simone’s rendition of this classic song brings new air to the piece as it gives it a much more feminine take.
Simone performs this song from the perspective of Suzanne.
Replacing the lyrics “You’ve touched her perfect body with your mind” with the words “She touched your perfect body with her mind,” Simone recreates this Cohen masterpiece, and the results are breathtaking!
Niel Diamond, Journey and James Taylor have all recorded their own covers to “Suzanne,” but none can compare to Simone’s version.
Most artists recreate songs by keeping the original lyrics and beat. Simone transcended boundaries by adding her own spin to the song, thereby making it a beautiful representation of herself, as well.
In this live performance, Simone’s energy is unparalleled.
The studio recording of her song is beautiful, but Simone adds an entirely new element when singing on stage. To enjoy Simone’s full performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” be sure to check out the video player below!
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