Suzanne Verdal and Leonard Cohen


It is said that Suzanne Verdal and Leonard Cohen first met at a coffee house on Rue de la Montagne called Le Bistro. Suzanne says they first met at Le Vieux Moulin. But here is where everyone knows from his song that she took him. She lived in room 202 with her daughter Julie. The room has high ceilings and four large windows facing the river. As Cohen's song goes, Suzanne would serve him tea and not oranges as in the song, but lychees. Leonard said the tea was simply Constant Comment, which comes with little bits of orange rind already in it. Suzanne would light a candle she had named Anastasia, it would be quiet for some time, and then they'd talk. Theirs was a platonic relationship. Verdal recounts, "I was the one that put the boundaries on that because Leonard is actually a very sexual man and very attractive and very charismatic. And I was very attracted to him, but somehow I didn't want to spoil that preciousness, that infinite respect that I had for him, for our relationship, and I felt that a sexual encounter might demean it somehow." There was one other time they met each other, in Minneapolis in the late 70s. At the time, Cohen said to Verdal, "You gave me a beautiful song, girl." In the 1980s nearby Place Jacques-Cartier was the last place the two saw each other. Suzanne was dancing and for whatever reason, Leonard did not acknowledge her. After the dance, he simply walked away. Verdal went on to work as a dancer in many places and ended up living out of a homebuilt wooden camper, spending her days in Venice Beach.

Vieux-Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada