Who touched whose mind. . .

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
holydove
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Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby holydove » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:02 am

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I've noticed (or I think I've noticed) that in LC's live performances of Suzanne, he changes who will trust/find who, and who touched whose mind, with whose body, in certain verses. When I first noticed this, I thought it was a mistake, but then I saw that it's different in each live performance. So now I don't think it's a mistake, and I wonder about it. . . Next time I listen to each live performance, I will try to write down the exact changes in each one; right now, I can't remember which changes were where, & I apologize for this lack of precision, but meanwhile. . .

Has anyone else noticed this, and if so, do you care to share your thoughts? I think it's interesting. . .
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hydriot
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby hydriot » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:51 am

Yes, I noticed it and it irritated me.

It is the most charming aspect of the song Suzanne -- the way that at the end of the first verse she is trusting him as he touches her perfect body with his mind (as you would expect Leonard to do!), but by the end of the song the dominance has been reversed and he is trusting her as she touches his perfect body with her mind.

I don't know why Leonard has destroyed that subtle reversal in his recent live perfomances. It really weakens the song.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
holydove
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby holydove » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:43 pm

Hydriot, thank you so much for your response! (I wondered if anyone would ever respond to this) It's good to know I'm not imagining this.

I relate to what you are saying - at first it was disturbing, because, as you said, the sequence/reversal in the original version conveyed such a great message (that the trust is now returned because her mind has also touched him). It was very clear & symmetrical that way.

However, the way I've been been seeing it (once the initial shock dissipated), is: perhaps the message is that the boundaries between the individuals involved are not so solid; or even, that the forms/bodies they inhabit are really rather fluid & changeable; if, rather than perceiving each version of the song as a separate entity, we perceive all the versions as a kind of progression, then each individual would be kind of "morphing" into the other one, as each version of the song manifests. (He has even changed the pronouns around in the Jesus verse). I have actually come to love the asymmetry of these perpetually changing forms, & I look forward to finding out who will be who, next time!

Also, I don't think this change only happens in Leonard's most recent performances; I believe he did this even back in 1979 - if you watch the performance he did for German TV, I think you will see it.

Thank you again for your response. . .
MaryB
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby MaryB » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:28 pm

holydove wrote:Hydriot, thank you so much for your response! (I wondered if anyone would ever respond to this)
Hi holydove,

I just wanted to say that even though you may not get an immediate response to a question you post here, that does not mean that members don't read it and make our thought processes go into overdrive :D .

I know that I learn so much from these types of discussions and read them all faithfully. The insightful comments that are made (such as between yourself and Hydriot here) open up completely different possibilities of meanings for the words of LC. The interpretations of these words by the forum members are so intelligent and erudite that I feel many times inadequate in my knowledge to respond. I love reading and learning from all your posts and ultimately defer to all the expert opinions posted here. Thank you all for helping me see LC's words in so many different ways!

Grateful regards,
Mary
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holydove
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby holydove » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:41 pm

Hi Mary,

Wow - your words are so sweet and kind - thank you! I love your posts too - I see how your words are always so warm and caring - and I also read & appreciate many posts that I don't necessarily respond to - so you are right about that. I don't consider myself erudite by any means, but for so many years, before the forum existed, and then when I was too ignorant to know about the forum, I had nobody with whom I could discuss Leonard's beautiful & sacred work (except in the very beginning, when my college boyfriend and I were equally obsessed); so these discussions on this wonderful forum are very precious to me, & it fills a long-unfulfilled yearning in me, the existence of which I wasn't even fully aware of, for all those years! So even when I'm not quite sure if I'm making much sense, I post anyway! I think we are all contributing, in this community, at times with words, and at times just with our presence.

Thank you again, for your shining and loving heart. . .

Rachel
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remote1
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby remote1 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:32 am

I was listening to the NPR Beacon recording on the train back from work tonight and I am almost certain that at the end of the first stanza he says:

"And you know you can trust her
For she's touched your perfect body with your mind."

And the third stanza I believe ends with:

"And you know that you will find her
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind."

I have noticed these various inversions several times too in the past; I always assumed that they were meant to emphasize the fact that this was not simply the story of two people named Leonard and Suzanne, but that Leonard wanted to give his song a more universal significance. And so the pronouns, bodies, minds, were interchangeable...
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holydove
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby holydove » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:09 pm

Remote1, yes, and I think there is also the implication that we do not "own" our bodies/ minds, that they just ARE (although we tend to think of them as "ours"), & that one person's body/mind is not really separate from another person's body/mind, & also that body & mind are not separate from each other; so it is all very fluid and interchangeable - isn't it beautiful ?!

It reminds me of the lines in There For You: "Eating food/and drinking wine/a body that I thought was mine"

and in By the Rivers Dark: "And he said, 'this heart: it is not yours' "
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remote1
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby remote1 » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:28 am

In the case of "For she's touched your perfect body with your mind", I have this nagging feeling that the second "your" may be a mistake, though. It was live after all... Having said that, I find the line actually more beautiful and thought-provoking this way. The original line is much more obvious; this one is paradigm shifting. Perhaps it is one of these cracks that let the light get in...
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remote1
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby remote1 » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:34 am

holydove wrote:Remote1, yes, and I think there is also the implication that we do not "own" our bodies/ minds, that they just ARE (although we tend to think of them as "ours"), & that one person's body/mind is not really separate from another person's body/mind, & also that body & mind are not separate from each other; so it is all very fluid and interchangeable - isn't it beautiful ?!

It reminds me of the lines in There For You: "Eating food/and drinking wine/a body that I thought was mine"

and in By the Rivers Dark: "And he said, 'this heart: it is not yours' "
Yes, I agree entirely. I think there may be a hidden Buddhist agenda behind these subtle and beautiful shifts. I wonder what the scholars think. In fact, I wonder who the scholars are... :D
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holydove
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby holydove » Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:55 pm

Remote1, yes, I was struck more pointedly by the verse with the two "your"(s) also; it does seem at first like it must be a mistake, because that one seems kind of "over the edge" - but, ultimately, I wouldnt' put it past Leonard to do that one deliberately either; in terms of meaning, then, it could imply that not only can she touch his body with her mind, but she can touch his mind with her mind, & then manipulate, or "move", his mind in order to touch his "body " with it - like she is "remote-controlling" his mind (kind of like remote-viewing - hey, that's part of your name, isn't it?!)!

It's also interesting (albeit more obvious) how he sometimes changes "trust" to "find" - the change is more obvious to hear, but the meaning doesn't seem more obvious to me - what would it mean for them, at this point, to find each other, given that they clearly already know each other? I'm thinking perhaps it has to do with them finding the true essence/deepest part of each others' beings; because you can know someone for a very long time, & suddenly feel, with or without reason or provocation, that you really don't know them at all, that the person you've known, or even lived with, for years, is really a "stranger"; in fact, I've come to feel that MOST of the time, if you really look at it, we are all really strangers to each other - it's a very "strange " feeling, but I think it's true - to what extent can any of us really know another person's mind or heart?

I have no idea who the scholars are, or where they are (lol); maybe they will "find" us!
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remote1
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby remote1 » Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:24 am

holydove wrote:Remote1, yes, I was struck more pointedly by the verse with the two "your"(s) also; it does seem at first like it must be a mistake, because that one seems kind of "over the edge" - but, ultimately, I wouldnt' put it past Leonard to do that one deliberately either; in terms of meaning, then, it could imply that not only can she touch his body with her mind, but she can touch his mind with her mind, & then manipulate, or "move", his mind in order to touch his "body " with it - like she is "remote-controlling" his mind (kind of like remote-viewing - hey, that's part of your name, isn't it?!)!
Of course, "For she's touched your perfect body with your mind", could simply be describing a fantasy. Still beautiful! :D
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holydove
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby holydove » Sat Feb 27, 2010 5:50 pm

remote1 wrote:
Of course, "For she's touched your perfect body with your mind", could simply be describing a fantasy. Still beautiful! :D
Good point, remote1 - could be a fantasy - I like that! And I agree, beautiful either way!

Also, just for the record, I watched Isle of Wight again last night, because I was pretty sure I'd heard him change one pronoun in that performance of Suzanne, but I couldn't remember which one; turns out, the one he changed is in the last verse; instead of "and you want to travel with her", he says "and you want to travel with HIM" (even though this is a Suzanne verse, not the Jesus verse") - perhaps he is emphasizing the Suzanne/Jesus analogy here - what an interesting way to convey the message!

Also interesting to note, I thought - that he was doing these changes as far back as 1970.
Michel_Griffin
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Re: Who touched whose mind. . .

Postby Michel_Griffin » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:07 pm

Has anybody noticed that the line about minds touching bodies may be an echo - conscious or unconscious - of the opening line of an e e cummings poem, which starts "Lady, i will touch you with my mind." It's impossible that Leonard, poet as he was, would not have read ee cummings. Especially the erotic poems, of which this is number XVII. Of course, he made the phrase his own, by adding "perfect body". The poem is quite short, so I'll quote it here:

Lady,
I will touch you with my mind.
Touch you and touch and touch
until you give me suddenly a smile,
shyly obscene
(lady I will touch you with my mind).
Touch you, that is all,
lightly and you utterly will
become with infinite care
the poem which I do not write.

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