2002 The Perfect Song Leonard Cohen article by Ian Mc Culloch

The perfect song

Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen)

Sunday February 3, 2002
The Observer

For me, the perfect song is ‘Suzanne’, by Leonard Cohen. The perfect lyric with the perfect melody. I can’t see a fault in it. The first time I heard it, I thought, ‘Whoaa.’ I was about 14 or 15 and I’d seen the Bird on a Wire documentary about him at the pictures. He was so cool and it was my kind of music and I went straight out to get his albums. Then I went back to my mum’s house and waited for it to get dark before I played them. That song is just so instant. It goes through my soul; it’s like that bit in Poltergeist when the mother’s coming down the stairs and she feels this rush of this kid’s spirit going through her. It’s great when a song just comes at you like that.

Now ‘Suzanne’ really reminds me of Canada, I think he must’ve written it while he was still there. There’s a certain vibe in Canada that’s so different from America; I mean it’s only a border away, but I love that Canadian thing. It’s great. I suddenly start feeling like Leonard Cohen when I go there.

Meeting him really lived up to expectations. I’ve met the top four now: Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Iggy and Lou Reed. They have been the guiding lights in my life. Leonard was the one I met last and I crumbled, I was so nervous. It was a crowded hotel bar and Elvis Costello was there. I don’t know how many pints I’d had when Leonard Cohen walked in. I said ‘Elvis lad, he’s here…’ and he said, ‘Well, go and say hello,’ and I said, ‘I can’t, I’m really nervous,’ and he said, ‘Go ‘ead, you’ll regret it if you don’t.’ So, I followed him to the bar and he looked lost, he was in his fifties, his suit was crumpled, but he looked great. And I said, ‘Hello, I think you’re great.’ He was brilliant. He said, ‘Ian, people tell me you’re a great poet,’ and I said, ‘No, you are!’.

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