Richard Manuel Singing "Lonesome Suzie"
by Bill Zavatsky

I'll say something stupid: I know just how you feel; just how you must have felt. Twice I heard you "live," and way back then, and sensed it then, too: the fall from self-confidence into self-contempt...

Tonight, hearing you sing "Lonesome Suzie" on the record, I wonder how you could destroy your life by hanging from the throat that made that voice? I shake my head and think: How could you not? The gorgeous pang of every note you stretched and pulled, sliding along the gravel of your "man's" voice into the falsetto of the "woman inside" who is always ready to burst into song, or to shriek. And right now, for a few minutes, I am carried along by your voice as I am borne by the twists and loops of my own penmanship, all the little nooses from which I've been hanging for years! All the deathless, useless loops of ego!

Now that I've written a little page, I want to stop my own voice, too. See what I mean? I told you that I know just how you feel, with your voice crying that way in the wilderness of the l96Os, the l99Os, any time anyone puts the needle on, as you sing to the Lonesome Suzie that must have been inside you--that hurt girl part of me, too, I would hope to touch with song, but don't know if I can. In this late night, I take your voice for my friend, as you sing that I should, and follow it like something lighted moving into the dark--into my own sorrow. Not to stand on some awful chair, in some dark, lonely motel, and fall with a chain around my neck into darkness, but to keep singing, as best as I am able, hanging on to the line of your good strong sorrowed voice.

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