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Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne (1967)

Leonard CohenSo Long, Marianne

Lyrics

Won’t you come over to the window, my little darling
I’d like to try to read your palm
You know I used to think I was some kind of gypsy boy
Before I let you take me home

So long, Marianne, it’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again

Well you know, I love to live with you
But you make me forget so very much
I forget to pray for the angels
And then the angels forget to pray for us

So long, Marianne, it’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again

How we met when was it, we were almost young
Was down by the green lilac park
You held on to me like I was a crucifix
As we went kneeling through the dark

So long, Marianne, it’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again

So long, Marianne, it’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again

For now I need your hidden love
I’m cold as a new razor blade
You left when I told you I was curious
I never said that I was brave

So long, Marianne, it’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again

Oh, you are really such a pretty one
I see you’ve gone and changed your names again
And just when I climbed this whole mountainside
To wash my eyelids in the rain!

So long, Marianne, it’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again
Oh, oh, so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again

So Long, Marianne

is a song written by Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen. It was featured on his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. Pitchfork Media placed it at number 190 on their list of “The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s.”

The song was inspired by Marianne Jensen, born Marianne Ihlen, whom Cohen met on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960. She had recently been left by her husband, the Norwegian writer Axel Jensen, leaving her and their six-month-old son alone on the island. The two hit it off, and Cohen ultimately took her from Hydra back to her home in Oslo, Norway. He later invited her and her son to live with him in Montreal, an offer which she accepted. The two lived together throughout the 1960s, commuting between New York, Montreal, and Hydra.

Cohen dedicated his third volume of poetry, Flowers for Hitler, to her, and she directly inspired many of his other songs and poems. A photo of her appears on the back cover of his second album, Songs from a Room.

Marianne Ihlen died in hospital in Oslo on July 28, 2016, aged 81. Cohen wrote to her shortly before her death, saying: “I’m just a little behind you, close enough to take your hand. […] I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty. But you know that. […] Safe travels old friend. See you down the road. Love and gratitude.” He died three months later, on November 7.

Cover versions

The song has been covered by Beck, Noel Harrison, John Cale with Suzanne Vega, Straitjacket Fits, Brian Hyland, James, Bill Callahan, Russian Red, Courtney Barnett, and others, including Cohen’s own son, Adam Cohen. In 1984 it became a hit in the Dutch Top 40 sung by José Hoebee, ex-singer of Luv’ and TV host Ron Brandsteder.

Adam Cohen and The Webb Sisters performed the song at the 2017 Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen concert. Courtney Barnett performed the song in her 2019 MTV Unplugged performance.

A Love Story

Marianne Ihlen was 23 years old when she arrived on the Greek island of Hydra. Leonard Cohen immortalised her in the song “So long, Marianne.” The story begins in the 1950s, in Oslo, a town marked by jazz and a budding youth rebellion. Together with her boyfriend Axel Jensen, Marianne runs away to Greece and lands on the island of Hydra, where a few international artists have already congregated, and they are soon joined by Göran Tunstrøm. Axel and Marianne buy a small white washed house where Axel Jensen amongst other stories writes his novel Line. After a couple of years Axel leaves the island, Marianne and their six months little son, for another woman.

One day Marianne was in the village shop with her basket waiting to pick up bottled water and milk, a dark man is standing in the doorway with the sun behind him. He is saying: “Would you like to join us, we’re sitting outside?” It is Leonard Cohen. He calls her the most beautiful woman he has ever met. Cohen drives her home from Greece to Oslo. Later she receives a telegram from Montreal: “Have house. All I need is my woman and her son. Love Leonard.” Shortly afterwards she goes to Canada with her little boy. Cohen, Marianne and “little Axel” live together during the 60s, and commute between Montreal, New York and Hydra.

Cohen dedicated his collection of poetry, Flowers for Hitler, to her. He has written many of his most famous poems and songs inspired by Marianne.

leonard cohen sheet music pdf
leonard cohen sheet music pdf

Leonard Cohen’s poems, songs and sheet music available from our Library.

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