July 28, 2016: Marianne Ihlen, Immortalized In “So Long, Marianne,” Dies


Marianne Ihlen, the woman immortalized in “So Long, Marianne” and the woman in Leonard Cohen’s life through the 1960s, died July 28, 2016 after being diagnosed with leukemia less than a week earlier.

Leonard Cohen’s Final Farewell To Marianne

Two days before Marianne’s death, Leonard sent her this message

So Long, Marianne

This is an especially moving version of Leonard Cohen’s classic song about his separation from Marianne.

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne
Oslo Spektrum: May 1, 1993
Video by Allan Showalter

First Aid Kit’s Moving Leonard Cohen Tribute: So Long, Marianne

First Aid Kit’s version of Leonard Cohen’s So Long, Marianne is more an evocative tribute than a respectful cover. It opens with the refrain from Who By Fire and incorporates the letter Leonard wrote Marianne just before her death (Marianne died July 28, 2016) and Leonard’s poem, You’d Sing Too, from Book of Longing. It is a well crafted, resonant commemoration of Leonard, Marianne, and the music,.

First Aid Kit – So Long, Marianne (Leonard Cohen cover)
Live @ Dramaten, Stockholm: March 14, 2017

First Aid Kit officially includes sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg along with an instrumentalist or two. As the YouTube description notes “On stage singing in addition to Klara and Johanna Söderberg were Nina Zanjani and Maia Hansson Bergqvist from Dramaten, Maja Francis, Annika Norlin, Loney ear, Jesper Lindell, Frida Hyvönen and Adolf Fredriks föräldrakör. In the orchestra were Sebastian Ring, Anna Lund, Daniel Wejdin, Malin Ahlberg, Karolina Weber Ekdahl, Karin Liljenberg, Tomas Ebrelius and Charlotta Weber Widerström.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Maria Cohen Viana, who alerted me to this video.

Video: Leonard Cohen Sings "So Long Marianne" With Marianne In Audience – Langesund 2009

Marianne At Lonard Cohen’s Langesund Show

This is not a video with great production values. As the cameraperson notes, “Sorry for the all the drunk people singing.” But how could anyone who knows anything about Leonard Cohen pass up the chance to watch him sing “So Long Marianne” to a concert audience that includes Marianne herself?1

Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne
Langesund: July 16, 2009

Note: Originally posted Jul 19, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Basic information about Leonard Cohen and his relationship with Marianne can be found at Leonard Cohen – The Literary Years. []

Video – Leonard Cohen Talks About His Life On Hydra: Why He Came, How He Met Marianne, Writing Books & Songs There …

I met a girl and I stayed for eight or ten years.
Yeah, that’s the way it was in those days.

Leonard Cohen

“This was the laboratory of my youth”

In this video, excerpted from the 1988 film Songs From The Life Of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen, accompanied by his backup singers Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen, revisits the home in Hydra that he shared with Marianne of So Long Marianne  In addition to a discussion of his life on Hydra, this clip includes performances  of Who By Fire, Bird On The Wire, So Long Marianne, Partisan, and Famous Blue Raincoat.

Glen Hansard Covers So Long Marianne & Famous Blue Raincoat With Javier Mas In Leonard Cohen Tribute – Antwerp

Glen Hansard, alog with Cohen’s guitarist Javier Mas, performed So Long Marianne and Famous Blue Raincoat as a tribute to Leonard Cohen in De Roma in Antwerp, Belgium on Nov 18, 2016

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Most Passionate Version Of So Long, Marianne – Oslo 1993

marianne-cat-hyrdraNote: Since Leonard Cohen’s death was announced the evening of Nov 10, 2016 until now. this video has been viewed more than 70,000 times. That kind of response makes this performance the obvious choice for today’s spotlighted video.

The “Here Comes The Morning Boat” + “Your Eyes” Version of So Long, Marianne

No rendition of “So Long, Marianne” differs more from the original script than the one Leonard Cohen performed at the May 1, 1993 Oslo Spektrum Concert. This version features not only a radically altered arrangement but also two verses not found on any album.

“Here Comes The Morning Boat”

The introduction, sung by Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen, was first performed (by the same two backup vocalists) as the song’s conclusion during the 1988 Tour:1

Here comes the morning boat,
Here comes the evening train,
Here comes Marianne now,
To wave goodbye again.2

“Your Eyes”

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  1. A discussion of this version and a live video of a 1988 performance can be found at Leonard Cohen’s “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version Of So Long Marianne []
  2. Note: At some point in the process of recording Songs Of Leonard Cohen, “So Long, Marianne” was titled “Come On, Marianne.” (Source: I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Ecco: 2012) While the existence of the same verb in the title of that early iteration and in the third line of this verse added in 1988, “Here comes Marianne now,” is certainly insufficient evidence of a connection between the two versions, the possibility exists that the 1988 line is a vestigial remnant of lyrics written twenty years earlier or that both lines share a common precursor. (More about “Come On, Marianne” in a later post.) []