The Marianne Variations Summary Page: The Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

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So Long, Marianne Redux

The Marianne Variations is a series of posts devoted to the major versions of “So Long, Marianne” by Leonard Cohen.

Since its release on Leonard Cohen’s first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), “So Long, Marianne” has been on the setlist at hundreds of concerts and, as is true of many of Cohen’s songs, has been performed with many variations from the original album rendition. Often these are minor additions, deletions, or substitutions such as “I climbed this whole mountainside” being sung as “I climbed this goddamned whole mountainside”1 or “pretty” being replaced with “beautiful.” In some shows, verses have been skipped, either intentionally or in error.

In other cases, however, the changes are clearly deliberate. The first line, for example, of the printed lyrics of “So Long, Marianne” from Songs Of Leonard Cohen is “Come over to the window, my little darling” while the first line of the lyrics of the version from Field Commander Cohen is “Won’t you come over to the window, my little darling.” (There are several such minor variations between the two album renditions.)

Moreover, the musical arrangements and Cohen’s own singing style fluctuate. During the 1988 and 1993 Tours, for instance, Cohen often rendered the song in a raspy voice, sometimes shouting out the words while most performances during the 2008-2013 Tours were melodious, sometimes almost sweet sounding.

Cataloging every variation and permutation is, in any case, beyond the scope of these posts. Instead, the focus is on the different versions that are both significant enough to alter the experience of this classic and are clearly not only intentional but planned alterations as evidenced, for example, by lyrics printed in a Leonard Cohen songbook or album liner notes or by a number of performances in which a specific set of lyrics have appeared. At least four distinct versions meet these criteria:2

  1. The “If You Leave Where Will I Keep You Then?” Version
  2. The “Your Eyes” Version
  3. The “Here Comes Marianne” Version
  4. The “Here Comes Marianne” + “Your Eyes” Version
  5. The 4/4 Version3

Each of these versions is discussed and a recorded example of that variation is provided in one of the posts in this series.

A recording of the first released version is provided for future comparisons.

The Original Version Of So Long, Marianne From Songs Of Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne
Songs Of Leonard Cohen

The Marianne Variations: Posts

  1. The Marianne Variations: Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne (Introduction)
  2. Leonard Cohen’s “Your Eyes” Version Of So Long, Marianne
  3. Leonard Cohen’s “If You Leave Where Will I Keep You Then?” Version Of So Long, Marianne
  4. Leonard Cohen’s “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version Of So Long, Marianne
  5. Leonard Cohen’s Most Divergent & Devastating Version Of So Long, Marianne (“Here Comes The Morning Boat” + “Your Eyes”)
  6. The Marianne Variations Supplement: Leonard Cohen’s 4/4 Version of So Long, Marianne 
  7. So Long, Marianne Composite Video – 7 Verses

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  1. See Now Online – Video Of “So Long Marianne” From First Leonard Cohen Lissadell House Concert []
  2. The names used to designate these versions have been arbitrarily based on the first line of the added lyrics. []
  3. Time Signature Variant rather than a Lyrics Variant []

4 thoughts on “The Marianne Variations Summary Page: The Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

  1. Rosalind Van Zaig

    Dear Leonard, As you celebrate your special birthday, I wish you much good health, peace and happiness as you journey into the next decade. You are a voice for the people with your thoughts, vision and sensitivity. I have always appreciated your kindness when living at 599. With warm regards, Rosalind Van Zaig

    Reply

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