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

marianne-cat-hyrdraNote: In the two days after Leonard Cohen’s death was announced on Nov 10, 2016, this video was viewed more than 90,000 times. That kind of response makes the 1993 Oslo performance of So Long, Marianne  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”

The song’s concluding verse, all of which is sung by Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen with one line also spoken by Leonard Cohen, follows:

Your eyes, I forget your eyes
Your body’s at home in every sea,
You gave your news to everyone
You said was a secret just for me

This verse, with minor changes, was printed in the booklet for the 1975 Best Of Leonard Cohen (aka Greatest Hits) album but was not found on the recording itself:3

Oh your eyes, well I forgot Your eyes
Your body’s at home in every sea.
How come you gave away your news to everyone
That you said was a secret for me.

Variations of this verse were performed at the April 3, 1972 Stockholm show and the April 6, 1972 Frankfurt concert:4

Oh Tonight, I know I’m gonna forget tonight (Stockholm)
Ah your eyes, oh how could I forget your eyes (Frankfurt)
Your body’s at home in every sea.
How come you gave away your news to everyone
That you said was a secret for me.

In 1972, however, Cohen sang the verse himself, as he also did in at least one 2009 show.5

Update: From Perla Batalla’s Facebook Page:

At soundcheck Leonard wanted to try the song with Julie and I singing a couple of verses. When we performed it we got very emotional. It was a magical night! And Leonard was on fire! You can hear him feeding us verses we had never sung before. Goosebumps listening to this.

The 1993 Version Of The Gift Of A Golden Voice

Finally, Cohen’s voice in the Oslo show is strikingly different from the original version and even more so from the performances during the 2008-2013 Tours. Cohen stridently speaks as much as sings the words.6

The impact of these multiple changes and adaptations is dramatic.

Information about other recurring versions of “So Long, Marianne” and the original version from the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album can be found at The Marianne Variations Summary Page.

Video: So Long, Marianne – Oslo 1993

Although no live videos or even photos of this concert are to be found online, the show was broadcast on FM radio, and a high quality recording of that broadcast serves as the soundtrack of the video. Augmenting the music are photos which predominantly feature Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen, and backup singers, Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen.7 Also included are a few shots of the other musicians from the 1993 Tour.8

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

Note: Originally posted July 18, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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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.) []
  3. Source: GuitareTab. In addition, another verse is also listed in the booklet but not included on the recording:

    If you leave, where will I keep you then
    In my heart as some men say
    But I who was born to love everyone
    Why should I keep you so far away? []

  4. Source: Leonard Cohen Prologues []
  5. A discussion of this version and a live video of the 2009 performance can be found at Leonard Cohen’s ‘“Your Eyes” Version Of “So Long Marianne” []
  6. The 1993 version would not be a good fit with the audience karaoke “So Long, Marianne” singalongs that took place in the 2008-2013 tours that have earned the crowd a “You sing so pretty” accolade from Leonard Cohen. []
  7. Note: Most of the performance photos are from 1993, but some were taken during the 1988 Tour, during which Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen also served as vocalists. []
  8. 1993 Tour Musicians:

    Leonard Cohen – vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar
    Perla Batalla – vocals
    Julie Christensen – vocals
    Bob Metzger – guitars, pedal steel guitar
    Bob Furgo – keyboards, violin
    Paul Ostermayer – keyboards, saxophone, flute
    Bill Ginn – keyboards
    Jorge Calderon – bass
    Steve Meador – drums

    Source: Jim Devlin’s Is This What You Wanted []

3 Replies to “Video: Leonard Cohen’s Most Passionate Version Of So Long, Marianne – Oslo 1993”

  1. Violeta

    So long, Leonard….The only thing that today give us a little bit confort,thinking at Leonard Cohen, is that he can walk hand in hand with Marianne singing: It’s time that we began to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.
    Thanks Allan to remember us!

  2. Klaus Offermann

    Stunning – Leonard backed up by the best two vocalists ever to do so.
    This version brought tears to my eyes – much need..
    Thank you Allan.