“I went to Greece and I stayed there for the next eight years. I’d never been in a sunny place and I’d never known what the sun was; so I fell in love with the sun, and a blonde girl, and a white house.” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen: The Romantic In A Ragpicker’s Trade by Paul Williams (Crawdaddy, March 1975). Photo by Marie-louise Guillard.

Ray Charles & Marianne – “Still companions of the heart / as I measure myself once more / against the high sweet standards / of my youth” Leonard Cohen 1978

While not as well known as his poem, “Days of Kindness,” Leonard Cohen’s “Much Later” from Book Of Longing also evocatively describes his days with Marianne, in this case, listening to Ray Charles in sun-drenched Hydra.

Much Later
From Book Of Longing by Leonard Cohen

Ray Charles singing You Win Again
in the sunlight
twenty years ago
Ray Charles the singer I would never be
and my young wife
‘the wife of my youth’
smiling at me from an upstairs room
in the old house
Ray Charles and Marianne
dear spirits of my Greek life
now in the sunshine of every new summer
Marianne coming down the steps
‘the woman of the house’
Ray Charles speaking fiercely
for our virgin humanity
Twenty years ago
and again in this Hollywood summer
still companions of the heart
as I measure myself once more
against the high sweet standards
of my youth

– Los Angeles 1978

The Cars Of Leonard Cohen: Driving Miss Marianne – In Her Late 1950s Karmann Ghia

This is the third entry in , a series of posts about Leonard Cohen’s actual automobiles, those metaphorical cars he employed in his songs, and his thoughts about cars.

Driving Miss Marianne: Karmann Ghia

Note: The photo atop this post is a 1958 Karmann Ghia, but not the Karmann Ghia owned by Marianne that is featured in this post.

Leonard Drives Marianne From Greece To Oslo

You even drove [Marianne] from Greece back home to Norway?

Yes in her little Karmann Ghia, and she liked to drive fast, and I didn’t like to drive that fast, but anyway, we got there, and, yes we drove from Athens to Oslo. That was a wonderful drive. Although I remember us quarreling a lot. I don’t know whether it was about the driving or not, but I do remember that it was quarrels that arose. But they were healed because we’d stop at some little Italian cafe and have pasta and a bottle of wine or some cheese and bread, and we’ d get over it.

From Leonard Looks Back On The Past, an interview with Leonard Cohen by Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005 (Unedited interview for the Norwegian Radio). Found at LeonardCohenFiles [bolding mine].

More About Marianne’s Volkswagens

Marianne’s automotive history, with and without Leonard Cohen, is intriguing. According to So Long, Marianne: A Love Story by Kari Hesthamar (ECW Press; June 10, 2014), in 1957, Marianne and Axel Jensen purchased a “secondhand blue Volkswagen Beetle” in Hamburg en route to Greece. Shortly thereafter, they spun out on ice in Yugoslavia, extensively damaging the vehicle and necessitating repairs before they could continue their journey. Then, in 1959, they traveled to Stockholm where  they used the revenue from the publication of Axel’s novel, Line, they purchased a “beige Karmann Ghia with light brown leather upholstery.” Some time later, Axel’s lover, Patricia, was driving this car in Athens when, dodging a cart in the road, she wrecked it, injuring herself severely. This was the Karmann Ghia that transported Leonard and Marianne to Oslo. Before Leonard and Marianne left Greece, they had the car checked out, at which time, they discovered – by accidentally meeting the original owner – that the Karmann Ghia was fitted with a Porsche motor.

All posts in this series will be collected at when they go online.

Credit Due Department: Photo atop post by Sicnag – 1958 Volkswagen Type 14 Karmann Ghia front view, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Suzanne Elrod (Mother Of Adam & Lorca Cohen) On Leonard Cohen’s Mother: “She was [Leonard Cohen’s] most dreamy spiritual influence. The only thing that bothered me was that she always called me Marianne.”

From left: Adam Cohen, his mother Suzanne Elrod, his father Leonard Cohen & Leonard’s mother Masha Cohen – Montreal 1972 . Posted Feb 13, 2014 by Adam Cohen at Leonard Cohen Facebook page

From The Face May Not Be Familiar, but the Name Should Be: It’s Composer and Cult Hero Leonard Cohen by Pamela Andriotakis & Richard Oulahan. People: January 14, 1980.

Note: Originally posted Dec 30, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s Devastating Description Of His Reaction To Marianne’s Death

How affected did you get when Marianne Ihlen passed away?

The way any heartless son of a bitch
is affected by
the relentless amputation of his past.

Leonard Cohen


From the original questionnaire (in English) for Le Dernier Empereur by J.D. Beauvallet and Pierre Siankowski (Les Inrocks: Oct 19, 2016) forwarded to me on Oct 16, 2016 by Leonard Cohen.

In Memory Of Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen’s Muse

One year ago (July 28, 2016), Marianne Ihlen, immortalized in “So Long, Marianne,” died. She was a frequent visitor to Cohencentric and much beloved by readers. A few posts featuring her from this and other sites follow:

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