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

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, 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.

Photo: Marianne’s Son, Axel Joachim Jensen, With Bjorn Saastad, Hydra 1976

Dominique BOILE writes

On February 4, 2016, Marianne Ihlen sent me this photo with the message, “Here is a photo of Axel Joachim and the Norwegian Painter Bjorn Saastad. Axel Joachim was about 16 years old. Hydra 1976.”

Axel Joachim Jensen is the son of Marianne Ihlen and Axel Buchardt Jensen, the Norwegian author. After Axel Jensen left Marianne and Hydra, Axel Joachim lived with Marianne and Leonard Cohen for several years.  For more about Axel Joachim, see Marianne, Hydra And The Love Affair With Cohen – Now In English

Hear BBC Radio Panel: So long, Marianne: Leonard Cohen bids farewell to his muse

From BBC description:

Leonard Cohen’s muse Marianne Ihlen, whom he wrote about in So Long, Marianne and Bird on a Wire, died in Norway on 29 July, aged 81.

Just before she died, a friend contacted Leonard Cohen to let him know the end was near. Less than two hours later a message came back, which her friend read to her.

Art critic Anita Sethi and Telegraph chief music critic Neil McCormick, who has interviewed Leonard Cohen, discussed the message Cohen sent to Ihlen and the broader significance of the muse in the history of art.

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Sharon B, who alerted me to this program