Leonard Cohen Identifies Voice In Night Comes On As “My Mother’s True Voice”

I went down to the place where I knew she lay waiting
Under the marble and the snow
I said, Mother I’m frightened, the thunder and the lightning
I’ll never come through this alone
She said, I’ll be with you, my shawl wrapped around you
My hand on your head when you go
And the night came on, it was very calm
I wanted the night to go on and on
But she said, go back, go back to the world

From Night Comes On by Leonard Cohen

AL: In the song “Night Comes On,” I guess it’s the mother who asks the son to return to the world … That’s my interpretation.
LC: That’s right.

AL: What is the voice that made you return to the world? Is she spiritual? Material? Sexual or Sensual?
LC: This is probably my mother’s true voice.

AL: Masha. You remembered and you went back into the world, you came back to us.
LC: The voice of my mother in my life – she died a few years ago – remains the wisest,

AL: wisdom?
LC: Wisdom. A wisdom not sublime, not exalted, not …

AL: something quiet, peaceful?
LC: Quiet and practical, pragmatic.


Meeting with Leonard Cohen – Interview by Albert Labbouz  Translation and adaptation: Dr. Marc Gaffié (Patrice Clos: “Throughout the conversation, Leonard spoke mainly in French but also in English. It is this synthesis of the two languages ​​that was absolutely necessary.”) Paris, June 29, 2001. Published in French; this excerpt via Google Translate.

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

Photo: Leonard Cohen At Family Wedding – 1956

In 1950, Masha, Leonard’s mother, married Harry Ostrow,a pharmacist, who was described by David Cohen, Leonard’s cousin, as “a very sweet, ineffectual man, a nice guy.”1 The relationship between Leonard and his stepfather was characterized as “pleasant but distant.”2 Shortly after the marriage, Harry Ostrow was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,3 a discovery that seemed to dishearten Masha, who had nursed Nathan, her first husband through his debilitating illnesses. By 1957, Harry and Masha had separated with Harry moving to Florida.

Update: See “He was extremely charismatic with a wonderfully clever and quick sense of humour.” Roz Van Zaig, Leonard Cohen’s Stepsister, Talks About Leonard, Esther, & Masha

The above photo  was taken at the wedding of Roz Ostrow Van Zaig and Eddie Van Zaig,

Back row, from left to right: Harry Ostrow (Leonard’s stepfather), Freda Guttman, Roz Ostrow (Leonard’s stepsister), Eddie Van Zaig, Leonard Cohen, Victor Cohen (brother-in-law). Front row, from left to right: Masha Cohen Ostrow (Leonard’s mother ), Esther Cohen (Leonard’s sister)

Photo found at Various Positions by Ira Nadel. Originally posted Oct 12, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons []
  2. I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons []
  3. Various Positions by Ira Nadel []

Leonard Cohen On His Mother’s Reaction To His Career Choice

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

Was your mother disappointed because you did not choose a proper profession [rather than singer-songwriter]?

Disappointed? She was in despair and convinced I could not survive in the world out there.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Man Bleibt Ein Absoluter Anfaenger by Christoph Dallach and Marianne Wellershof. Der Spiegel: 10/1/2001 (40, 2001). Found & translated into English by Rike

6 Photos: Leonard Cohen & His Mother, Masha

From I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons

Courtesy of Leonard Cohen


All posts dealing with Leonard Cohen’s mother can be found at