Years ago, as I set in a theater watching the movie Pirate Radio, I feel in love with the song So Long Marianne by Leonard Cohen. I was sure I had heard the song before, as it had a familiar feeling to it, but maybe I hadn’t. Maybe it was just one of those songs you instantly connect with and feel comfortable with, like an old friend, regardless, it was the song that made me pick up my first Cohen album, and my first book of his poetry . I fell in love with both.
The song immortalizes Marianne Ihlen, whom Cohen met on the Greek Island of Hydra in 1960. They went on to have a love affair throughout the 60’s, and he made her his muse.
Marianne Ihlen, died on July 28 after a short battle with Leukemia, and though Cohen has written several songs about her, nothing holds up like So Long Marianne.