So Long, Marianne

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"So Long, Marianne"
Song by Leonard Cohen
from the album Songs of Leonard Cohen
GenreFolk rock
Songwriter(s)Leonard Cohen

"So Long, Marianne" is a song written by Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen. It was featured on his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. Pitchfork Media placed it at number 190 on their list of "The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s."[1]


The song was inspired by Marianne Jensen, born Marianne Ihlen, whom Cohen met on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960.[2] She had recently been left by her husband,[3] the Norwegian writer Axel Jensen, leaving her and their six-month-old son alone on the island. The two hit it off, and Cohen ultimately took her from Hydra back to her home in Oslo, Norway. He later invited her and her son to live with him in Montreal, an offer which she accepted.[2] The two lived together throughout the 1960s, commuting between New York, Montreal, and Hydra.

Cohen dedicated his third volume of poetry, Flowers for Hitler, to her, and she directly inspired many of his other songs and poems. A photo of her appears on the back cover of his second album, Songs from a Room.

Marianne Ihlen died in hospital in Oslo on 28 July 2016, aged 81.[4][5] Cohen wrote to her shortly before her death, saying: "Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine... Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road."[6] He died three months later, on November 7.

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by Beck, Noel Harrison, John Cale with Suzanne Vega, Straitjacket Fits, Brian Hyland, James, Bill Callahan, Russian Red and others, including Cohen's own son, Adam Cohen. In 1984 it became a hit in the Dutch Top 40 sung by José Hoebee, ex-singer of Luv' and TV host Ron Brandsteder.

Adam Cohen and The Webb Sisters performed the song at the 2017 Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen concert.[7]


Chart (2016) Peak
France (SNEP)[8] 28
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[9] 38
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[10] 50


  1. ^ Pitchfork Media Staff (August 14, 2006). ""The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s"". Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Retrieved April 13, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Marianne and Leonard: Interview with Marianne Ihlen by Kari Hesthamar, Norway, 2005", Retrieved 6 August 2016
  4. ^ Leonard Cohen official Facebook page. Retrieved 29 July 2016
  5. ^ Octavio Lopes, "Marianne Ihlen (1935-2016)", Correio de Manha, 6 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016
  6. ^ Collins, Pádraig (August 7, 2016). "So long, Marianne: Leonard Cohen writes to muse just before her death". The Guardian. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  7. ^ "Watch Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen on Wednesday, January 3 on CBC". CBC Arts, December 29, 2017.
  8. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Singles Téléchargés - SNEP (Week 46, 2016)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  9. ^ " – Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  10. ^ " – Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 21 November 2016.