Category Archives: Leonard Cohen

The Marianne Variations: Leonard Cohen’s Most Divergent & Devastating Version Of So Long, Marianne – New Video Of 1993 Oslo Rendition

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Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

This is the final entry1 in The Marianne Variations, a series of posts devoted to the major recurring variations of Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne” that significantly differ from the versions found on the Songs Of Leonard Cohen and Field Commander Cohen albums. An introduction and links to all published posts in this series as well as the inclusion criteria and the original version of “So Long, Marianne” from the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album can be found at The Marianne Variations Summary Page.

The “Here Comes The Morning Boat” + “Your Eyes” Version of So Long, Marianne

No rendition of “So Long, Marianne” differs more from the original script than the one Leonard Cohen performed at the May 1, 1993 Oslo Spektrum Concert. This version features not only a radically altered arrangement but also two verses not found on any album.

“Here Comes The Morning Boat”

The introduction, sung by Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen, was first performed (by the same two backup vocalists) as the song’s conclusion during the 1988 Tour:2

Here comes the morning boat,
Here comes the evening train,
Here comes Marianne now,
To wave goodbye again.3

“Your Eyes”

The song’s concluding verse, all of which is sung by Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen with one line also spoken by Leonard Cohen, follows:

Your eyes,  I forget your eyes
Your body’s at home in every sea,
You gave your news to everyone
You said was a secret just for me

This verse, with minor changes, was printed in the booklet for the 1975 Best Of Leonard Cohen (aka Greatest Hits) album but was not found on the recording itself:4

Oh your eyes, well I forgot Your eyes
Your body’s at home in every sea.
How come you gave away your news to everyone
That you said was a secret for me.

Variations of this verse were performed at the April 3, 1972 Stockholm show and the April 6, 1972 Frankfurt concert:5

Oh Tonight, I know I’m gonna forget tonight (Stockholm)
Ah your eyes, oh how could I forget your eyes (Frankfurt)
Your body’s at home in every sea.
How come you gave away your news to everyone
That you said was a secret for me.

In 1972, however, Cohen sang the verse himself, as he also did in at least one 2009 show.6

Update:  From Perla Batalla’s Facebook Page:

At soundcheck Leonard wanted to try the song with Julie and I singing a couple of verses. When we performed it we got very emotional. It was a magical night! And Leonard was on fire! You can hear him feeding us verses we had never sung before. Goosebumps listening to this.

The 1993 Version Of The Gift Of A Golden Voice

Finally, Cohen’s voice in the Oslo show is strikingly different from the original  version and even more so from the performances during the 2008-2013 Tours. Cohen stridently speaks as much as sings the words.7

The impact of these multiple changes and adaptations is dramatic.

Video: So Long, Marianne – Oslo 1993

Although no live videos or even photos of this concert are to be found online, the show was broadcast on FM radio, and a high quality recording of that broadcast  serves as the soundtrack of the video. Augmenting the music are photos which predominantly feature Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen, and backup singers, Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen.8 Also included are a few shots of the other musicians from the 1993 Tour.9

Leonard Cohen – “So Long, Marianne”
Oslo Spektrum: May  1, 1993
Video by Allan Showalter

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  1. “Final entry” already requires qualifications. Even before the official completion of The Marianne Variations series, Lennard Torbijn of the Netherlands has astutely pointed out a Leonard Cohen rendition of “So Long, Marianne” that meets criteria as a distinct version although it does not fit the characteristic pattern of those revisions thus far included in The Marianne Variations group. That version will be posted later in a supplement to The Marianne Variations. []
  2. A discussion of this version and a live video of a 1988 performance can be found at Leonard Cohen’s “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version Of  So Long Marianne []
  3. Note: At some point in the process of recording Songs Of Leonard Cohen, “So Long, Marianne” was titled “Come On, Marianne.” (Source: I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Ecco: 2012)  While the existence of the same verb in the title of that early iteration and in the third line of this verse added in 1988, “Here comes Marianne now,”  is certainly insufficient evidence of a connection between the two versions, the possibility exists that the 1988 line is a vestigial remnant of lyrics written twenty years earlier or that both lines share a common precursor. (More about “Come On, Marianne” in a later post.) []
  4. Source: GuitareTab.  In addition, another verse is also listed in the booklet but not included on the recording:

    If you leave, where will I keep you then
    In my heart as some men say
    But I who was born to love everyone
    Why should I keep you so far away? []

  5. Source: Leonard Cohen Prologues []
  6. A discussion of this version and a live video of the 2009 performance can be found at Leonard Cohen’s ‘“Your Eyes” Version Of “So Long Marianne” []
  7. The 1993 version would not be a good fit with the audience karaoke “So Long, Marianne” singalongs that took place in the 2008-2013 tours that have earned the crowd a “You sing so pretty” accolade from Leonard Cohen. []
  8. Note: Most of the performance photos are from 1993, but some were taken during the 1988 Tour, during which Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen also served as vocalists. []
  9. 1993 Tour Musicians:

    Leonard Cohen – vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar
    Perla Batalla – vocals
    Julie Christensen – vocals
    Bob Metzger – guitars, pedal steel guitar
    Bob Furgo – keyboards, violin
    Paul Ostermayer – keyboards, saxophone, flute
    Bill Ginn – keyboards
    Jorge Calderon – bass
    Steve Meador – drums

    Source: Jim Devlin’s Is This What You Wanted []

The Marianne Variations: Leonard Cohen’s “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version Of So Long, Marianne

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Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

This is the fourth of five entries in The Marianne Variations, a series of posts devoted to the major recurring variations of Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne” that significantly differ from the versions found on the Songs Of Leonard Cohen and Field Commander Cohen albums.  An introduction and links to all published posts in this series as well as the inclusion criteria and the original version of “So Long, Marianne” from the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album can be found at The Marianne Variations Summary Page.

The “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version Of So Long Marianne

Often the variations in this classic Cohen song have been relatively minor, comprising, for example, the substitution of a single word for another or a verse being skipped. In 1988, however, an entire stanza, sung by backup vocalists, Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen, appeared de novo as the song’s final verse:

Here comes the morning boat,
Here comes the evening train,
Here comes Marianne now,
To wave goodbye again.

Note: At some point in the process of recording Songs Of Leonard Cohen, “So Long, Marianne” was titled “Come On, Marianne.”1 While the existence of the same verb in the title of that early iteration and in the third line of this verse added in 1988, “Here comes Marianne now,”  is certainly insufficient evidence of a connection between the two versions, the possibility exists that the 1988 line is a vestigial remnant of lyrics written twenty years earlier or that both lines share a common precursor. (More about “Come On, Marianne” in a later post.)

Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne
San Sebastian: May 20, 1988
The pertinent verse begins at 2:44
Video from AmericaSings

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  1. I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons. Ecco: 2012 []

The Marianne Variations: Leonard Cohen’s “If You Leave Where Will I Keep You Then?” Version Of So Long, Marianne

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Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

The Marianne Variations is a series of posts devoted to the major recurring variations of Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne” that significantly differ from the versions found on the Songs Of Leonard Cohen and Field Commander Cohen albums. An introduction and links to all published posts in this series as well as the inclusion criteria and the original version of “So Long, Marianne” from the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album can be found at The Marianne Variations Summary Page.

The “If You Leave Where Will I Keep You Then?” Version Of So Long, Marianne

The following stanza, not heard on the “So Long, Marianne” track of the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album (released Dec 27, 1967) but printed in the Songs Of Leonard Cohen Songbook and booklet from the Leonard Cohen Greatest Hits (aka The Best Of Leonard Cohen) album, is the final stanza of the rendition recorded in Paris in Spring 1968 and broadcast on BBC2 TV in 1968 (for information about Leonard Cohen’s 1968 BBC Sessions, see Best Bootlegs: Leonard Cohen Live At The BBC):

If you leave where will I keep you then?
In my heart, as some men say.
And I, who was born to love everyone,
Why should I keep you so far away?

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne
London BBC: 1968
The pertinent verse begins at 6:40
Video from messalina79

The Marianne Variations: Leonard Cohen’s “Your Eyes” Version Of So Long, Marianne

your-eyes-i-forget-your-eyes

Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

The Marianne Variations is a series of posts devoted to the major recurring variations of  Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne” that significantly differ from the versions found on the Songs Of Leonard Cohen and Field Commander Cohen albums. An introduction and links to all published posts in this series as well as the inclusion criteria and the original version of “So Long, Marianne” from the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album  can be found at The Marianne Variations Summary Page.

The “Your Eyes” Version Of So Long Marianne

The following verse is listed in the booklet from Leonard Cohen Greatest Hits (aka The Best Of Leonard Cohen) although it is not performed on the “So Long, Marianne” track on that album:1

Oh your eyes, well I forgot your eyes
Your body’s at home in every sea.
How come you gave away your news to everyone
That you said was a secret for me.

Performances featuring this verse (with some variations) first took place during the 1972 Tour, including the April 3, 1972 Stockholm show and the April 6, 1972 Frankfurt concert:2

Oh Tonight, I know I’m gonna forget tonight (Stockholm)
Ah your eyes, oh how could I forget your eyes (Frankfurt)
Your body’s at home in every sea.
How come you gave away your news to everyone
That you said was a secret for me.

Similar lyrics would also turn up in other Tours, including 1993 and, happily, at a 2009 concert filmed by Albert Noonan.  In this instance, the following lines appeared as the penultimate verse:

Your eyes, I will forget your eyes
Your body is at home in every sea
How come you gave away your news to everyone
I thought you said it was a secret just for me

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne
San Jose: Nov 13, 2009
The pertinent verse begins at 2:20
Video by albertnoonan

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  1. Source: GuitareTab.  In addition, another verse is also listed in the booklet and also not performed on the album (more about it later):

    If you leave, where will I keep you then
    In my heart as some men say
    But I who was born to love everyone
    Why should I keep you so far away? []

  2. Source: Leonard Cohen Prologues []

The Marianne Variations: Leonard Cohen’s Recurring Revisions Of So Long, Marianne

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So Long, Marianne Redux

The Marianne Variations is a series of posts devoted to the major versions of “So Long, Marianne” by Leonard Cohen. This introduction and links to all published posts in this series can be found at The Marianne Variations Summary Page.

Since its release on Leonard Cohen’s first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), “So Long, Marianne” has been on the setlist at hundreds of concerts and, as is true of many of Cohen’s songs, has been performed with many variations from the original album rendition. Often these are minor additions, deletions, or substitutions such as “I climbed this whole mountainside” being sung as “I climbed this goddamned whole mountainside”1 or “pretty” being replaced with “beautiful.” In some shows, verses have been skipped, either intentionally or in error.

In other cases, however, the changes are clearly deliberate. The first line, for example, of the printed lyrics of “So Long, Marianne” from Songs Of Leonard Cohen is “Come over to the window, my little darling” while the first line of the lyrics of the version from Field Commander Cohen is “Won’t you come over to the window, my little darling.” (There are several such minor variations between the two album renditions.)

Moreover, the musical arrangements and Cohen’s own singing style fluctuate. During the 1988 and 1993 Tours, for instance, Cohen often rendered the song in a raspy voice, sometimes shouting out the words while most performances during the 2008-2013 Tours were melodious, sometimes almost sweet sounding.

Cataloging every variation and permutation is, in any case, beyond the scope of these posts. Instead, the focus is on the different versions that are both significant enough to alter the experience of this classic and are clearly not only intentional but planned alterations as evidenced, for example, by lyrics printed in a Leonard Cohen songbook or album liner notes or by a number of performances in which a specific set of lyrics have appeared. At least four distinct versions meet these criteria:2

  1. The “If You Leave Where Will I Keep You Then?” Version
  2. The “Your Eyes” Version
  3. The “Here Comes The Morning Boat” Version
  4. The “Here Comes The Morning Boat” + ‘“Your Eyes” Version

Each of the next four posts in this series will focus on one of these versions and provide a recorded example of that variation. Today, a recording of the first released version is provided for future comparisons.

The Original Version Of So Long, Marianne From Songs Of Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne
Songs Of Leonard Cohen

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  1. See Now Online – Video Of “So Long Marianne” From First Leonard Cohen Lissadell House Concert []
  2. The names used to designate these versions have been arbitrarily based on the first line of the added lyrics. []

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More information about the album at Update: Anjani Thomas’s New Album – I Came To Love