Leonard Cohen has joined Marianne

Troubadour of Gloom dies

Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential singer and songwriter, has died at the age of 82.

Cohen released his final album You want it darker in October 2016.

His evocative songs, sung in his deep bass voice over five decades, have left lingering memories for millions who mourn his passing.

In a letter to his publisher in 1960 he said that he was out to reach “inner-directed adolescents, lovers in all degrees of anguish, disappointed Platonists, pornography-peepers, hair-handed monks and Popists”.

Canadian born Cohen living in London in 1960, grew tired of the depressing damp and darkness of England and headed for the sun soaked Greek island of Hydra.

You are going to meet a man who speaks with a tongue of gold

marianne

On the island of Hydra, Cohen caught glimpses of a beautiful Norwegian woman called Marianne Ihlen whose grandmother had told her that “she was going to meet a man who speaks with a tongue of gold”.

Marianne became the inspiration for Bird on the Wire, Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye and So Long, Marianne.

Marianne and Cohen stayed in touch for the rest of their lives. They exchanged letters and e-mails. When they spoke to journalists and to friends of their love affair, it was always in the fondest terms.

I think I will follow you very soon

In late July this year, Cohen received an e-mail from a close friend of Marianne’s, saying that she was suffering from cancer. In their last communication, Marianne did not tell Cohen that she was sick. It turned out that she had only a few days left.

Cohen wrote back immediately:

“Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

So long Marianne…

Two days later, Cohen got an e-mail from Norway:

“Dear Leonard, Marianne slipped slowly out of this life yesterday evening. Totally at ease, surrounded by close friends. Your letter came when she still could talk and laugh in full consciousness. When we read it aloud, she smiled as only Marianne can. She lifted her hand, when you said you were right behind, close enough to reach her. It gave her deep peace of mind that you knew her condition. And your blessing for the journey gave her extra strength. . . In her last hour I held her hand and hummed Bird on the Wire while she was breathing so lightly. And when we left the room, after her soul had flown out of the window for new adventures, we kissed her head and whispered your everlasting words. So long, Marianne . . .”

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