We met when we were almost young

I heard a lot of Leonard Cohen’s music as I was growing up.  He was one of my mother’s favourites: my father always said Leonard Cohen’s music was music to slit your wrists to, but my mother listened nonetheless.

Some of his music and lyrics are morose.  Some his music is hauntingly beautiful and will bring a tear to your eye. 

Earlier this month I read the heartbreaking note that Leonard Cohen, who is now eighty years old, wrote to his onetime lover and muse Marianne Ihlen shortly before she died from leukaemia on July 29th this year. 

Cohen met Marianne Ihlen on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960.  They lived together for nearly a decade and Ihlen was the inspiration for one of Cohen’s most famous songs ‘So Long Marianne’.  I invite you to listen if you don’t know it.  My favourite lyric is “ we met when we were almost young ”.

Marianne Ihlen’s friend contacted Cohen in July to inform him that she only had days to live.  Leonard Cohen responded a couple of hours later with the following letter:

“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.”

The simplicity, grace and romanticism of his lyrics and of the letter makes one marvel at the beauty and depth of feeling in his words and at the profundity of his love. 

That’s unless you know that Leonard Cohen had many lovers and many muses throughout his lifetime.  Marianne was not even the only muse and lover to make it to the back of an album cover.  Those of you who know his music will know that Suzanne was also immortalised in his beautifully captivating lyrics. 

Let me introduce you to Suzanne:

So, I think it is probably quite clear that Leonard Cohen’s songs Suzanne and So Long Marianne are not actually about his lovers and muses Suzanne and Marianne.  These songs and lyrics were about Leonard Cohen and how he saw himself within the world.

Let’s not be bitter though.  I would be happy to be a disposable lover and muse if I could be immortalised in such enchanting poetry. 

Leonard Cohen … if only we met when we were almost young. 

Rhyming with Wine
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


  1. August 30, 2016 / 6:54 am

    I LOVE blog posts about music. As it can be such a personal subject with regards to taste, I never know whether I should post them, despite always wanting to in the past. You’ve inspired me to go ahead with a music orientated post I’ve had in mind for a while now! Thank you! I’ve not had chance to listen to the songs yet but will definitely pop back to do so. I love all types of music so am keen to give these a listen. Thank you for sharing. #fartglitter
    Jaki recently posted…Blogging and meMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 31, 2016 / 8:56 pm

      HI Jaki,

      Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  2. August 30, 2016 / 6:56 pm

    Oh my word! I can’t say that I’m familiar with his music, but that piece of writing honestly brought a tear to my eye. So enchanting and poignant. I can only imagine how moving this must have been to receive. “I just want to wish you a very good journey” will haunt me in the most beautiful way forever now. Thank you for sharing x #fartglitter

    • thesingleswan
      August 31, 2016 / 8:56 pm

      My pleasure! I am glad that you enjoyed it =. Pen x

  3. September 1, 2016 / 7:52 pm

    His note to Marianne brought a tear to my eye. How beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing

    • thesingleswan
      September 1, 2016 / 7:55 pm


      I know. His note was stunning. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  4. September 1, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    Amazing music, truly haunting and beautiful. I’d never heard these before but I’ll definitely be looking for more. Loved the note to Marianne, so simple. Thanks for sharing. #bloggerclubuk

    • thesingleswan
      September 2, 2016 / 9:29 pm

      My pleasure. Thanks for reading and for commenting. Pen x

  5. September 2, 2016 / 7:04 pm

    Oh my god that is beautiful , his letter, so moving , thanks for sharing ! #brillblogposts

    • thesingleswan
      September 2, 2016 / 9:24 pm

      My pleasure. Pen x

  6. October 1, 2016 / 9:18 pm

    I love the words he wrote so moving and heartfelt #KCACOLS xx

    • thesingleswan
      October 2, 2016 / 9:20 pm

      I love them too. He is a proper wordsmith. pen x

  7. October 1, 2016 / 11:40 pm

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing! I had never heard of him before! #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      October 2, 2016 / 9:16 pm

      My pleasure. Pen x

  8. October 2, 2016 / 2:50 pm

    I never heard about this singer but I really like it! It must be the romantic in me! I will play it to my partner and say it’s our song! Well, it could be, or kind of! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.

    • thesingleswan
      October 2, 2016 / 9:13 pm


      I am glad you enjoyed it. All the best. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      October 2, 2016 / 9:12 pm

      Hi Jenni,

      I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      October 2, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      Hi Claire,

      thanks for your comment. Enjoy your discovery of Leonard Cohen. Pen x

  9. October 2, 2016 / 7:33 pm

    Loved your post, really cool and interesting. I thought his letter had a slightly flippant air to it? just me and my cynicism? Good to discover your blog Xx #kcacols

    • thesingleswan
      October 2, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      Hi Anne,

      I am glad you have discovered my blog! I hadn’t considered that his letter might have a flippant air, but yes, I guess you could be right. Pen x

  10. October 3, 2016 / 8:10 am

    I’m currently reading one of his poetry books (what a coincidence). He’s a great writer and I must admit, I love poetry and songs written with grace and depth, they mean so much more #KCACOLS
    Alex Fihema recently posted…Primrose Hill, Magic, and a Sand BoxMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 3, 2016 / 8:17 pm

      Oooh, interesting. I have never read any of his poetry. I will take a look. Pen x

  11. October 4, 2016 / 2:53 pm

    Interesting story and a nice change of pace from most of what I’ve been reading this morning. Thanks for sharing #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      October 8, 2016 / 10:22 pm

      Good. Glad you liked it. Pen x

  12. December 18, 2016 / 12:15 am

    I have read those lines to Marianne many times in the last few weeks. My heart lifts always. Jo
    Jo recently posted…Santa’s coming to townMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      December 22, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      Ditto. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

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