Sincerely, Leonard Cohen

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Leonard Cohen"Well my friends have gone, and my hair is grey and I ache in the places that I used to play."
The opening lines of Tower of Song 1988.

In the early nineties I was struck by a song I heard a woman singing on the radio. These lines stuck in my head:

“So you treated some woman to a flake of your life/and when she returned, she was nobody’s wife” (Famous Blue Raincoat).

A scene of infidelity and double betrayal so neatly wrapped up. My jaw dropped when I found out Leonard Cohen had written it and that the original line was “you treated my woman to a flake of your life” this perspective gave the lines even more weight than before.

Since then I have been a late but huge fan. Here is a stunning version of the “Sisters of Mercy” from his 1967 debut Album The Songs of Leonard Cohen. That album also features “So long Marrianne” written for his muse Marrianne Ihlen. It has some of the most otherworldly backing vocals ever recorded. He wrote her this letter a few weeks before she died of leukaemia at 81 in July of this year -

“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 for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

Thank you Leonard.

Check out Leonard Cohen in the library catalogue.

Leonard Cohen

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