Leonard Cohen’s Funniest Impromptu Performance: The “Everybody Wants A Long Stem” Floral Fandango Version Of So Long, Marianne

Leonard Cohen & The Roses

Roses feature heavily in Leonard Cohen’s literary work and stage presentations, as well as being a frequent gift from the audience.

Cohencentric has run posts about Leonard’s receipt of roses from admirers

his poem about dining on roses, what he does offstage with roses, roses laid, literally, at his feet, and even roses delivered in a trajectory congruent with that of incoming artillery (and causing a corresponding reaction by the targeted individual), as was the case at the June 14, 2008 Dublin show:



But this is the first post on this site focusing on Leonard Cohen’s fascination with a single rose sans blossom.

The Amsterdam Rose – Stem

If Leonard Cohen had revised the lyrics of “Everybody Knows” to match his floral selection during “So Long, Marianne” at the August 21, 2012 Amsterdam concert, the three well known lines

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
[emphasis mine]

… would have been economically foreshortened to

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem
[emphasis mine]

The video evidence follows. Pay close attention to Cohen’s employment of flowers starting about 30 seconds into the song.

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne
Amsterdam: Aug 21, 2012
Video by


Yes, indeed, Leonard Cohen chooses to enhance one of his most heartbreaking songs by introducing into the staging a single, long stem, blossom-free rose.

And, not content with simply selecting and holding that stage prop, he proceeds to fix his deepest, most soulful gaze – the one he reserves to signal moments of intensity during songs of depth such as “Hallelujah” – upon that green peduncle, never missing a beat as he performs the song.

He does, however, crack up not only the audience but also the usually ultra-focused Sharon Robinson.

Roscoe Beck also appears amused.

While Cohen campaign veterans Beck and Robinson seem tickled, the predominant feeling in the aspect of the initially perplexed Alex Bublitchi (then in his sixth concert backing Cohen) would seem to be relief.

The Origin Of The Amsterdam Rose Stem

Although not present in Amsterdam, Beatriz Salles is privy to and shares the back story of the rose stem.

Ongoing readers may recall Beatriz Salles and Meritxell Cardelus, stalwart members of the Spanish Cohen Brigade, from the account of their procurement and distribution of candles to the audience at the 2010 Marseille show on Mr Cohen’s 76th birthday. They are pictured below prior to that concert with Ms Cardelus holding a bouquet of roses, each individual flower bearing, one notes, a significant blossom.

It turns out, in fact, that Meritxell Cardelus has a well-earned reputation for finding gorgeous roses to present as a gift to Leonard Cohen at each of his concerts she attends. She, along with Beatriz, were disappointed to discover that the venue for the 2012 Ghent concerts featured a gap between the audience and the stage approximately the size of the Korean DMZ, precluding their hope of placing their flowers on the stage.

Determined to achieve this goal at the Amsterdam show, Meritxell prepared the flowers for launch, gathered herself, mustered her strength, focused on the target, and successfully hurled the roses onto the platform where Cohen would perform.

Then, as seen on the video, the Canadian singer-songwriter carefully selected one rose – the only one that had lost its bloom in transit.

The rest is history – and a great performance.

Credit Due Department: The the close-up photo of Leonard Cohen holding a rose beside his face, is by Gwen Langford. The photo of Meritxell Cardelus and Beatriz Salles is attributed to Meritxell Cardelus and forwarded to Cohencentric by CHEMA. All other images are screen captures from the video.

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Aug 25, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com.

Leave a Reply