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

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

Update: A 4/4 Version of “So Long, Marianne,” a Time Signature Variant rather than a Lyrics Variant, has been added.

The ensuing posts in this series will focus on 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

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted July 14, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric.


  1. See Leonard Cohen’s Profoundly Moving Performance Of So Long Marianne – Sligo 2010 []
  2. The names used to designate these versions have been arbitrarily based on the first line of the added lyrics. []

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