“When [Leonard Cohen] wrote [‘Come On, Marianne’], for me it was like, ‘Come on, if we can just keep this boat afloat.’ And then we found out that we could not.” Marianne


Come On/So Long, Marianne

In researching the Marianne Variations,1 I came upon this heartrending comment by Marianne herself about the recording of Songs Of Leonard Cohen in I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons (Ecco: 2012):

 

By this point, Leonard was cutting his sixteenth take of “Suzanne” as well as a song titled “Come On, Marianne.”

 

quoteup2
I thought it always was ‘Come on, Marianne, it’s time that we began to laugh and cry,’ but – unless I’m dreaming – there was a group in California, maybe the Beach Boys, who had similar words in a song. When he wrote it, for me it was like, ‘Come on, if we can just keep this boat afloat.’ And then we found out that we could not.

 

Marianne

 

It turns out that Leonard had congruent feelings about “So Long, Marianne:”

 

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I began [So Long, Marianne] on Aylmer Street in Montreal and finished it a year or so later at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. I didn’t think I was saying goodbye but I guess I was.2

 

Leonard Cohen

 

 

Of course, “Come On, Marianne” was released as “So Long, Marianne,” the classic Leonard Cohen song about leaving – not restoring – a relationship. Leonard’s self-observation about his songwriting is enlightening:

 

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There’s a certain kind of writer that says hello to people in their songs and there’s a certain kind of writer that says goodbye to people – and you know I’m more a writer of elegies, at least in that particular phase.3

 

Leonard Cohen

 

 

Was It The Beach Boys Marianne Remembered Singing “Come On, Marianne” Or Was It…?

While it’s a secondary point, I was taken with Marianne’s recall of a group from the same era with “similar words in a song.” I couldn’t find any songs by the Beach Boys or other California groups released during that time with words close to “Come on, Marianne, it’s time that we began to laugh and cry,” but a 19674 hit by the iconic New Jersey group, The Four Seasons, fits that description,

“C’mon Marianne,” written by L. Russell Brown and Raymond Bloodworth and popularized by The Four Seasons, hit #9 on the charts in June, 1967.5 The lyrics follow:

Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Whoa-ho-ho here I am on my knees again
I’ll do anything just to make it right
Say you’ll understand, oh I know you can, c’mon Marianne

No matter what people say, it didn’t happen that way
She was a passing fling and not a permanent thing
Say you’ll understand, oh I know you can

C’mon Marianne, c’mon Marianne
C’mon Marianne, say you can understand
My Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Well now your big brown eyes are all full of tears
From the bitterness of my cheatin’ years
So I hang my head, wish that I was dead

C’mon Marianne, c’mon Marianne
C’mon Marianne, say you can understand
My Marianne
C’mon Marianne, c’mon Marianne
Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Marianne
Marianne
Marianne

The Four Seasons – C’mon Marianne

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 July 19, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.

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  1. The Marianne Variations comprises posts devoted to the major recurring variations of Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne” []
  2. From “Some Notes On The Songs” on back cover of The Best of Leonard Cohen album (1975) []
  3. From I’m Your Man: The Life Of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons (Ecco: 2012) []
  4. “So Long, Marianne” was a track on the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album released December 27, 1967 []
  5. “C’mon Marianne” was, in fact, the final US Top Ten hit for The Four Seasons in the 1960s. []

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