Leonard Cohen, “Two Very Different Mariannes,” & Suzanne Elrod On Hydra – Excerpts & Photos From Leonard, Marianne, and Me: Magical Summers On Hydra By Judy Scott

“It did not take long for Leonard to recognize that I was more attracted to Marianne than I was to him, though I came to love him too in the end.”

Judy Scott


Judy Scott visited Hydra many times from 1973 onward and became enmeshed in its  expatriate community, recording her experiences in notebooks and journals which form the basis of this memoir. While the following selections from her book focus on Leonard and Marianne, her account also features many other colorful inhabitants of the Greek island. The resulting volume offers an enlightened sense of what it meant to live in Hydra in the 1970s – a delight for those interested in Leonard Cohen and Marianne.

Origins Of Hallelujah Lyric

Leonard Cohen on terrace of his home on Hydra – 1973. Photo by J Scott.

Marianne also told me about the derivation of a lyric in what would become Leonard’s most famous and most covered song, “Hallelujah”:

She tied you to a kitchen chair,
she broke your throne and she cut your hair
and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah…

It was in the context of a discussion we had about the difficulties Marianne had with their relationship. She told me Leonard just couldn’t refuse any request made by a female. She said she thought it all originated in his rather complicated relationship with his mother. She was a very imposing and important person in his life. Marianne said that Leonard confessed to her that when he was a young child, his mother would insist on cutting his hair. When he got a little older and tried to refuse, she would use one of his father’s neckties to tie him to a chair in their kitchen and snip away. Then she’d tell him that, like Samson in the bible, Leonard was completely in her power and would have to do anything she asked of him. Marianne was pretty sure that was why he succumbed so easily to female imprecations. He just couldn’t say no. And also why he sought to escape from relationships as often as he did. He just couldn’t stay put. It was an example of the dilemma we all experience in love: constantly seeking a balance between acquiescence and resistance.

“Two very different Mariannes”

Marianne celebrating her birthday on Hydra – 1973 (not included in book). Photo by J Scott.

[Leonard] also told me…that there were “two very different Mariannes”: a loving, considerate, maternal, sober one and an unpredictable, impulsive—even a little bit crazy one when drunk. I had no problem believing him. I’d unquestionably witnessed both. I do remember another conversation I had with Leonard about Marianne, where he told me that although he had lived with Marianne several different places, Montreal and New York, most prominently, the only place he really experienced her as a muse, was on Hydra. “I don’t think I ever wrote a song that was inspired by her, unless we were here together on Hydra,” he said. “Here it just seemed to be a natural extension of the place itself. Anywhere else, even when she tried to encourage me, or inspire me, it didn’t work.”

Suzanne Elrod

Suzanne Elrod and Adam Cohen on Hydra – 1975. Photo by J Scott.

I spent a fair amount of time with Suzanne and, though I tried to like her, I found her to be a very cold and vain person. At one point, she said to me, regarding the children, “I’m really not that into being a mother. Leonard is far more interested in the children than I am.” I remembered from that first summer in 1973 Leonard saying of her: “I don’t think she knows how to be a mother.” At the time there was only Adam, who was then two, and Marianne had answered, “Send him to me then. I’ll take care of him.” 


Leonard, Marianne, and Me: Magical Summers on Hydra by Judy Scott is scheduled for release July 1, 2021, and is available for pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other booksellers.

2 thoughts on “Leonard Cohen, “Two Very Different Mariannes,” & Suzanne Elrod On Hydra – Excerpts & Photos From Leonard, Marianne, and Me: Magical Summers On Hydra By Judy Scott

  1. Thanks Allan,
    I haven’t read this book.
    It was interesting to read about the relationship of those “Hallelujah” words.

  2. Hello Allen,
    I am debating ordering this book. I am torn. I have this fascination with Leonard, and admiration although in truth, I didn’t really know who he was until just recently and I have no idea how I missed knowing about him and his awesome music. I feel I really missed out, but as I listen to his music and watch his videos I have formed an impression of him that is of an awesome person. Kind, sensitive and a gentleman at all times. Even as an old man he had such magnetism.

    Thank you for publishing all that you have. Please continue. My only complaint is that I find it very disrespectful when I see ads for memorabilia that in no way benefits his memory but is only for personal gain. I delete those posts and block the sender.

Leave a Reply