From MTV Unplugged (Live In Melbourne), out now on Milk! Records, Marathon Artists and Mom+Pop.
Courtney Barnett is great. Leonard Cohen is great. What’s not to love?
Like many of Cohen’s best songs, “So Long, Marianne” makes longing feel palpable. And Barnett gets to the heart of that.
Your letters they all say that you’re beside me now
Then why do I feel alone?
I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web
Is fastening my ankle to a stone.
Marianne, of course, was a real person. Cohen met her on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960 after her husband had abandoned her and her infant son. She and Cohen stayed together throughout much of the decade and she inspired many of his songs.
On her deathbed in 2016 Cohen sent her a note that went viral after he died a few months later. “I’m just a little behind you, close enough to take your hand,” he wrote. “I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty. But you know that.”
From Songs of Leonard Cohen (Columbia, 1967).