Leonard Cohen has paid tribute to his long-time muse Marianne Ihlen, who inspired the song "So Long Marianne". Marianne passed away last week on July 28, 2016 after being diagnosed with leukemia less than a week before.
On Cohen's Facebook page he asked that the letter to him from Jan Christian Mollestand be used as a memorial. Mollestad is currently working on a film about Marianne's life.
Leonard asked that this letter to him from Jan Christian Mollestad be used in this memorial:
Marianne slept slowly out of this life yesterday evening. Totally at ease, surrounded by close friends.
Your letter came when she still could talk and laugh in full consciousness. When we read it aloud, she smiled as only Marianne can. She lifted her hand, when you said you were right behind, close enough to reach her.
It gave her deep peace of mind that you knew her condition. And your blessing for the journey gave her extra strength. Jan and her friends who saw what this message meant for her, will all thank you in deep gratitude for replying so fast and with such love and compassion.
In her last hour I held her hand and hummed Bird on a Wire, while she was breathing so lightly. And when we left he room, after her soul had flown out of the window for new adventures, we kissed her head and whispered your everlasting words
So long, Marianne"
From Kari Hesthamar, author of So Long Marianne - A Love Story and Marianne's friend:
"The first time I met Marianne was just after her birthday in May 2005. I still remember how she stood and waited for me by the side of the road and waved me down to her little house by the sea. Bustling around to make me comfortable, she offered warm slippers, a sheepskin to sit on - and Greek coffee. We sat and talked for hours at the kitchen table that day. A few days before, she'd sent me a postcard that said, "I believe we can make something wonderful together." I came to share that belief at that first meeting, and thus began the radio documentary "So Long, Marianne," which would bind us together from that spring day until the last day.
Listening to Leonard Cohen's songs, it feels as though he's singing precisely to you. Marianne had that gift: she made you feel that you were seen; she made you become a better version of yourself. With her eye for beauty, she made everything around herself beautiful. I remember how she put together a simple salad or an omelette, the light-footed, dancing way she moved, the laughter and the gravity. She spoke of how love doesn't end. Relationships end, people die, but the love you have received remains within you, a foundation to be built upon.
Some years ago she took an old lamp from her garage and gave it to me. It's a floor lamp that she bought in the '60s, with three arms and glass shades. When I light the lamp each evening I think of Marianne and how she chose to open her heart and tell her story. I will always be grateful for that."
From Sylvie Simmons, author of I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen
"The first time I met Marianne, she was in her seventies and yet she seemed ageless, almost childlike in her openness and curiosity. The last time we met, she cooked my favourite meal and we read the I-Ching into the night. Marianne came from a time when women were raised to be muses and helpmates, which she was; she loved creative men and she was creative herself. Her life was not the easiest, but nothing seemed to dent her generosity and kindness. A truly beautiful soul."
Jan Christian Mollestad, who is completing a biographical film about Marianne, offers this video celebrating Marianne's 80th birthday last year on Hydra, including Adam Cohwb singing "So long, Marianne" in Oslo and Marianne and Judy Collins singing "Famous Blue Raincoat."