We once wanted to be Leonard Cohen—so much so that we attended his alma mater in Montreal. Sightings of the late Canadian music and literary legend, never one to turn down a dram or his own angst, weren’t uncommon on Saint Laurent Boulevard. The last time we saw him, he looked so much older than he does in a fawning new documentary.
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love explores Cohen’s ill-fated 1960s romance with Marianne Ihlen, the Norwegian who inspired one of his most famous songs. Brit filmmaker Nick Broomfield shares footage of the young couple on the Greek island of Hydra, where Cohen bought a house before launching his music career.
Let’s drink to when it’s over, and let’s drink to when we meet*
Cohen, who died in 2016, soon after Ihlen, was a poet and singer-songwriter of vast talent and influence. What made his distinctive voice so deep and rough? “About, you know, 500 tons of whiskey and, you know, a million cigarettes,” he told NPR’s Terry Gross in a 2006 chat.
Charley and Hattie Webb, Cohen’s former backup singers, shared his pre-concert rituals with the Independent. “There’s a whole array of beverages and we often have a whisky,” the sisters said. “Leonard loves a whisky. He used to have to drink three bottles of wine before going on stage because of nerves. Now it’s just a whisky.”
In the 1990s, Cohen became a Zen Buddhist monk whose practice included knocking back $300** Scotch with his Japanese master, The Nation reports. Both of them could not be wrong.🥃
*With apologies to Leonard Cohen’s “A Street”
**All dollar figures in USD