Master Song

Album: Songs Of Leonard Cohen (1967)
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Songfacts®:

  • According to Judy Scott, author of Leonard, Marianne, and Me, "Master Song" could be about John Starr Cooke, a spiritual guru who was friends with Cohen's girlfriend, Marianne Ihlen, subject of another song on the album, "So Long, Marianne." When Cohen and Ihlen were living together in Montreal, they had a falling out, and Ihlen left for Mexico, where she stayed with Cooke. Cohen called, asking her to return, and she did.

    Matters of love drove much of Cohen's works, and it is especially acute here. In Scott's interpretation, Cooke is the "master," a title often bestowed on mystics and guru types.
  • "Master Song" is part of Cohen's first album, Songs Of Leonard Cohen. By this point, Cohen had already published various books of poetry and a novel called Beautiful Losers. The album was modestly successful but gained more followers in later decades as Cohen's music entered the popular fray. Released on Columbia Records and recorded at their studios in New York City, the album was re-issued in 2007.
  • Cohen offered an opaque explanation of this song when he performed it on the BBC in 1968, saying, "It's about the Trinity. Leave that for the scholars. It's about three people."

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