The Enduring Mysteries Behind 10 Great Love Songs

A few weeks back, we looked at the true stories behind some of our favorite love songs. It’s always fascinating to hear a definitive account of what inspired one of your favorite tunes, but it can be equally enthralling to try to puzzle it out on your own. And, of course, in some cases that’s all you can do, because it may well be that the songwriter in question isn’t providing any answers. So it goes with these tunes, which are all the more fascinating because of the mystery surrounding exactly who they’re about.

Leonard Cohen — “Famous Blue Raincoat”

The identities of some of the real-life people in Cohen’s songs have been well-documented — Janis Joplin in “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”, artist Suzanne Verdal in “Suzanne.” Others, however, remain enigmatic. There are a bazillion theories about the identities of the people involved in the love triangle described in “Famous Blue Raincoat,” one of Cohen’s greatest songs — the closing “Sincerely, L. Cohen” seems to imply that the singer himself is one, but the others? No one really knows apart from Cohen himself, and he’s not telling — not apart from some cryptic liner notes to his 1975 best-of compilation, anyway. And so the mystery remains: maybe there’s a real Jane out there, and maybe she was only ever a work of fiction. Either way, it’s hard not to be curious.