Whither Thou Goest – The Best Leonard Cohen-Anjani Duet You (Probably) Haven't Heard

Leonard Cohen and Anjani Duet

Leonard Cohen & Anjani Perform1 Whither Thou Goest

While I had planned to upload the songs from Anjani’s 31 March 2007 Warsaw Concert (See next section, Heck Of A Guy Coverage Of Anjani’s Warsaw Concert for more information) yesterday, it took longer than expected for me to access the files.

Upon consideration, I’ve decided to now post only one musical offering, Whither Thou Goest. The other songs are, in my estimation, wonderful, but they are wonderful versions of tracks on the readily available Blue Alert album.

Whither Thou Goest, however, is not on any album2 although it was often used by Cohen,3 who sang it a capella with other band members, as a concluding benediction to many of the concerts of his 1988 and 1993 tours.4

A more tactical and pertinent motivation to post only this song is to avoid detracting attention from this piece.5 It is a quiet affirmation of affection and commitment which could be obscured by more dynamic productions – and it shouldn’t have to compete in such an arena.6 The impact of “I love you deeply and will be with you wherever you go and whatever happens” is not enhanced by being shouted.

The lyrics of Whither Thou Goest are derived from Ruth 1:16-17, which is the brave and loving vow Ruth, a widow, makes to follow Naomi, who had been her mother-in-law, even though that meant leaving her own country and family.7 The King James Version of that scripture with Ruth’s pledge follows:

16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

This canticle, its intonations a particularly good fit with Cohen’s voice and phrasings, has been resurrected for the current concert tour with Cohen joining Anjani on stage for this final song.

And, although Whither Thou Goest continues to serve as a farewell blessing to the audience, now it is also a strikingly tender and paradoxically intimate love song between the two musicians.

Leonard Cohen and Anjani – Whither Thou Goest

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DrHGuy-Anjani Flirtation, Leonard Cohen Adulation , & Anjani’s Warsaw Concert Coverage

The road to the Heck Of A Guy Warsaw Concert posts began last July when I wrote a heartfelt, adoring review of Blue Alert.

In addition to an erudite musicological analysis, that post also included references (also heartfelt and adoring as all get-out, if arguably tinged with a tad of smart-aleckedness) to the nature of the relationship between “Lenny & Anji,” the similarity between my serendipitous discovery of the Blue Alert album and the blind date that led to the catastrophe known as my first marriage, and my fantasy of simultaneously bedding Anjani and two other female singers.8

I became a tad anxious when I noticed that the first comment to that post was from Anjani herself. As it turned out, however, Anjani, naturally enough, was smitten by my epistolary charm, and there ensued an cyber-exchange of bantering repartee, provocative challenges and parries, sexual innuendo, and general all-around snarkiness, in which Anjanikins gave as good as she got. The dramatic arc and the pertinent posts are described in Anjani And DrHGuy FAQ.

The second necessary element is the series of posts on Leonard Cohen I’ve sporadically published under the oddly appropriate Leonard Cohen category heading. Because the important material about his life and work was already obsessively covered by the uber-fans of the web-ring sites dedicated to Leonard Cohen, my blog entries have typically focused on isolated, tangential – or confabulated – points. Characteristic examples from this group include the use of Cohen’s music in movies about strippers, the Dance Me To The End Of Love video starring Quentin Tarantino, Cohen singing Elvis’s Rolls Royce and my personal favorite, 10 Fake Items About Leonard Cohen.

A rare (i.e., nonexistent) photo of Leonard Cohen, Elvis Presley, and Elvis's Rolls Royce.

I had also written about my odyssey tracking down the rare recording of Cohen’s Do I Have To Dance All Night, AKA The Best Leonard Cohen Song You’ve (Probably) Never Heard. That post attracted the attention and interest of Apolinary POlek, that self-same individual who was the Heck Of A Guy Polish Connection for this Concert (see below). Simple, eh?

Today’s post is part of the sequence of Heck Of A Guy blog entries dealing with the Leonard Cohen Presents Anjani concert that took place at the Agnieszka Osiecka Studio in Warsaw, Poland on 31 March 2007 and was broadcast live on Trójka Radio. Apolinary POlek alerted readers to the availability of the broadcast and provided links to photos and a recording of the pre-concert interview with Anjani and Cohen on the Trójka Radio site; he has also graciously shared his recordings of the concert itself.

Previous Leonard Cohen Presents Anjani Posts:

Later Posts

A Request
I would appreciate it if links to the Heck Of A Guy blog identified it by name and used the post’s permalink rather than a tinyurl or some other modified URL. Alternative forms of gratitude and compensation, including cash, negotiable bonds, jewels, precious metals, free lawn care, home-cooked meals, and Italian villas are also acceptable, but offering appropriate credit seems simpler and would be fully satisfactory.

____________________________

  1. Anjani and Anjani Thomas: An Aside On Names: Anjani and Anjani Thomas are, for the purposes of the Heck of a Guy blog, synonymous names, both of which refer to the exotically lovely, dulcet-voiced singer best known for her Blue Alert CD and her long-term relationship with Leonard Cohen. I include this clarification on posts about Anjani-Anjani Thomas in part for the purpose of what the folks at Wikipedia call disambiguation (i.e., to positively identify for the reader and remove any doubts the reader might have about which Anjani of all the possible Anjanis is being discussed) and in part to aid and abet the search engines. While a rose is, famously, a rose is a rose, a “tea rose,” for example, is not exactly the same as a “rose” – especially to a search engine. Searches that include “Anjani” as part of the search terms may not produce the same results as the same search terms other with “Anjani Thomas” substituted for “Anjani.” Should any other Anjani, say one who has not produced a CD called “Blue Alert” or one who has not been associated with Leonard Cohen for the decade, I promise to do my best to make that identification clear as well. []
  2. The statistically accurate but confusingly non-absolute title of this post, The Best Leonard Cohen – Anjani Duet You’ve (Probably) Never Heard references the following: (1) Darn few of us have heard any Leonard Cohen – Anjani duets (Anjani singing backup doesn’t count – because I say it doesn’t count, that’s why), (2) The song featured today has been performed as a Leonard Cohen – Anjani duet only in a few venues and before relatively small audiences (other than the 31 March 2007 performance which was broadcast on Polish radio), and (3) Most folks in those audiences are not likely to read the Heck Of A Guy blog unless they’re slumming. []
  3. This is a correction from the original post. I had thought Leonard Cohen had himself adapted “Whiter Thou Goest” from the referenced scripture in Ruth, but Apolinary POlek, who was my source for this material from the Warsaw concert astutely (and politely) points out that one Guy Singer wrote the lyrics and music in 1954. Among other sources, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whither_Thou_Goest. The correct attribution is made in concert song listing at Boston Performance. Most telling, the lyrics are almost exactly those sung by Cohen and Anjani – see Whither Thou Goest Lyrics. My apologies for the error and my thanks (again) to Apolinary POlek for the correction. []
  4. The lines, “whither thou goest / I will go,” are also found in the lyrics of Ballad of the Absent Mare []
  5. The avoidance of distractions is also the rationale for placing the recap of the Concert’s coverage in the second half of this post although logically, it might be less confusing if it were at the first. []
  6. I suspect the dynamics intrinsic to a live performance maintain an audience’s focus on the singers, especially for the official farewell song, making Whither Thou Goest an effective selection for a concert even though, as one of a group of recordings, without the involvement of senses other than hearing, it could easily be overlooked. This may, in fact, have been a factor in the decision not to include it on earlier albums. The feelings invoked by this song, however, are so intensified by the connection between Cohen and Anjani that it would be a significant loss were it not integrated into a future recording. Just a thought. []
  7. Finally, my Old Testament Survey course I took at Oklahoma Christian College almost 40 years ago is starting to pay off []
  8. The identities of the two other singers became a matter of negotiation between Anjani and me, shifting among permutations of Tanita Tikaram, Holly Cole, Tina Turner, and Joan Jett, among others. []

0 responses to “Whither Thou Goest – The Best Leonard Cohen-Anjani Duet You (Probably) Haven't Heard

  1. Beautiful. Sung tenderly, a thousand kisses deep. Just this is enough. Indeed all we might ask of life.

    Thanks for posting it.

  2. Thank you so much for posting it! :)
    (I heard it 1988 in Stockholm.)