Category Archives: Anjani Thomas

I Came To Love – New CD By Anjani Thomas – To Be Released May 2014

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I Came To Love To Include Three New Songs Co-Written With Leonard Cohen

From Anjani’s website:

I Came To Love, a new release from Anjani Thomas, heralds the next chapter for the accomplished singer-songwriter.  This ten-song collection chronicles the path of the heart through passion, jeopardy, and ultimately love, all revealed through Anjani’s fluid and mesmerizing sound.

Picking up where the critically acclaimed Blue Alert left off, Anjani sets the tone with the album’s title track: i came to love as a novice / with an aim to learn… now I love as a woman / sure of what she sings. With vocal nuances and impeccable phrasing, Anjani establishes a startlingly intimate connection with the listener: she’s not singing to you, she is touching what’s inside of you.

Anjani’s creative partnerships have always been unerringly honed, and it is no exception with the assembly of pros on this recording. Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), acts as producer and percussionist on five tracks, building potent rhythms on “Weather A Storm With You,” and the mysteriously moody “Standing On The Stairs”.  Toronto producers Rob Piltch and Jonathan Goldsmith sync a hypnotic trance groove on “Holy Ground”: my lover stands on holy ground/in a scarred and barren field/where my weakness is revealed/he holds space for me to heal.

“Love In Between” features country music giant Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm) on guitars and fiddle; while renowned flamenco guitarist Pavlo takes a passionate solo turn on “Love Be A River.”  For her longtime fans, Anjani reprises her celebrated musical collaboration with the legendary Leonard Cohen on three new tracks, including “Song To Make Me Still,” a wistful poem sung to meditative piano accompaniment. The album wraps with a touching version of the Les Paul/Mary Ford classic “Whither Thou Goest,” with Cohen as Anjani’s duet partner.

One part biography, one part love letter, one part statement album, I Came to Love is a rich and varied musical journey.  “It took much longer than I expected to finish this record,” Anjani says, because every time I thought it was done, something tipped the balance, which compelled me to keep working until it felt complete again. Leonard told me when we started writing together in 2005 that part of the creative process is allowing for that sense of ‘Ah, now it’s right.”  It can take time for the weak spots to surface; and being patient yielded songs as nurturing to write as they are satisfying to sing. For me, it was worth the wait.”

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Videos & More: Song to Make Me Still & Standing on the Stairs

Videos of live performances of two of the new songs co-written by Anjani & Leonard Cohen, their origins, and their lyrics can be found at Anjani Thomas Performs Two Unreleased Songs Co-written With Leonard Cohen At 2013 Feast Of Cohen

Video: Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas Talk About Their Musical And Personal Relationships

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Originally posted on this site November 15, 2011, this brief (2 minutes) video featuring an interview with Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas by Luce Gauthier and clips from Anjani’s performances seems especially pertinent now with Anjani’s new CD scheduled for release soon.

The interview took place in Toronto during the promotion of the Blue Alert album (released in Canada on May 2, 2006) and appears to have originally aired on TFO, the Franco-Ontarian public television network.

While most fans will already be familiar with the information in the interview, this new opportunity to hear Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas articulate the strengths each brought to their collaboration in creating Blue Alert shouldn’t be missed.

Video from DiffusionLuce

New Video: Anjani Thomas Sings 2 Songs Co-written With Leonard Cohen – St. John’s 2013

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Song To Make Me Still & Standing On The Stairs

For more information, including lyrics and origins of these songs, as well as videos of these same songs performed on  Dec 30, 2013, see Anjani Thomas Performs Two Unreleased Songs Co-written With Leonard Cohen At 2013 Feast Of Cohen

Anjani Thomas – Song To Make Me Still & Standing On The Stairs
Feast Of Cohen, St. John’s, Newfoundland: Dec 29, 2013
Video by AnjaniMusic

Videos: Anjani Thomas Performs Two Unreleased Songs Co-written With Leonard Cohen At 2013 Feast Of Cohen

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Song to Make Me Still and Standing on the Stairs

Song To Make Me Still

spiceboxSong To Make Me Still is a poem from Spice Box of Earth, a volume of Leonard Cohen’s poetry published in 1961 when Cohen was 27 years old.

Lower your eyelids
over the water
Join the night
like the trees
you lie under

How many crickets
How many waves
easy after easy
on the one way shore

There are stars
from another view
and a moon
to draw the seaweed through

No one calls the crickets vain
in their time
in their time
No one will call you idle
for dying with the sun

Anjani Thomas – Song to Make Me Still
Feast Of Cohen, St. John’s, Newfoundland: Dec 30, 2013
Video by susannaevelyn

Standing On The Stairs

parasites1Standing On The Stairs is a Leonard Cohen poem published in Parasites Of Heaven (1966).  Anjani, in an interview in Jan 2013,1 had this to say about Standing On The Stairs:2

Leonard wrote the lyrics of that album [Blue Alert] and I wrote the music. It was a very collaborative album because he had a clear idea of what led me to make that record. That’s why he caught some songs right away, although others took many takes to do them well. When it was perfect we both felt in our bones. One of the songs that didn’t go on that record will be on the new one. It is entitled ‘Standing on the stairs’ and it is a song that has traveled extensively. Born as a country-inspired song, it took on a tinge of folk and eventually I discarded it altogether. Two years later I met Jerry Marotta, the producer of this album, and it was one of the first songs we recorded. During the time I was recording, Leonard was on the road and I had to navigate alone. I would send him ideas and he would send clues back to me. He was as involved as he could be

Anjani Thomas – Standing on the Stairs
Feast Of Cohen, St. John’s, Newfoundland: Dec 30, 2013
Video by susannaevelyn

  1. Anjani Thomas, la cantante que conquistó a Leonard Cohen by Alfonso Cardinal,   Efe Eme: Jan 28, 2013 []
  2. English translation by Helen Ketcham []

Anjani Thomas To Perform 2 New Songs Written With Leonard Cohen At 2013 Feast Of Cohen

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Anjani Thomas will perform two unreleased songs co-written with Leonard Cohen as well as a couple of songs from the Blue Alert album at the 2013 Feast Of Cohen, a tribute to the Canadian singer-songwriter held annually in St. John’s every December since 2000.

Anjani, whose 2006 Blue Alert album featured songs written and arranged by her and Leonard Cohen, explains, “Paul Koidis1 was in St. John’s, and suggested to me that it would be great to try out some of the new songs.”

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Anjani was a backup singer for Cohen beginning with the 1984 recording of Hallelujah for the Various Positions album. She was the keyboardist and female vocalist on Cohen’s 1985 Tour in support of that album. She continued to record vocals for him on I’m Your Man (1988), The Future (1992) and Dear Heather (2004).

The new songs are among those being considered for Anjani’s new CD, tentatively titled, “I Came To Love,” scheduled for release in Spring 2014.

As reported in Special Guest Will Make ‘Feast Of Cohen’ Richer by Tara Bradbury (The Telegram: December 19, 2013):

Hynes [Vicky Hynes, creator and organizer of the Feast Of Cohen] got a call from staff at Fred’s Records last August, telling her a man was in the store saying he was Thomas’ manager, and wanted to get in touch with her.

‘Lo and behold, he was contacting me because apparently (Thomas and Cohen) have quite a few songs, not a handful, but more like 70 or 80, that they’ve co-written together. She’s looking at possibly recording next year, and she hasn’t decided whether she’s going to do a complete album of co-writes or some of her own stuff and some co-writes,’ Hynes explained. ‘She was looking for a platform to present some of the new stuff that hasn’t been heard before, and she had heard about Feast of Cohen.’ …Thomas will perform a 20-minute set with local musicians Bill Brennan and Mark Peddle during this year’s show

Feast of Cohen will run at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre Dec. 28 and 29. Tickets are $50 (HST and service charge included) and are available at the Arts and Culture Centre box office, by calling 729-3900, or online at www.artsandculturecentre.com.

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  1. From [PAUL KOIDIS]
    Paul also Executive Produced the exclusive premiere industry concert for Adam Cohen, son of Leonard Cohen, for an album of unreleased songs which was later nominated for a JUNO award for adult contemporary album of the year. In 2013, Paul will be launching a new series of unreleased Leonard Cohen songs, as performed by Anjani Thomas, long-time collaborator and partner of Leonard Cohen and featured on the original recording of Hallelujah, at Canada’s oldest music festival, A Feast of Cohen, in Newfoundland. []

Hear Lou Reed Sing Leonard Cohen’s "Memories" With Anjani Thomas – 2006

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The Lou Reed-Leonard Cohen Mutual Admiration Society

lou-lcThe recent death of Lou Reed called to mind his many connections with Leonard Cohen, beginning with their meeting in New York in the 1960s. Cohen summarizes their early relationship:

[Lou Reed]  was an early reader of Beautiful Losers which he thought was a good book. In those days I guess he wasn’t getting very many compliments of his work and I certainly wasn’t. So we told each other how good we were. I liked him immediately because Nico liked him.1

And it was Reed who introduced Leonard Cohen At Cohen’s 2008 Induction Into Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

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In fact, earlier this year (April 7, 2013), Lou Reed was in the audience at the Leonard Cohen Radio City Music Hall Show.

Less well known, however, are Reed’s appearances, both as a spectator and a participant, at many Cohen-related shows.  Dick and Linda Straub recall, for example,  seeing Lou Reed at at Joe’s Pub where Anjani was promoting the Blue Alert album on which Cohen collaborated.

The “Came So Far For Beauty” Leonard Cohen Tribute

Lou Reed also took part in “Came So Far For Beauty: An Evening of Leonard Cohen Song,” a Cohen tribute which  took place Oct 5 & 6, 2006 in Dublin.  Produced by Hal Willner, it featured 24 star performers, including, in addition to Reed, Anjani Thomas, Jarvis Cocker, Nick Cave, Teddy Thompson, Mary Margaret O’Hara, The Handsome Family, Antony, Laurie Anderson, Beth Orton, and Gavin Friday.

“Memories” – The Came So Far For Beauty Finale

The finale of the show was lou-reed-anjani“Memories” from the Death Of A Ladies’ Man album. Closing the show, this number was also used an opportunity for the performers to showcase their skills one last time.

And, as it turned out, Lou Reed and Anjani were paired in an exchange of the song’s lines.

An eye-witness, who writes on the LeonardCohenForum under the arbitrarily truncated designation, Born With The Gift Of A G, describes the scene in his posting, Thoughts On Came So Far For Beauty in Dublin: Part 2:

… on the second night, The Handsome Family’s third contribution was omitted; Teddy Thompson’s splendid rousing The Future was the penultimate song and the collective rendition of Memories was the closing song. Everybody seemed to have great fun with the latter, particularly Lou Reed who relished flirting with and saying the words “your naked body” to a somewhat flustered Anjani! Lucky old bugger!

Or, as Anjani commented when I asked about her duet with Lou Reed,

That was a hoot, alright

The Lyrics

Lou Reed:

Frankie Lane, he was singing Jezebel
I pinned an Iron Cross to my lapel
I walked up to the tallest and the blondest girl
I said, Look, you don’t know me now but very soon you will
So won’t you let me see
I said “won’t you let me see”
I said “won’t you let me see
Your naked body?”

Anjani:

Just dance me to the dark side of the gym
Chances are I’ll let you do most anything
I know you’re hungry, I can hear it in your voice
And there are many parts of me to touch, you have your choice
Ah but no you cannot see
She said “no you cannot see”
She said “no you cannot see
My naked body”

The Recording

The recording of this delight is admittedly an imperfect offering – but, heck, it’s Lou Reed and Anjani singing Leonard Cohen’s “Memories.”  What’s not to like?

Memories – Came So Far For Beauty Tribute (Dublin, Oct. 5, 2006)
Note: Lou Reed begins singing at about 3:14

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Credit Due Department: The photo of Lou Reed and Anjani as well as the audio recording are from Linda Straub. Thanks to Guy Minnebach for clarifying the point at which Lou Reed begins singing.

  1. September 15th 1974 by Robin Pike. ZigZag magazine: October 1974. Found at the one and only Speaking Cohen. []