Dominique BOILE also offers two versions of a second 1985 Leonard Cohen photo. The above image is from the rare Leonard Cohen – The Eternal Classic CD (Note: the photo is from the Kalvoya Festival, Oslo, Norway, June 30 1985, but the tracks on the CD are studio takes) that features the similarly rare sight of Leonard Cohen playing guitar left-handed.2
Dominique goes on to point out that the same 1985 photo – with Leonard Cohen, posed against what one supposes represents an Icelandic scene, returning to his right-handed style of guitar playing – was mistakenly used on the cover of the extraordinary triple CD bootleg “Levgardalsholl Reykjavik, Iceland, 24 June 1988.”
Photos – Leonard Cohen & Anjani Perform Blue Alert Music
To mark the news that Anjani will appear on Leonard Cohen’s forthcoming “Old Ideas” album (See Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Album To Feature Jennifer Warnes And Anjani), Dominique BOILE1 has proffered these striking photos he took during Leonard Cohen Presents Anjani at the New Morning club in Paris on July 11, 2007, when Anjani performed in support of the Blue Alert Album.2Click on images to enlarge.
Anjani Also Recording Her Own New Album
As well as performing on Cohen’s “Old Ideas” album, Anjani is currently at work in Woodstock with producer Jerry Marotta recording tracks for a new CD release, her first since Blue Alert, due to be released this winter.
You can follow Anjani’s own posts on her Facebook page. Anjani has also generously agreed to interrupt her recording schedule for an interview that will be published on the Heck Of A Guy site.
Anjani & Leonard Cohen Live In Paris – The Experience
Maarten Massa, who also attended that 2007 Paris performance, issued this very personal report of the event.
I’m from Belgium and Anjani will be performing in Ghent next week, but since I’ll be in Greece by then, I decided to go to Paris for a few days and combine a small city trip with Anjani’s gig.
Perhaps some of you remember me from Berlin where I took my dad along. This time, I was able to convince my wife and mother as well to go to Paris (although I’m a bit suspicious about their real purpose to go to Paris – they love shopping…).
So we were at the New Morning Club with a small group of 5 (a friend from Paris joined us there). I wasn’t at all expecting Leonard Cohen to appear, although of course I was hoping he’d show up somehow…
My ticket said “Start at 20:00h”, but the website mentioned Anjani’s gig would start around 21:30h. To make sure we’d be there on time, we arrived about a quarter to eight. I didn’t know what to expect, but The New Morning Club turned out to be a small jazz club in the middle of Paris. A small stage in front and seats for about a hundred people maximum, set in 1 middle area with some small tables and one “ring” around this middle part which was 1 step higher.
We took a place in “the pit” and went for a drink. Only a few minutes later, someone wearing a (homemade?) t-shirt with the Order of the Unified Heart symbol on it came to sit just beside us. I got into a small conversation with the man and said that he shouldn’t get his hopes up to see Leonard Cohen appear, since The Forum (read: Jarkko) reported that Leonard wouldn’t be at Anjani’s concerts…
After a short talk, we watched the artist who was programmed before Anjani… After that there was a small pause and suddenly I saw Leonard and Anjani pass the bar and disappear backstage (later I heard there was only 1 way in, so I knew I had to wait there to see them again…). I quickly turned to the guy I spoke with earlier, but I’m not sure he believed me when I said I saw LC pass us by… Especially since I told him before that Leonard wouldn’t be there…
Anyhow, at that point in time, I started getting a minor headache from all the excitement! Luckily, it went away when Anjani got on stage. She introduced herself and the band and played most songs from Blue Alert. Her voice sounded superb and very jazzy in a great setting. She also brought 2 Cohen-covers which are not on the album: “The gypsy’s wife” and “The smokey life”, both from Recent songs.
She made some nice introductions for a few songs. I remember her talking about “The mist”: a poem Leonard wrote when he was about 18 years old and it’s the kind of poem every young poet should write in his journey to become a great poet in time (something like that).
On “Crazy to love you”: “I think this song is written for me personally. I saw this one line in one of Leonard’s notebooks and asked him to write a whole poem/song around it. And so he did….”.
After I had given up the hope of seeing Leonard Cohen on stage with Anjani (she had already sung “Never got to love you” of which they did a duet at the Indigo Store in Toronto, remember), she announced the last song and finished the show. As an encore, she chose “Nightingale”, solo on piano. Really great!
Then it happened: in the beginning of the evening, there was an extra microphone on stage, just in front of her piano. But when she wanted to play her first song on piano (the first few songs, she only sang and later she took place behind the piano), she asked to remove the microphone because it was a bit in the way… So now she asked the microphone back and said “shall we ask Leonard to come and join us for a song?”. Everybody went “Yeah!!!” (of course!) and so she looked at the door from where he would come. But he didn’t… Anjani joked about Leonard already being outside, in need of a smoke and so she encouraged the crowd to call for him.
A minute later, Leonard Cohen appeared! He gently nodded and took his place on stage, right next to Anjani. They sang “Never got to love you”, sometimes holding hands and looking into each others eyes. Very touching! (I almost cried, but don’t tell my wife that!).
I must admit his voice was not great, but I didn’t expect it to be. It sounded heavenly for me! The moment itself was magic. I never thought I’d be able to see my hero live and certainly not singing.
After the song, both left the stage and the band played on for half a song.
After the show, Anjani came out to talk to the fans and sign some stuff. I think there was only about 20 men in line, which was great. Anjani let us make some photos as well. I wasn’t sure whether to expect Leonard to come out and sign, but since it was the only way out I had to wait to see him again. Later on, he did show up and gave away some signatures as well. I even got a picture together! Then they left the club and got into a car which drove away into the night.
Later that night, in the subway on my way back, I had to take medication because my headache welled up again, probably because of the emotions and the decompression…
Video: Leonard Cohen & Anjani – Never Got To Love You
As far as I can determine, no video of the New Morning club performance is available. This recording of “Never Got To Love You,” the song Leonard Cohen and Anjani sang as a duet in Paris, was shot during their appearance at Joe’s Pub in New York on April 24, 2007.
A Q&A featuring Dominique Boile will be posted here soon. [↩]
Two exquisite female vocalists, each of whom has a long history with Leonard Cohen, including singing backup for him and releasing their own albums of his material, will appear on Cohen’s Old Ideas CD due to be published in Spring 2012.
Jenny Sings [With] Lenny
Jennifer Warnes, perhaps best known among Leonard Cohen fans for Famous Blue Raincoat, her album of Leonard Cohen songs, has told a concert audience she will appear on the Canadian singer-songwriter’s new album.1
Last night I attended Jennifer Warnes’ concert in Edmonton. Jennifer was in terrific form and gave us an unforgettable evening of great music and stories. During the show she mentioned that she had been recording ‘recently’ with Leonard Cohen, saying that the results will appear on his new album, due next year.
A followup post in the same thread by Jarkko provides more details:
After so many years, Jennifer Warnes was back in the studio with Leonard, and she is singing on one of the tracks. Anjani and Sharon both have significant roles in many of those ten new songs.
Anjani Rates New Leonard Cohen Album “One of his strongest records ever”
Leonard Cohen and Anjani at Joe's Pub (April 24, 2007)
Anjani has worked with Leonard Cohen since 1984, singing on tours and in the studio. She and Cohen collaborated on Blue Alert, which was released in 2006.
On her Facebook page, Anjani responds to a question asking about the target date of her own new CD with the following:
... we plan to put it out soon after Leonard’s next release, early 2012. btw, i think it’s one of his strongest records ever, including a gorgeous cover of Crazy To Love You, one of my fav songs off of Blue Alert.
Credit Due Department: The photo of Leonard Cohen, Jennifer Warnes, and canine companion at the kitchen table is from LeonardCohenFiles. The photo of Leonard Cohen singing with Anjani was found, along with a number of other striking photos of Anjani’s 2007 appearance at Joe’s Pub, at Brooklyn Vegan.
In addition, The StarPhoenix has just published a sort of “where is she now” piece about Jenifer Warnes that addresses her special relationship with Leonard Cohen at In the midst of upheaval, Warnes reaches out by Cam Fuller (The StarPhoenix September 14, 2011) [↩]
Note: DrHGuy is out today but should return tomorrow. In the meantime, Heck Of A Guy offers a reprise of the July 25, 2006 review of Blue Alert - Blue Alert – A Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me – that led to this blog’s current focus on Leonard Cohen, Anjani, and the other musicians working with the Canadian singer-songwriter.
This selection is especially timely because Anjani has recently begun recording tracks for her next album. For more information, see Anjani’s Facebook page.
How I Met Anjani And Blue Alert
In many ways, it was a day like any other. While browsing for merchandise at Amazon to nudge my total order over the $25 criterion to qualify for that all-important free shipping, I happened onto Blue Alert, the album by Anjani Thomas that I recalled had received some coverage in the pop music press because it was produced by Leonard Cohen. Being a full-fledged member of the Cohen cohort, I had casually planned to check it out and this accidental encounter seemed a serendipitous opportunity.
But you know how these set-ups never work out. Your best friend in high school introduces you to his cousin from Kansas City so you go out a few times but never really click. Then you go out a few more times and before you know it, you marry her – and then your life descends into a living hell that makes you long for the sweet release only death can bring. For example.
But hope, as it is wont to do, springs eternal so I was thought it was possible that Anjani and I might have a few laughs together in the form of three or four tracks enjoyable enough to justify transferring ten bucks from me to Jeff Bezos. Admittedly, I was only looking for a good time, not a long term relationship. But, hey, she was hanging out with Leonard Cohen so she was probably into that sort of thing, right?
Then, my interest was piqued by a phrase from Amazon’s Editorial Review of the album, which described Blue Alert as
… a collection of gentle music tinged with styles
ranging from Holly Cole to Tanita Tikaram
As it turns out, folks in proximity to me for more than 20 minutes are at substantial risk of being subjected to my adulation of Tanita – if they have survived my even more fervid adoration of Holly.1 When I read that implicit grouping of Anjani, Holly, and Tanita, my mind raced to the obvious conclusion – that’s right, I’m thinking foursome.
My jejune sexual fantasies notwithstanding, this is music that is lovely, intricate, and intoxicating.
Many reviewers use adjectives such as “gentle,” “mellow,” and “low [amplitude],” to describe this album. It is true that one is unlikely to mistake Anjani’s contralto singing for a performance by Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. Such characterizations, however, are misleading in that they connote a semi-jazzy CD one plays as background music when the boss comes for dinner because it’s unobtrusive.
Such a categorization would be a tragedy. This is, in fact, an album that deserves to be played, especially the first time, when one has the time and psychological energy to hear the music and listen to the lyrics. Lord, now I’m making it sound like an intellectual task or, worse, an assignment. Let me reframe that into You (and you know who you are) deserve to listen to this album, especially the first time, when you have the time and psychological energy to hear the music and listen to the lyrics. Anyone that knows me knows that this is not a suggestion I make casually. (While I’m writing this post, for example, I’m also auditioning some new songs from a group called Let’s Be Honeys, checking CNN Headline News, and monitoring the clock to assure that I roust the offspring for chores in timely fashion.)
Lenny & Anji
OK, I know you’re wondering so let’s get it out of the way. It’s no secret (heck, even the Knight Ridder News Service knows it) that she was a keyboardist and backup singer for Cohen for 14 years and, yep, his lover for six of those years.
The tipping point for making this album, according to Anjani, came after she finished a vocal of one of Cohen’s songs; then, “Leonard said to me, ‘Now, could you sing it like you’re devastated on a shore with nothing left to give?”3 Anjani goes on that “All my tools went out the window, I actually was devastated at that point. Then the vocal just came out.”
Well, thank goodness she was devastated. The official Amazon blurb tells the rest of the story
After finding a few lines of Cohen’s handwritten lyrics lying on his desk one day (specifically “there’s perfume burning in the air/bits of beauty everywhere”), Anjani was not just drawn to them, the words inspired her to write a song in their honor (“Blue Alert”). After hearing the result, the Order of Canada-winning poet was so impressed that he eventually allowed her the chance to cull through both his published and unpublished works for additional lyrics.
In any case, Anjani’s husky, lovely voice and Cohen’s new (or previously unrecorded) lyrics4 are a perfect fit.
While Blue Alert stands independently as an album and is wonderful as an isolated phenomenon, it is enriched if the listener has some experience with Cohen’s own performances of his work. There is an obvious contrast between Anjani’s assured voice and Cohen’s. One of Cohen’s saving graces is his straightforward recognition and acknowledgment of the quality of his vocalizations, which he distinguishes as “a different kind of activity” than singing. Yet, it seems to me that the honesty of Anjani’s voice evokes Cohen’s own. (Oops, I’m not the only one. In skimming for another factoid, I just found this, arguably more poetic, quote from Brian Johnson, “And though Cohen doesn’t sing a note on the album, his voice permeates it like smoke.” Yeah, what he said.)
In addition, many of the motifs, metaphors, and metaphysics from Cohen’s earlier corpus are, unsurprisingly, prominent in Blue Alert. “[I] Had to do time in the tower” from “Crazy To Love You,” for example, echoes the lines from Cohen’s “Tower Of Song,” and “Thanks For The Dance” is reminiscent of “Dance Me To The End Of Love” and, to my ears at least, seems almost a direct response to “Do I Have To Dance All Night” (See earlier post: The Best Leonard Cohen Song You’ve (Probably) Never Heard)
Love is, indeed, the focus of Blue Alert, and Cohen’s words are of a piece with the sensibilities of his earlier work. He is ambiguous and ambivalent but never ambagious. Love is everything and not enough to save us. And the sex is good, too.
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.
Both Holly Cole and Tanita Tikaram are subjects worthy of their own posts. And DrHGuy has not forgotten his promise/threat to post features about Leonard Cohen, the uses of poetry, and other topics, not to mention such thus far unmentioned but worthy themes as the comparative analysis of Paul Simon Vs Simon & Garfunkel, the list of female singers I want to sleep with even though I know they would hurt me and the chances of Tina Turner spending the night with me approximates zilch, the comfort and strength embedded in the poems of A.E. Housman, and the improbability of an adult American woman wearing a correctly sized bra unless she has been fitted for one by a lady of a certain age who speaks with a distinctive foreign accent. So much to blog, so little time. [↩]
“Kiss” in this setting is a statistical representation. This recommendation will evoke in some readers no more than a shrug of the shoulders while others will respond not only with kisses but with caresses, fondling, and maybe a bit of making out in addition. It will average out to a kiss. [↩]
I guess she didn’t know that Lenny is always saying stuff like that, just goofing around [↩]
Nightingale, the one previously recorded track, first appeared on Dear Heather but has been completely restructured and stripped of much gratuitous instrumental accompaniment, sounding as though it was were new [↩]
The good news is that the entire interview was revealing, interesting, and insightful . Of special interest were the descriptions Cohen and Anjani provided of the unusual process by which the songs in the Blue Alert album were created.
The bad news is that, although the link to the program listing is still intact, the archived recording of the interview itself is no longer available. (At least, I can’t find it. When I click on the appropriate buttons, I get a popup box reporting “This media cannot be found.” If anyone has better luck, please let me know.)
Whether the recording was actually missing from the website’s archives or the problem was idiosyncratic to my own computer software or internet connection, it is available now – and it is a treasure for fans of Leonard Cohen and Anjani.
This list of snippets from the show provide a taste of the treats offered in the interview:
Anjani and Leonard Cohen perform “Undertow,” the song which Anjani has described as the demarcation between her previous vocal style and the revised mode that would mark her renditions on the “Blue Alert” album.
They provide a brief history of their introduction by John Lissauer,1 including Cohen’s comment that on that first encounter he was “smitten by [Anjani's] beauty,” to which he quickly adds, “that quickly evaporates when you’re actually working with someone.” He goes on to speak of Anjani’s musicianship and discipline.
Cohen recounts Columbia’s refusal to issue “Various Positions” (an album which included “Dance Me to the End of Love” and “Hallelujah”) and the assessment by Columbia Records president Walter Yetnikoff, “Look, Leonard; we know you’re great, but we don’t know if you’re any good.”
Anjani and Cohen offer an anecdotal history of the making of the “Blue Alert” album, including her request to put his lyrics for “Blue Alert” to music herself, which she laughingly characterizes as “I had to wrestle him for it,” to which Cohen replies, “There’s a lot of concessions you make for peace in the house.”
Cohen notes that “What you hear [in "Blue Alert"] is Anjani’s demo.” He explains that attempts to add other instruments cluttered the song, that “all the acoustic space was fully and gloriously occupied by Anjani’s keyboard and voice.” He adds that “John Lissauer put on a moment of saxophone at the end that just situates it in the smoke.”
Anjani sings “Blue Alert.”
Leonard Cohen describes his involvement in an “avalanche of litigation” and credits their work on the “Blue Alert” album as “sublime release,” saying “the songs rescued us from the curious tiny ordeal that had overtaken my life at the time.”
Both Anjani and Cohen review the writing of “Never Got To Love You,” which originated from unused “outtakes” (Cohen’s term) from “Closing Time.” Cohen notes that the original lines were “very securely situated at this bar I remembered on the Laurentian Highway.”
Anjani sings “Never Got To Love You.”
Cohen briefly notes the publication of his “Book of Longing” and pays homage to Irving Layton. Also mentioned is the release of the tribute film, “I’m Your Man,” with shout outs to Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave, Perla Batalla, and others.
Anjani explains how she came to understand – and learn from – Cohen’s approach to music, which she refers to as the “Story of ‘C.’”2
Cohen and Anjani describe their “normal life” and Anjani praises his expertise in making egg salad. Cohen speaks of their “very deep collaboration” on music and in daily life, noting that “the future always uncertain.”
Anjani sings “Thanks For The Dance”
How To Listen To The Recorded Interview
Again, the original problem may have been unique to my browser or my internet access, but this is the following method now works (for me).
One that web page, you should see the image below (sans my annotations). Click on “Legacy Player.” (In my case, clicking on the other choices, “Listen” or “My Shows,” leads to a “This media cannot be found” warning.) A pop-up window should form, a 15 second blurb for KCRW follows, and then the interview begins.
Musical Of Backstage Lives Of Artists On Tour Opens Off-Broadway To Mixed Reviews
This teaser features Leonard Cohen as videographer, Anjani Thomas in pseudo-rant, and Dominique Issermann directing. An unrecognized (by me) cast member provides comic relief. The scene deteriorates when, in a room full of musicians, no one knows the words to “Dominique.”
From German Documentary ‘Halleluja in Moll’ (1985)
Do I Have To Dance All Night Surpasses 70,000 Views
"Do I Have To Dance All Night" was performed many times in concerts but was never released in the US.
As part of my crusade to popularize this song, I've cobbled together 2 videos - one for the semi-funky 1976 version with Laura Branigan and one for the 1980 more gypsy, less disco version - that kinda sorta fit the music.
As of Dec 19, 2012, the video of the 1976 version of Do I Have To Dance All Night has been viewed 70,152 times.
Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1
This video features the first version of the song Leonard Cohen would later revise into "Chelsea Hotel #2" along with images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin - whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song, the Hotel itself, and other associated people & places.
Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen had a fling in the 1960s that, for unspecified reasons, was short-lived, with Cohen instigating the parting.
It was then and is now a complex connection. In 1988, Cohen said, I'm still very friendly with Joni - I had dinner with her before the tour, and I have the same admiration for her as you do. But I think it was Noel Harrison who came up to me in the LA Troubadour and said "How do you like living with Beethoven?"
Photos of or related to Leonard Cohen that fall into specific themes have been among the ongoing features at DrHGuy, HOAG's sibling site. Galleries displaying collected images of 3 of these themes are now available at
The Leonard Cohen-Jennifer Warnes duet of Silent Night with Raffi Hakopian on violin was performed and recorded at the December 15, 1979 Brighton, England concert. Hear the song with a complementary video montage at
And We’re Still Making Love In My Secret Life – Julie’s Story & Video
... I never had a chance. I was - and this is the only word that fits - smitten. I still am.
She was smart and quick-witted, although it would take me 3 years to recognize that she was, in fact, much smarter than me, and then another 2 years to forgive her for that. She was also good-looking and unabashedly sexy.
And, we fell madly, irredeemably, unflinchingly in love.
Complementing the unlikely story of how Julie and I met, fell in love, and - 9 years, 2 husbands, 1 wife, and 2 careers later - got together to spend an outrageously wonderful 20 years together before her death, a video, set to the poignant "In My Secret Life" by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, is now available that evokes the role Julie, who died 10 years ago, continues to play in my life.
This Heck Of A Guy compilation includes unreleased Leonard Cohen performances over a 30+ year period.
Track List: Vol 1
1. Feels So Good (The Other Blues Song)
2. Book Of Longing
3. The Darkness
6. Do I Have to Dance All Night (1976)
7. Blues By The Jews
Track List: Vol 2
1. Red River Valley
2. Never Got To Love You (Duet with Anjani)
3. Can't Help Falling In Love
4. Ride Around
5. The Union Makes Us Strong
6. We Shall Not Be Moved
7. To Love Somebody
8. The Hypnotist (Poem)
9. Chelsea Hotel #1
10. There's No Reason Why You Should Remember Me
11. Streets Of Laredo
12. Do I Have To Dance All Night (1980)
Now, Another Other Leonard Cohen Album, the second collection of unreleased Leonard Cohen songs joins the popular The Other Leonard Cohen Album to offer fans of the iconic singer-songwriter a total of 3 CDs of musical treats. Another Other Leonard Cohen Album includes the following tracks plus liner notes by Sylvie Simmons.
1. Je Veux Vivre Tout Seul
2. Kevin Barry
3. Die Gedanken Sind Frei
4. Store Room
5. As Time Goes By
6. Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on
7. Blessed is the Memory
8. Silent Night
9. Dead Song
10. Another Saturday Night
11. Ballad of the Absent Mare
13. The Butcher
14. Un As Der Rebbe Singt
15. Song to the Machines
16. If It Be Your Will
17. Thirsty for the Kiss
18. A Thousand Kisses Deep
19. I Tried To Leave You
20. Whither Thou Goest
21. Mr Cohen Must Be Going