Category Archives: Anjani Thomas

Anjani Thomas Talks About Her New Album

anjani-innermostdoor

Anjani, Blue Alert, and Beyond

Blue Alert, an album of songs performed by Anjani Thomas with lyrics by Leonard Cohen, was released in May, 2006, was well received by critics and captivated many fans, including myself.

Since then, many of us have been awaiting Anjani’s next project.

That wait appears to be nearing an end. Anjani is currently working with Jerry Marotta on a CD to be released in “early 2012.”

And, she has graciously take time off from that effort to answer a few questions for Heck Of A Guy about the forthcoming work.

Anjani Thomas’s New Album Q&A

1. From your website and Facebook page, we know you are currently at work in Woodstock with producer Jerry Marotta recording tracks for a new CD release, your first since Blue Alert. On Facebook you wrote,

Hey Friends! The new website, anjani-music.com uploads next week! And since Facebook makes it so easy to stay in touch, I’ll be more active on the boards here,with the latest news about the followup CD to Blue Alert that I’m recording. These songs–half of which I wrote with Leonard Cohen–are being produced by Jerry Marotta at his beautiful studio Dreamland, in Woodstock …



Can you offer those of us who are not in the music business an idea of what goes on in a “typical recording session” (if there is such a thing) and how decisions (e.g., when a song rendition is good enough, when adjustments to the arrangement or lyrics are needed, etc) get made?

In the past, I’ve hired musicians for an 8 hour session, and we’d head to the studio where I’d hand them 2 or 3 lead sheets (sheet music) and after learning the tunes, we’d record them. The problem was, even though I was working with phenomenal musicians, the songs weren’t being developed in a way that can only happen with time and space and really exploring how to create parts for different instruments that coalesce and intertwine with the vocals, the rhythm, and the feel of the tune. Even the best session players often come to session thinking,

Chord Chart + Genre of Tune = Whatever I’d usually play in that vein.

Because the studio clock is ticking, there isn’t a lot of thought put into really defining what’s happening …. You just play the song down till it sounds pretty good and the chords are right; then you move on to the next song. But there are many ways to play one chord. And what happens if you want the drums to lay out and the guitar to only pick two notes on the offbeats and have the piano play the chord on the downbeat? See, there are a myriad of opportunities to consider in every bar.

But these sessions with Jerry are really unusual in that each song is a deep conversation—literally and musically–between us. We start by me singing and playing a tune, and then we’ll search for a sound on the synthesizer that fits the song (and so far we’ve both agreed simultaneously on what that sound is). Then we’ll record me singing and playing the keyboard in a way that implies the groove and bass part with my left hand (much of Blue Alert was recorded this way).  After that, Jerry will put on a percussion or drum track, and I will replay my keyboard part again, but this time it’s more spacious and integrated with the vocal—so I don’t play much in the bass register or groove too much with my left hand – I try to create a part with enough space for all the tracking to come.

Jerry is also a great bassist, so he’ll do that, and maybe put down more percussion and drums. I’ll add piano or maybe some more keyboards…I have a penchant for playing guitar parts on my synth (like on Half The Perfect World), so I’ll fill that in too. then we might sing some background vocals together, and we just keep evolving it like we’re having an in depth conversation.

By the way, this is a really unique way of recording that Jerry has introduced me to. he’s taught me that by only having the two of us in the studio, the energy is very concentrated. if we had a whole band in there at the same time, we couldn’t keep track of what everyone is doing. That’s where the train ran off the tracks in my previous records. I’d be so focused on what i was playing and singing, that I could hardly follow what everyone else was doing, other than calling out a wrong note or something really out of place. and when you have say, five talented musicians who all love to play, well, THEY PLAY!

Creating a song is such a delicate dance, and it can stray far away from what the artist has in mind. And in my case, I don’t even know what I want to hear until I’ve heard it. It’s shocking for me to admit that after all these records I’ve made, it turns out I’ve been masquerading as a producer.  Because after working with Jerry, I get that my chops as a singer/songwriter/musician don’t extend to the ability to hear all the disparate parts and make them a coherent whole. It’s just mindboggling to me to watch what he does. And I’m delighted to relinquish the role to someone who has the vision for it. I can’t say enough about his talent and innovative approach to recording. Jerry’s the rarest breed of drummer…one who has no attachment to whether he plays or not, and that shows his desire to honor the singer and the song.

2. To what extent is the new album a followup to Blue Alert Vs a completely distinct work? For example, will the mood, lyrical themes, or musical style of the new album be similar to Blue Alert?

I always dreamed of re-doing Blue Alert with a band, and if that ever happened, I know Jerry would be the one to bring it about successfully. Short of that, I can say this record has little resemblance to Blue Alert, other than the fact that Leonard wrote some lyrics and I wrote the music. Jerry is all about delicious, creative grooves, and that’s why I wanted to work with him. I love to dance, to move, and I wanted to make a record that reflected those impulses, because it’s tough to put on a show with a long string of ballads, followed by a few ballads and an encore ballad! I’ve done it before with Blue Alert, and though it’s a magical and special experience, it’s a challenge to hold an audience’s attention like that for a whole concert.

One thing I’m happy about is how every lyric has been perfectly driven by Jerry’s grooves. Because of the drums and percussion, we touch upon some genres that Blue Alert couldn’t venture into. And we’ve got more than enough tunes for this record so we’re already thinking ahead to the next one.

3. One of the most intriguing comments you’ve made about the genesis of the new album was your comment on Facebook: “This may sound extreme, but since Blue Alert I’ve actually made 2 CDs. And they are good…but to my ear, not good enough to release. There were all kinds of pressure to put them out anyway but I just couldn’t do it.” 

How would you describe those two CDs and what was it about them that made you decide they were “not good enough to release.” Have any of the songs from those two CDs been included – in their original or revised forms – in the track list of your new album.

(I explained this in the first answer.) So far, only Love In Between is in. I recently donated another one called A Thousand Tears to www.amazingcomp.ca, a project to benefit cancer research.

4. The most recent release date reference I found on Facebook is your note, “We plan to put it [the album] out soon after Leonard’s next release, early 2012.” Are you still anticipating the album will be released in early 2012? Can you narrow down the likely release date?

Not at this time.

5. Can you share the album’s name?

We seem to be simultaneously developing two records. The songs are grouping themselves into distinct themes, and I’m not sure if we’ll mix them together or keep them separate. One feels more ambient and the other is more pop song-centric. I’m leaning toward I Came to Love for the latter title.

6. Your website lists a Toronto concert in June 2012. Are you planning to tour in support of your new album? If so, where else might you be performing?

Jerry and I are really excited about touring possibilities. I expect that dates will grow organically, so if anybody has any connections to clubs or halls, please feel free to contact Robert Kory. We want to ask our fans to help us spread the word about the project, and all ideas to promote it will be considered.

7. How do you plan to celebrate once the work on the new CD is finished?

I’ve been celebrating my good fortune ever since I got to Woodstock. How lucky am I to work with the caliber of artists like Leonard Cohen and Jerry Marotta? And soon as we’re done with this record we’re going right back to work on a few other projects we have planned. That’s my idea of celebrating.

Credit Due Department:  The image atop this post is a screen capture from a June 1, 2007 appearance of Anjani on the Jools Holland Show. The other large photo of Anjani is from her Facebook page.

Leonard Cohen, Anjani Thomas & Band – 1985

Left to right: Leonard Cohen, John Crowder, Richard Crooks, Mitch Watkins, Ron Getman, and Anjani Thomas

Photo: The 1985 Leonard Cohen Tour Musicians

Noting that the Heck Of A Guy posts of the past two days, 1985 Leonard Cohen Norway Videos Are Back and 1985 Video Of Leonard Cohen Rehearsals, Backstage Badinage, and Interviews, dealt with Leonard Cohen performances in 1985, Dominique BOILE contributed the above photo, taken by Alberto Manzano, of Leonard Cohen and his band from the 1985 Tour. Click on image to enlarge.

Band Members:

  • Mitch Watkins (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
  • Ron Getman (guitar, pedal steel, vocals)
  • John Crowder (bass, vocals)
  • Richard Crooks (drums)
  • Anjani Thomas (keyboards, vocals)1

Bonus: 1985 Photo Of Left-handed Leonard Cohen

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.”

  1. Source: LeonardCohenFiles []
  2. OK, a possible alternative explanation is that the photograph has been reversed. []

Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas – Paris 2007

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.2 Click 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.

Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas: Live in Paris

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.

  1. A Q&A featuring Dominique Boile will be posted here soon. []
  2. Similarly, Dominique BOILE provided a full page of images of Jennifer Warnes performing with Leonard Cohen to celebrate Ms Warnes appearance on the same album. []

Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Album To Feature Jennifer Warnes And Anjani

Old Friends, Old Ideas, New Leonard Cohen Album

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

An excerpt from a LeonardCohenForum post by JJR follows:

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.

  1. 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) []

Revisiting Blue Alert By Anjani And Leonard Cohen

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.

DrHGuy Finds 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.

Why You’re Going To Want To Kiss Me2


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.

Whatever.

The Music

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

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.

Enough blathering.

Listen

Anjani – Blue Alert

Uploaded by

 

Anjani Thomas @ Jools Holland – Innermost Door

Uploaded by

 

Blue Alert Promotional Video

Uploaded by

Lyrics

Some of the lyrics are so damn good, I can’t think of a better way to close to list a few lines and the complete lyrics of my favorite track, “Thanks For The Dance,” unencumbered by my annotations.

From “Blue Alert”

All Tangled up in nakedness
You even touch yourself
You’re such a flirt
Blue Alert.

From “Half The Perfect World”

…that fundamental ground
Where love’s unwilled, unleashed,
Unbound
And half the perfect world.

From “The Mist”

So will we endure when one is gone and far.

“Thanks For The Dance”

Thanks for the dance
I’m sorry you’re tired
The evening has hardly begun
Thanks for the dance
Try to look inspired
One two three, one two three one

There’s a rose in my hair
My shoulders are bare
I’ve been wearing this costume
Forever
Turn up the music
Pour out the wine
Stop at the surface
The surface is fine
We don’t need to go any deeper

Thanks for the dance
I hear that we’re married
One two three, one two three one
Thanks for the dance
And the baby I carried
It was almost a daughter or a son

And there’s nothing to do
But to wonder if you
Are as hopeless as me
And as decent

We’re joined in the spirit
Joined at the hip
Joined in the panic
Wondering if
We’ve come to some sort
Of agreement

It was fine it was fast
I was first I was last
In line at the
Temple of Pleasure
But the green was so green
And the blue was so blue
I was so I
And you were so you
The crisis was light
As a feather

Thanks for the dance
It’s been hell, it’s been swell
It’s been fun
Thanks for all the dances
One two three, one two three one

So?

So, listen to the clips. If you like it, buy the album and listen to it.
Then,


Pucker up, Buttercup.

end3

Updated:
A Muse Amused?
It’s Pandoracious!

____________________________

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.

  1. 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. []
  2. “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. []
  3. I guess she didn’t know that Lenny is always saying stuff like that, just goofing around []
  4. 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 []

Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas KCRW Interview – Wrestling For Lyrics, New Songs, New Album, The Story Of “C,” The Curious Tiny Ordeal, …

cohen-anjani-standing

Now Online – The KCRW Interview Of Leonard Cohen & Anjani

On June 24, 2006 Leonard Cohen and Anjani were interviewed by Chris Douridas on KCRW. During that show, two new songs by Leonard Cohen that were written for possible use in an album on which he was then working were played and subsequently became the focus of a Heck Of A Guy post, Two Very Raw, Unreleased Leonard Cohen Songs “Puppets” And “Book Of Longing”.

That post also lamented

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.

Program Highlights

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).

  1. Go to this link: Leonard Cohen and Anjani – KCRW Interview
  2. 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.

  1. For a more complete exposition of this story, see The Anjani Chronicles: Anjani Goes To New York, Meets Leonard Cohen, and Finds Romance – But Not In That Order []
  2. For a more complete exposition of this event, see Story of “C” []