Category Archives: Anjani Thomas

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.


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 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.


Anjani – Blue Alert

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Anjani Thomas @ Jools Holland – Innermost Door

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Blue Alert Promotional Video

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

Pucker up, Buttercup.


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, …


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” []

Backstage Banter Starring Anjani, Directed By Dominique Isserman. Leonard Cohen, Cameraman

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)

Video from messalina79

An alternative version of “Dominique” follows:

Soeur Sourire Plays And Sings Dominique (1963)

Video from riccardobruero

Bonus: More Behind The Scenes Action – Rehearsing & Mopping

Leonard Cohen And Band – Rehearsal Of Tonight Will Be Fine and If It Be Your Will (From German Documentary ‘Halleluja in Moll’ 1985)

Video from messalina79


Credit Due Department: I was alerted to these videos by a link on LeonardCohenForum by ladydi.

Leonard Cohen & Anjani Appear On TV Talk Show


More Leonard Cohen, Anjani Videos From Kaare Johnsen

Another group of  outstanding historical videos featuring Leonard Cohen and Anjani came online at YouTube yesterday through the auspices of kaarekjohnsen,1 who was responsible for the videos of the 1985 Leonard Cohen concert in Kalvøya that were the topic of Baby, Baby, Baby – Leonard Cohen & Anjani Sing The Blues In Norway.

While I will address several of these in upcoming posts, today’s focus is on the three videos (total time: 17 minutes) comprising the appearance of  Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas as guests on the March 30, 2007 edition of “Først & sist” (“First & last”), the Norwegian talk show hosted by Fredrik Skavlan.2


Left to Right: Al Gore, Leonard Cohen, Fredrik Skavlan ( host,) Anjani Thomas, and Gro Harlem Brundtland

Leonard Cohen On His Ordination As A Zen Monk, The Pilfering Of His Money, Al Gore, and Anjani

My recommendation of this interview segment is based in large part on Cohen’s low-key explanations of the reasons he devoted a few years to living in a Zen monastery on Mount Baldy and the events surrounding the pilferage of his retirement fund, both of which demystify the circumstances without denying the significance of the episodes.

As always, Cohen is well-spoken, poised, and witty, especially in regard to his loss of his retirement fund of several million dollars.

Money has a way of disappearing if you don’t watch it very, very closely.  That’s a certain wisdom I acquired. I wasn’t absolutely certain of this [before the loss], but now I am. It’s enough to put a dent in your mood.

[Responding to the host's observation that Cohen seems "quite happy" despite having very little money following the loss:]  Well, I don’t recommend this as a spiritual exercise, …

As I’ve pointed out, beginning with the first Heck Of A Guy post that addressed a Cohen interview,

Leonard Cohen exercises the poet’s prerogative of re-interpreting and manipulating her [the interviewer's] words and his own to distract and deflect. A trivial but nonetheless amusing example follows:

Leonard Cohen: I always thought I would change my name and get a tattoo

Beryl Fox: Where?

Leonard Cohen: There’s this place on St. Lawrence Blvd.

The interviewer’s facial expression at that point is a bonus.

As one might expect, Cohen has, in the 39 years that separate the two interviews, become more subtle and sophisticated in his technique, but he still shepherds the conversation into the path he chooses, content to follow the lead of the interviewer only if it fits his needs.  This is, I hasten to add, invariably a benefit to the quality of the interview.3


Two brief Cohen expositions are worthy of special note:

1. In a few sentences, he makes Al Gore, who is also a guest on the show, sound principled rather than ponderous and spiritual rather than self-righteous. Mr Gore, unfortunately, proves himself equally efficacious in undoing this rehabilitation when he responds to Cohen’s comments.

2. An interesting contrast exists between Cohen’s characterization of his relationship with Anjani in this interview and that contained in his introduction of her in the video of the 1985 Kalvøya, Norway performance of “I Tried To Leave You.”The  1985 introduction follows:

Now we come to the girl I love, even though she has a mean streak. She translates that mean streak into passion and fire. That’s why I love her. The Pearl of the Pacific, from Honolulu, Hawaii, Ms Anjani Thomas.

Compare that with his response to the host’s phrase, “This is a long love story,” which was spoken simply as an invitation for Cohen to provide the history between Anjani and him. Instead, Cohen first finds it necessary, with notable stuttering and stops and starts,  to correct the improper application of  “love story” to the relationship:

It wasn’t always a love … It was an affectionate story for a long time, and it ripened into something deeper. But I found it’s best not to name a relationship.

It is important to acknowledge that this shift does not seem the consequence of any change in Cohen’s relationship with Anjani, to whom he appears deeply attached during the interview. In fact, just prior to his halting pronouncements on the nature of the connection, Cohen had spontaneously segued from Anjani as his backup singer to Anjani as his romantic partner:

I depended on that [Anjani's] voice, I leaned on it, I slept on that voice.

Instead, the difference appears the result of Cohen’s insistence, which has intensified with age, of speaking in a knowledgeable manner only about matters concerning which he is indeed knowledgeable.

Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas On Først & sist, NRK, 2007 (1 of 3)

Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas On Først & sist, NRK, 2007 (2 of 3)


Anjani Sings “Thanks For The Dance”

Reflecting the power of ratings, the lion’s share of the interviewer’s attention is on Cohen. The primary question asked Anjani is, in fact, “How is it to work and live so close to Leonard Cohen?”

It turns out that “It’s a lot of fun.”

On the other hand, Anjani does a star turn on the show, performing “Thanks For The Dance.”

Update: As is apparent below, Part 3 of Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas On Først & sist, NRK, 2007 has been removed by the YouTube user. I have sent a message asking that the segment be restored but have received no response. As far as I can determine, the video is not available elsewhere.

Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas On Først & sist, NRK, 2007 (3 of 3) Includes Anjani Performing “Thanks For The Dance”

  1. When treasures like these become available from 25 years ago, my fantasies tend toward scenarios such as the discovey of a cache  of tapes stored in  mislabeled box at an abandoned TV studio.  The actual explanation is less dramatic but perhaps more impressive.  The 1985 Cohen performance (as well as songs sung by Donovan and Joni Mitchell) were recorded from TV by a colleague of Kaare Johnsen while the other material was recorded from TV broadcasts by Kaare Johnsen herself.  (A few items, not among those discussed in this post, were found on DVD). That Kaare and her colleague had the foresight to record these performances and the orgnization to find them again 25 years later is a formidable – and a bit intimidating – accomplishment. []
  2. The other two guests are American environmental activist and former vice president Al Gore and Gro Harlem Brundtland, who from 1984-87 was chairman of the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development (also former prime minister of Norway and director-general of the World Health Organization). []
  3. One of the several reasons I desperately long to interview Leonard Cohen is my conviction that, if I can muster the presence of mind to stutter out a discernible query of any sort (currently, I’m thinking of going with “So, Leonard, how’s tricks?”), the interview will be a pristine, elegant discussion of whatever Cohen wanted to talk about – which would be the same result regardless of what I had asked, so it is, as they say, all good. []