Category Archives: Anjani Thomas

If Leonard Cohen & Anjani Raised A Little Heck …

Create Your OwnMake a Routan Baby

I’m Very Sorry, Baby, Doesn’t Look Like Me At All1

  1. Lyrics from “Tower Of Song” by Leonard Cohen []

The Anjani Chronicles: Anjani In 9 to 5 Land

Introduction To The Anjani Chronicles1

Anjani2 is the exquisite, exotically featured singer and keyboardist best known for her Blue Alert CD, a collection of elegantly performed songs suffused with evocative lyrics, and her professional and romantic relationships with Leonard Cohen, an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right. My own connection to Anjani began in July 2006 when I posted Music Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me, a review of Blue Alert that reflected my captivation with the music. An online flirtation and email relationship between us ensued.3

The Anjani Chronicles are a sequence of posts based on the content of my interviews with Anjani.

___________________________

The Anjani Chronicles – A Lapse Into Normality
From Which Anjani Recovers

Divorce, Depression, and Disaster

The Divorce
For Anjani, the period following her divorce from Robert Kory4 was primarily marked by playing in too many bands, performing at too many poorly paid gigs, and singing too many jingles. There were, however, some happier events amidst this dispiriting time in LaLa Land.

Anjani was invited back as a singer for Leonard Cohen during the recording sessions for I’m Your Man and The Future, experiences she found enjoyable and rewarding. The two of them also developed a casual friendship outside the studio, occasionally sharing a meal or meditating together.5

The Depression
It was also during this period that Anjani’s depression, which had plagued her almost continuously since age 13, spontaneously lifted without benefit of treatment of any sort. She simply arose one morning to find the world less oppressive, work and play more gratifying, and day to day functioning profoundly less difficult. The next day, however – well, it was even better.

The course of a depression such as Anjani’s, however, is largely independent of the course of ones life events. Just as an individual suffering from a Major Depression can be intensely despondent at a time when he or she is enjoying great success at work, healthy relationships, and winning the lottery, the lifting of a depression offers no guarantee that all will go well in, say, ones professional singing career.

Oh, About that Disaster, ..

Anjani Feels The Earth Move – And Not In The Fun Way

“After the big earthquake, I decided to leave LA,
to break out, to try and live like a normal person.”6

Disappointed by a lifetime of unrequited sacrifices and efforts to establish herself as a solo artist, playing in too many bands, performing too many poorly paid gigs, and singing too many jingles, and facing the prospect of an already declining Los Angeles market for jazz singers deteriorating further as a result of the financial havoc caused by the 1994 earthquake, Anjani surrendered the quest:

My story is the story of a lot of people in the arts. You don’t make it to the top just because you’ve got oodles of talent. In fact, some of the most talented people, you never hear about. I wish I could say I was one of those people who never gave up on the dream. I admire those people when they finally make it. But I was not one of those. I just said, ‘Man, it’s not happening. God’s not in this for me. I’m being turned down and turned away from it. I have to honor that. There’s something else I should be doing and I’d better find out what it is.7

And once again, a shift in Anjani’s direction in life is marked by a change in her geography.

From The City of Stars To The Lone Star State

Austin, Texas

She moved to Austin, Texas8 in order, as she put it, “to see what life was like on the other side, with health benefits, a stable job, a proper house. It was wonderful and horrible at the same time, simply because it was so against my nature.”9

The decision did make her folks, always anxious about her musical ambitions, happy.

During her time in Austin, Anjani held a variety of jobs, including salesperson (jewelry and shoes), waitress, and receptionist. While she describes herself as component in those positions, her predominant and longest lasting impression from the work is an enhanced respect for those who perform such tasks day in and day out. One result of this experience, she notes, is that she became and remains “a big tipper.”

During this period, she established a credit history and became a homeowner. She met people, made friends with the neighbors, and spent time roaming the hill country around Austin.

The Hill Country Near Austin

The real change was what she did not do – for five years she did not pursue a career as a professional musician: no weekend gigs, no checking on who might need a keyboardist, no practicing, no occasional off the books jobs playing lounge piano for tips, no music lessons taken or taught, no churning out dance music at weddings and anniversaries, no picking up new techniques, no hanging out with other musicians socially, …  .

For the first time since Anjani was a schoolgirl old enough to have aspirations for her future, her life did not revolve around her identity as a musician.

This was not, after all, a vacation from work This was a permanent change in her life.

Until, …

Another Trip, Another Epiphany

After a few years of the 9-5 life, Anjani made a routine trip to Hawaii to visit her family. While staying at her parents’ Honolulu home, she found an old guitar of hers stashed in a closet. Plucking the strings, she began singing and immediately, completely, and absolutely understood that it was time to return to professional music.

“How immediate, complete, and absolute was this reborn conviction?” one might hypothetically (and conveniently) ask.

In which case, the fortuitously omniscient narrator might well respond with “Sufficiently immediate, complete, and absolute that Anjani flew back to Austin, left her job, sold her house, and moved, once again, to Los Angeles.”

And Then?

Were this a fairy tale set in contemporary times, Anjani’s arrival on the west coast would trigger a series of successes en route to stardom. The movie version would perhaps signal this by a succession of headlines on the front page of Variety or the cover of Rolling Stone trumpeting her successes in various venues. Record deals, awards, and movie roles would follow.

Those paying attention will realize, however, that although the heroine of The Anjani Chronicles could pass as the beautiful princess, has had many adventures in exotic lands, and has even  kissed her share of toads in hopes of finding her prince, this ain’t no fairy tale.

But, more to the point, is there a happy ending in the making for our saga?

That is a matter for the next episode of The Anjani Chronicles – so, don’t be blue, but be alert.

_______________________

Preceding Anjani Chronicles Post: Escape From New York Meets To Live & Die In LA Meets Back To The Future

Links To All Previous Anjani Chronicles Posts: The Anjani Chronicles – Posts Published

  1. A more comprehensive version of this introduction was published in The Anjani Chronicles – Introduction []
  2. “Anjani” and “Anjani Thomas” are, for the purposes of the Heck of a Guy blog, synonymous names which refer to the 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 “Anjani’s” is referenced) 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 “Rose Kennedy” – 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. []
  3. These events and the aftermath are described at Anjani And DrHGuy FAQ. I’ve also published a batch of blog entries about Anjani and the Blue Alert album that can be found at Anjani Thomas. []
  4. See preceding Anjani Chronicles post, Escape From New York Meets To Live & Die In LA Meets Back To The Future []
  5. The perceptive reader will note this is an instance of Chekhov’s Gun, which, as Wikipedia explains, is the literary technique whereby an element is introduced early in the story, but whose significance does not become clear until later on. The name Chekhov’s Gun comes from Anton Chekhov himself, who stated that any object introduced in a story must be used later on, else it ought not to feature in the first place. Less perceptive readers will, one trusts, note the significance of this passage on perusing this thoughtfully placed footnote. []
  6. Anjani: Songs of love and Leonard by Nick Duerden. The Independent. 20 April 2007 []
  7. Dormant dream becomes reality By Paul Freeman. Palo Alto Daily News. May 4, 2007 []
  8. Why Texas? Because Anjani “liked Texas and felt like [she] might as well go someplace [she] liked.” Of course. []
  9. Anjani: Songs of love and Leonard by Nick Duerden. The Independent. 20 April 2007 []

The Next Anjani Thomas Album

Will Not Be Blue 2

Blue Alert II - NOT The Next Anjani Album

As I Was Saying To Anjanikins,

After receiving a dozen emails asking me about the long-impending Anjani album, I put into motion a cleverly devious investigatory strategy. Using a listening device that could also transmit, I surreptitiously dialed her number and slyly asked her “What’s up with the new album?”

Faced with that type of sophisticated interrogation, she soon spilled the beans.

Well, a few beans at least.

It’s About Time

Those of you who follow the adventures of Anjani may know that once upon a time in lala land, this album was originally scheduled for completion early this year. The rate limiting step, it turns out, was not writer’s block.

Psychiatrists use the term, “overdetermined” to indicate an effect (e.g., an emotion, an element of a dream) that has multiple causes, any of which might be sufficient to account for the effect. One might analogously consider Anjani’s efforts to develop the songs on this album overinspired.

In the past year, Anjani has sequentially invested herself in at least three distinct and independent projects she felt confident would result in an album.

The good news for those of us waiting for the final product is that it appears that none of these schemes were aborted because they were found to be unworkable but because a better concept came along.

The most recent delay has an odder origin.

After putting together a playlist suitable for the album, hiring musicians, and the 27,442 other details of creating a CD, including recording the tracks, Anjani, who had been working with a voice coach, found her vocal range and strength had improved so markedly that those already recorded songs possessed significant potential that could be realized only by reworking them and performing them with her newfound capacity.

Yep, the current wait is the result not of an entertainer’s injury or illness impairing the capacity to perform but because of an improvement in that entertainer’s skills.

With only moderate haranguing from me, Anjani volunteers a guarded, hedged judgment that the album will be released no later than the end of this year.

Content and Style

Anjani is less explicit about what the next album will be than what it will not be.

For example, Anjani’s next album will not be Blue Alert II. Blue Alert is a gorgeous set of songs that are so intrinsically private and powerful that it is impossible to imagine them being performed anywhere other than the most intimate venues.

Further, …

Anjani’s Next Album Will Also Not Be

Anjani, the first Anjani Thomas Album

Anjani, the first Anjani Thomas Album

… a reprise of her first album, Anjani (above) or her second, The Sacred Names (below), which was, like Blue Alert, produced by Leonard Cohen.

The Sacred Names, the second album by Anjani Thomas

The Sacred Names, the second album by Anjani Thomas

The new album will, in fact, be significantly different from any of her previous efforts.1

Anjani slots the songs in a genre once called “soft rock” – before that once highly valued category was subsumed and eviscerated by the amorphous blob known as “adult contemporary” – with portions of folk, world music, and jazz added to the mix.

Perhaps more intriguing than her precise words was Anjani’s enthusiasm about the forthcoming album. While she has never been less than gracious and generous when we’ve written or talked, this conversation was striking for the animation and genuine excitement she demonstrated as she spoke of the flow of the work and songs that wrote themselves, leading her rather than her constructing them.

More mundane but, I would contend, just as significant is the sustained and ongoing work that has been the hallmark of her involvement in this album. This is distinctly atypical of her usual style which she has outlined this way:

“I quickly discovered that I did not have the wherewithal to sit in a practice room for four, six, eight hours a day. This is not in my nature – and it has, unfortunately, continued to the present day. “I’m notoriously uninspired when it comes to practicing,” she said. “But give me a deadline and, two days before, I’ll sit down and work my butt off.”2

The most striking comment, however, occurred as our conversation was ending with bit of social chitchat (e.g., “How are the kids?” “How’s Leonard?” “Is the weather nice out there.?”). Anjani paused for a moment and, referring to the songs destined for the new album, commented, with a lilt to her voice,

It’s the kind of music that makes you feel like dancing
- and I want to feel like dancing.

It was the strangest thing, but I was absolutely convinced that dancing was exactly what she was doing that moment.

Which made me feel like dancing too.

  1. From her response to my suggestion, it also seems safe to rule out a Bluegrass tinged blend of ska, blues, and grunge performed by Anjani, Junior Brown, and Hannah Montana, backed by an 41 piece all girl, all accordion band. []
  2. Breathing easy in her own style by Bernard Perusse, The Gazette, June 1, 2006 []

The Anjani Chronicles: Escape From New York Meets To Live & Die In LA Meets Back To The Future

Introduction To The Anjani Chronicles1

Anjani2 is the exquisite, exotically featured singer and keyboardist best known for her Blue Alert CD, a collection of elegantly performed songs suffused with evocative lyrics, and her professional and romantic relationships with Leonard Cohen, an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right. My own connection to Anjani began in July 2006 when I posted Music Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me, a review of Blue Alert that reflected my captivation with the music. An online flirtation and email relationship between us ensued.3

The Anjani Chronicles are a sequence of posts based on the content of my recent interviews with Anjani.

_____________________

The Anjani Chronicles – Episode IV: Escape From New York
Meets To Live and Die In L.A. Meets Back To The Future

Now, Where Were We?

We last left our intrepid adventurer at John Lissauer’s New York loft, where she had just met Leonard Cohen. The post describing that encounter, The Anjani Chronicles: Anjani Goes To New York, Meets Leonard Cohen, and Finds Romance – But Not In That Order, ends with

That meeting led to Anjani performing background vocals on Cohen’s original recording of “Hallelujah,” joining the Various Positions tour as a keyboardist and vocalist, singing on subsequent Leonard Cohen albums, the Blue Alert album, and an intimate relationship between Anjani and Leonard Cohen.

The path to those end points from that first meeting, however, is not a straight line nor is the journey one completed quickly.

But, those are matters for another post.

Welcome to that “another post.”

To this point, we’ve watched Anjani grow up in Hawaii as a talented, music-obsessed youngster lugging a 150-plus pound Fender Rhodes Stage 88 to gigs throughout islands, followed her to Canada for her first full-time professional tour while still a teenager, tracked her to and from Honolulu several times, traveled along with her to Boston for her year and a half of advanced musical studies at Berklee, and sat in the audience as she became a regular in hotel lounge bands in Hawaii. When she was swept off her feet by a New Yorker she met while performing in one of those Waikiki clubs and decided to move to the town so nice they named it twice to be with him, we got on that Honolulu to New York flight with her – and were there a year later when the dissipated romantic liaison was replaced by an arrangement for her to temporarily share the apartment of a musician she had known in Hawaii. Throw in the five years she spent as temporary roommate, the batch of jobs she held during that time playing solo or as backup in clubs, all of which proved more educational than lucrative or career-advancing, the too many jingles she sang to pay the rent, the early stages of her relationships with John Lissauer and, through him, Leonard Cohen, and we find ourselves, along with our songstress, who is still a year or two shy of her 30th birthday, in the latter half of the 1980s.

Now, however, Anjani’s life is about to become hectic.


So, buckle up and stay alert. The route is a rocky and there are some sudden turns. Those of you prone to to motion sickness might want to apply a scopolamine patch before proceeding.

Going To The Chapel – And L.A.

Guess who got married? That’s right. In 1987, Anjani fell in love with and married Robert Kory, leaving New York to start their married life together in Los Angeles where he was based.

See what I mean about staying alert? You relax for a moment and within two lines of text, Anjani has moved across the continent and acquired a husband.

Eighteen months (and one sentence) later, the marriage is over.

But the story of Anjani and Robert Kory is somewhat longer and considerably more convoluted.

The Robert Kory Story

If it didn’t occlude the rhyme, the title of this section would be “The Robert Kory Stories” in keeping with the different portrayals one finds when attempting to figure out the kind of guy capable of bringing Anjani to the wedding alter.

A simple Google search reveals well, not much. Lawyers.com carries this outline of his professional qualifications:

Robert B. Kory (Member) born Nashville, Tennessee, May 23, 1950; admitted to bar, 1983, California. Education: Yale University (B.A., summa cum laude, 1973); University of Chicago (J.D., 1983). Member: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County and American Bar Associations. Practice Areas: Corporate Law; Entertainment and the Arts; Finance; Licensing.

A bit more can be gleaned from a story called Promises of a really big show, which was written by Patrick Dobson, a particularly determined reporter for a publication called The Pitch. From that February 10, 2000 article, I’ve excerpted the following:

Robert Kory is a Los Angeles entertainment attorney. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Yale University in 1973 and went on to the University of Chicago law school. According to various media sources, he became a devotee of Transcendental Meditation (TM), a program of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. … Kory worked for TM in the 1970s, and the program served as the foundation for six self-help books he wrote through the 1970s and 1980s, one of which is titled TM Program for Business People. … His first entree in local business came when he joined Michael Love, Thomas Hulett, and local businessman Gus Fasone in Sandstone Entertainment Group in the late 1980s. The company managed Sandstone and Memorial Hall in the early- to mid-1990s but ran aground financially and had to be bailed out by the Wyandotte County government. Beyond that description, the man behind the curtain is an enigmatic figure loved and cherished by his friends but largely unknown to his critics. [emphasis mine]

OK, that’s a bit exotic, what with the TM and all, but still within one standard deviation of the mainstream, especially given that the mainstream in question flows through Los Angeles.

It’s the tone of this and a few other articles that is ominous. The piece opens with these two paragraphs:

Near DeSoto, Kan., limousines, high-price suits, fancy pictures, and visions of glory and profit line the road Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow once tread. At the end of the road, a man still sits behind the curtain — only we Midwestern rubes have yet to be able to pull back the curtain.

For the past decade, officials at the Oz Entertainment Company, d.b.a. The Wonderful World of Oz, have impressed Kansas legislators and local and state business leaders with expensive renderings, tales of development, and the promise of making Kansas a giant tourist destination with all the big business opportunities and profits that goal entails. Meanwhile, Kansas’ state and local officials salivate at the prospect of increasing their tax revenue coffers. Even so, nearly every local official with an interest in knowing about Oz asks what’s become a standard question: “Who’s the man behind the curtain?” When it comes to Oz “visionary” Robert B. Kory, each layer of curtain is thicker than the last. Kory depends on some very savvy public relations people — and an office staff that pushes pretty pictures of what looks to be a very expensive amusement park — to help him stay under wraps. Moreover, it’s clear Kory doesn’t talk to the media. While trying to run down Kory, I ran squarely into Oz PR man extraordinaire David Westbrook of the high-power Corporate Communications public relations firm. He is an amiable, soft-spoken man who has worked for Kory on the Oz project since 1998. The first call I made for this story was to Westbrook. I called his office as many as three times a day over a 10-day period in an effort to get an interview with Kory.

The remainder of the essay is an exercise in building a case for misrepresentation and perhaps fraud against Kory and his partners, in large part by painting Kory as a man with something to hide.

Otherwise, Kory is referenced in a few Google hits, most of which are listings of the TM and self-improvement books he has authored. An article at Engadget.com, for example, lists him as a major figure behind Deep Light, a venture to produce TVs that display true High Definition 3D that doesn’t require special glasses. There are other bits and pieces here and there on the Internet, but that’s about it, except for those dealing with – well, we’ll come to that in a moment.

“It’s so cool when life comes full circle like that”4

So, here’s the situation: Anjani, a woman who extends herself to avoid even trivial conflicts, who focuses on her music and her spiritual core, and who has chosen a career featuring emotionally evocative public performances, marries an entertainment attorney, a profession almost synonymous with intense confrontations, who is secretive to the point of being considered mysterious and has been involved in at least one venture that some have tried to whip up into a scandal.5 This interesting coupling struck me as one that might be revealing, were one to be, say, writing a series of posts about Anjani.

My repeated efforts to explore this issue were, however, politely deflected by Anjani with remarks about her former husband that were universally and unequivocally positive but ambiguous. Finally, in preparing this post, I emailed the following query:

Re the ex-husband, – what was it about him that made you think he might be Mr. Right? I ask because, although he has been in the TM movement and was involved in entertainment law so I assume he was familiar with your field, most of what I read about him makes him sound very different from you. It seems likely that I’m missing something about him that you saw.

Anjani’s response follows:

He was Mr. Right, at the time. Robert is a very groovy guy, graduated summa cum laude from Yale… sweet, brilliant, ethical, and such a hard worker. So hard in fact, that i didn’t see much of him at all after we got married. So i got bored and returned to life as a gallivanting musician. And eventually he married a wonderful woman and they have two terrific kids. Now Robert is our attorney and business manager; it’s so cool when life comes full circle like that.

Hmmm. My guess is that those readers who did not already know that Anjani’s ex-spouse manages the legal and financial affairs for her and Leonard Cohen may now be suffering literary whiplash.

But, on consideration, one may realize that perhaps an entertainment lawyer handling the big bucks but otherwise routine affairs of a couple of romantically involved singers, one of whom was formerly his wife, may be statistically atypical but is not necessarily dramatic.

No, it isn’t dramatic – unless one is also aware of the near catastrophic financial straits in which Leonard Cohen found himself and which led to Kory’s involvement in his and Anjani’s life.

So, how’s that motion sickness patch holding up?

You’re sure? Because we’re going to be slammed through a time warp in a moment to cover Anjani’s “full circle” reference.

Lorca Cohen and Anjani Play Matchmaker For Leonard Cohen and Robert Kory

As most fans probably know, Leonard Cohen experienced a financial disaster that was some years in the making but which he discovered only in 2004. An admirably concise summary can be found in the May 21, 2006 Guardian article, Leonard Cohen: A troubadour at Charles’s court by Neil Spencer:

Leonard is broke, or to put it more properly, he’s been robbed. You may have followed this in the press, but the drift is, the songwriter was bilked out of millions due him by his former manager, Kelley Lynch. A true femme fatale, even though Cohen successfully sued Lynch (for $9 mil), she has ignored the suit.

It was in the midst of this fray that Robert Kory was hired, replacing Cohen’s former team of attorneys.

Kory’s hiring has been routinely noted in news stories of the court proceedings between Cohen, his former business manager, associated lawyers, and an investment firm. Often embedded in those accounts is an sniggering innuendo, such as in this excerpt from Hallalujah by Laura Bond published June 30, 2005 in the Denver Westword News:

Cohen soon got a new lawyer, Robert Kory, a Hollywood attorney known for his aborted attempt to build a Wizard of Oz theme park on a polluted ammunition plant outside of Kansas City. A former leader of the transcendental meditation movement, Kory shared Cohen’s interest in Eastern philosophy and his taste in women: Kory’s ex-wife is Cohen’s current girlfriend, the singer Anjani Thomas. [emphasis mine]

Well, it could, one supposes, have been worse. For example, the author could have made the insinuations even more blatant by adding something to the ending like oh, maybe a bit of leering laughter and a lewd comment: “Heh, heh, heh, heh – Cohen and Kory both had sex with the same woman – heh, heh, heh.”

The actual sequence of events that led to Kory representing Cohen is less titillating, which may explain why, as far as I can determine, it has never been included in the published stories until now, but it does have its own charms.

Less publicized is the fiscal crisis within the fiscal crisis Cohen was facing. It turns out that within a short time of pursuing the matter legally, Cohen’s funds are so depleted and his lawyers are so expensive that he would soon be unable to pay the professionals charged with protecting his interests.

In the midst of these problems, Leonard Cohen, Anjani, and Lorca Cohen, Leonard’s daughter, are discussing this looming and increasingly tempestuous financial maelstrom arising from the excessive legal expenses.

At that point, Lorca undergoes an epiphany expressed as an innocuous question addressed to Anjani: Wasn’t your ex-husband a lawyer?

Anjani responds that yes, her ex was indeed a member of the legal profession – which is how Anjani came to be phoning the man she divorced 15 years earlier to ask for his professional help.6

Consequent to that telephone conversation, Cohen and Kory meet and agree to work together. The ensuing legal battles are brutal, ferociously antagonistic affairs, replete with suits, countersuits, threats, demands, and accusations of blackmail, conspiracy, and worse. As noted in the quote from the Guardian, Leonard Cohen, represented by Robert Kory, prevailed in court although collection of the judgment remains a largely theoretical concept.

Nonetheless, winning a legal victory, even without the attendant spoils of war, beats the heck out suffering a legal defeat.

That win, Robert Kory’s ongoing role in the management of Cohen’s and Anjani’s business interests, and the fact that Anjani continues to speak well of her former husband would seem to fully justify Anjani’s observation that, indeed, “it’s so cool when life comes full circle like that.”

Back To The Past

Pressing reset on the Way Back Machine, we find ourselves, along with Anjani, back in L.A. at the end of the 1980s.

She has divorced and has once again taken up her quest to make it as a professional singer.

As Anjani explained to the interviewer in Anjani: Songs of love and Leonard (The Independent Friday, 20 April 2007),

Thereafter, now settled in Los Angeles, she tried to establish herself as a solo jazz singer. “But nobody wanted to know.” … Sometimes she’d make money playing LA’s jazz circuit, often making not much more than $30 a session.

And this is where we’ll leave Anjani for the nonce. But just in case anyone believes that the tempests are now past for our heroine, I offer this preview – the events that open the next episode of The Anjani Chronicles are the 1994 L.A. earthquake and Anjani’s decision “to live like a normal person.”

I know – it’s one of those weird but true things.

_______________________

Preceding Anjani Chronicles Post: The Anjani Chronicles: Anjani Goes To New York, Meets Leonard Cohen, and Finds Romance – But Not In That Order

Links To All Previous Anjani Chronicles Posts: The Anjani Chronicles – Posts Published


  1. A more comprehensive version of this introduction was published in The Anjani Chronicles – Introduction []
  2. “Anjani” and “Anjani Thomas” are, for the purposes of the Heck of a Guy blog, synonymous names which refer to the 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 “Anjani’s” is referenced) 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. []
  3. These events and the aftermath are described at Anjani And DrHGuy FAQ. I’ve also published a batch of blog entries about Anjani and the Blue Alert album that can be found at Anjani Thomas. []
  4. Yes, of course this is a quote from Anjani. Does something that optimistic sound like anything I would say? []
  5. I should point out that (1) I haven’t a clue about the validity of these claims made about his proposed amusement park and (2) this episode took place long after his marriage to Anjani was over. []
  6. The gravity of the situation notwithstanding, I admit to a voyeuristic curiosity about that call. How, for example, did Anjani open the conversation – “Bob, long time no see?” Now, admittedly, I could have just asked Anjani that question but I’m still enjoying the potential variations that occur to me too much. []

Biwa and Osamu Kitajima Debut On Heck of a Guy

Biwa Player

Osamu Kitajima With Backup and Introduction By Anjani

Excerpted from Mutant Sound:

Osamu Kitajima was born and raised in the beach town of Chigasaki, not far from Tokyo. As a young man he studied classical guitar and piano. His first band was the Launchers, led by his cousin, pop idol and actor Yuzo Kayama. The group disbanded in the late 1960s, after which Kitajima began to work on his own. He graduated from the prestigious Keio University in business, and also studied traditional Japanese instruments such as the biwa, koto and taiko drum. His first solo album in 1974, Benzaiten, was a mix of modern pop and traditional Japanese music, and was well received in Japan and later released abroad. It was released in the United States on Antilles, where it received some “underground” radio airplay and sold moderately well. … His most highly acclaimed album was 1986’s The Source, which won rave reviews around the world, including being called a “major masterpiece” by Rolling Stone magazine. Osamu Kitajima also expanded his work to include commercial and soundtrack work. He provided part of the music to the blockbuster mini-series Shogun and contributed to the soundtrack of Sharkey’s Machine. He also seems to be the “go to guy” for Asian themed movies, including the 1986 Pat Morita vehicle Captive Hearts and 1993’s Samurai Cowboy, which starred Hiromi Go. Kitajima has also done work for PBS documentaries on Japan, created the soundtrack to the Chinese/Japanese film Mandala and produced a number of like-minded artists. … Osamu Kitajima is featured on a number of compilations available in the States and Europe, and is generally considered a contemporary of Enigma, Deep Forest, Vangelis and Ottmar Liebert. In addition to his being a recording artist, producer, studio owner and label owner, Kitajima somehow found time to earn a doctorate in music therapy in 2004, and is thus now sometimes referred to as Dr. Osamu Kitajima. Kitajima is married to retired actress Yoko Naito. Their daughter Mai Kitajima married former Hikaru Genji member Mikio Osawa in 1996.

From Anjani,

This video was from our 1989 tour to Japan. Along with Osamu are Hiromitsu Nishikawa on percussion, the late Yoshizawa “Masa” Masakazu-sensei on shakuhachi, Freddie Ravel on keyboards, and me off in the shadows-playing those retro string parts. Osamu is a master biwa player. It’s such an unappreciated instrument and notoriously difficult to play: held upright in the lap and struck with a lacquered pick the size of a shark fin. We had a fantastic time on tour and ate incredibly well.
Osamu Kitajima – From Biwa To Electric Guitar

The 2008 Leonard Cohen Field Guide

The People & Places Associated With Leonard Cohen Today

A Leonard Cohen Primer1
The Not Too Big, Not Too Little, Pyritic Book Of Leonard Cohen

This chapter of A Leonard Cohen Primer introduces some of the individuals and locations that figure prominently in the contemporary life of Leonard Cohen. The names of these important people and places are identified in their first use in this post by being displayed in this version of dark red.

This should be easy going. There are lots of pictures, not much text, and only one tricky part (not to worry – I’ll warn you when it’s coming up.)

Anjani

The exotically beautiful,2 dulcet-voiced woman who often accompanies Leonard Cohen musically and socially is Anjani.3 (In the spirit of full disclosure,4 I have a thing for Anjani. Details are available at Anjani & DrHGuy.)

Since the mid-1980s, Anjani has worked a back-up singer for Cohen in the studio and on tours, where she also played keyboards.

A decade or so later, the two became lovers.5

Anjani is also the vocalist, writer, and arranger on Blue Alert, a CD produced by Cohen and composed of tracks based on remnants and fragments of his poems and songs.

Blue Alert, issued in 2006, is considered by many to be the most recent “Leonard Cohen album” in the sense that its style and lyrics resonate with his previous work although he does not perform on the recording.6

Home

When not performing or attending ceremonies in New York inducting Cohen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Anjani and Leonard Cohen spend most of their time in either Los Angeles, where they maintain separate apartments, or Montreal, which was Leonard Cohen’s home until his early 20s.

Leonard Cohen’s Family Home, Montreal7

Contemporary Montreal Skyline

The Poet’s Progeny

Leonard Cohen has two grown children. His son, Adam (born 1972), is also a singer.

His daughter, Lorca (born 1974), was named after the poet, Federico García Lorca. (Of course, mention of Federico García Lorca at this point is an instance of Chekov’s gun8 so there will be more about him later. For now, however, just keep Lorca’s namesake9 in mind for future reference.)

Lorca Cohen and Martha Wainwright

Many of the photos of Leonard Cohen, Anjani, and family friends that appear in published materials, CD cover art, etc. are the work of Lorca Cohen.

OK, here’s the part where you have to pay attention.

Suzanne

The mother of Adam and Lorca is Suzanne Elrod.

Now, even a new Leonard Cohen fan is likely to know his only commercial hit song was “Suzanne.” 10 You know the one, Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river / You can hear the boats go by / You can spend the night beside her … she feeds you tea and oranges / That come all the way from China … For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind … and so on.

Ah, see how things are already starting to link together?

Well, no, they aren’t – yet.

It turns out – and this may be hard to believe – Leonard Cohen knew at least two Suzanne’s.11 And, the tea and oranges Suzanne was not the mother of Adam and Lorca Suzanne.

The Suzanne in the song is Suzanne Verdal, who was married to a friend of Cohen’s and did indeed live on the waterfront. In fact, the lyrics of the song, Suzanne, including the local geography, match up well with the real life Suzanne and her situation.12

Note that the official The Leonard Cohen Primer Qualification Criterion for Leonard Cohen Fan, Novice Level is “Awareness that the song-Suzanne is not the mother of Adam and Lorca-Suzanne.” Recall of the Suzannes’ specific last names is not required at this level.

There is one other point of contention. A biographer of Cohen’s claims that Cohen and Suzanne Elrod were married while Cohen himself holds that there was no marriage. No one disputes the relationship existed or that Adam and Lorca are the product of the union, rendering the point trivial. It is acknowledged here only in hopes of preventing future confusion on the reader’s part from these conflicting claims.

Jarkko Arjatsalo, Webmaster – and De Facto Chief Curator, Head Archivist, Documentary Photographer, Fan Club President, Social Chairman, High Priest, Ringmaster, and Prime Minister Of Cohenatia

Leonard Cohen with webmaster Jarkko Arjatsalo
(Los Angeles, June 1999)13

In 1995, Jarkko Arjatsalo, an accountant from Finland, established leonardcohenfiles.com, a web site devoted to (duh) Leonard Cohen.14 In 1997, Leonard Cohen, then residing at a Zen monastery (more about that in a later chapter), contacted Jarkko about his unauthorized site – to offer to contribute unpublished poems, notebooks used to compose his songs, a passport from his student days, personal anecdotes, that kind of stuff.

That affiliation has persisted and appears stronger than ever. Leonard Cohen, for example, chose to officially announce his 2008 tour first at leonardcohenfiles.

While leonardcohenfiles is most often described as an “encyclopedia” of Cohen information, a more apt analogy would be to the Smithsonian Institute with a plethora of displays of widely varying but consistently fascinating content. Leonardcohenfiles now offers more than 800 indexed pages of material about Cohen and its 2.000.000th visitor landed on the site over a year ago.

Less heralded but of growing importance are Jarkko’s other roles, such as propagating other Cohen-dedicated web sites, whether as primary originator (e.g., leonardcohenforum.com) or as a facilitator for other members of the Leonard Cohen Web Ring. He has also been a prime mover in organizing meetings, conferences, and events celebrating Cohen’s work and serves as a communications network for Cohen fans.

end3

Coming Attractions
The next chapters will focus on earlier parts of Cohen’s career. These names, for example, are likely to make an appearance in the next posts:

  • Chelsea Hotel
  • Hydra
  • Mount Baldy
  • Bob Dylan
  • Lou Reed
  • Rebecca De Mornay
  • Judy Collins
  • Jennifer Warnes
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Sharon Robinson
  • Jikhan
  • Kelley Lynch

Next Leonard Cohen Primer Post: The Childhood Of Leonard Cohen

  1. A Leonard Cohen Primer is a simple, easy to understand introduction to Leonard Cohen for anyone who has recently tuned in to his music and for fans who may have listened to the songs for some time and now want to learn something about the singer-songwriter who produced them. The goal of this series of posts is to avoid both (1) overwhelming readers with details and tangents, however interesting those channels might be, and (2) omitting fundamental elements of Cohen’s life. []
  2. Although frequently described as “oriental,” Hawaiian-born Anjani is actually a blend of German, French, Okinawan, Irish, Welsh, and Dutch bloodlines []
  3. It is no secret that Anjani’s surname is Thomas; Anjani simply prefers to be known by only her Christian name []
  4. On a pragmatic level, anyone who has read more than a couple of my posts cannot avoid the fact that I rarely fail to disclose my feelings about Anjani []
  5. If “lovers” sounds awkward, feel free to substitute your preferred, equally awkward term, equally inadequate term: significant others, partners, girl friend and boy friend, … []
  6. Leonard Cohen’s most recent CD on which he performs is Dear Heather, produced in 2004. []
  7. This photo is from A Short Walk In Leonard Cohen’s Westmount, a web page which contains more photos of this home and a charming essay about the area, especially as it relates to Leonard Cohen growing up there and to references in his books, poetry, and songs. []
  8. “Chekov’s gun” references the playwright’s notion that “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” From Gurlyand’s Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 1904, No. 28, 11 July, p. 521. Preceding primary reference is from Wikipedia []
  9. One suspects that Lorca Cohen, however admirable she may find the poet for whom she was named, may well have grown less enthusiastic about inevitably being introduced in published material as “Lorca Cohen, who named after the … .” If so, I apologize for perpetuating the trend; it’s the kind of thing newbies need to know. []
  10. Suzanne (the song) soared as high as #83 on the US charts []
  11. OK, I am aware that he knew at least three Suzanne’s since he worked with singer Suzanne Vega. I’m just trying to keep things simple. []
  12. See the previous reference, A Short Walk In Leonard Cohen’s Westmount, for specifics. []
  13. Photo and caption from – of course – leonardcohenfiles.com []
  14. OK, I suppose one could make the case that leonardcohenfiles could have been a site about a guy named “Leonard Cohenfiles,” but that would be wrong. []