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
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
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
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 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.
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.”
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
- A more comprehensive version of this introduction was published in The Anjani Chronicles – Introduction [↩]
- “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. [↩]
- 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. [↩]
- See preceding Anjani Chronicles post, Escape From New York Meets To Live & Die In LA Meets Back To The Future [↩]
- 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. [↩]
- Anjani: Songs of love and Leonard by Nick Duerden. The Independent. 20 April 2007 [↩]
- Dormant dream becomes reality By Paul Freeman. Palo Alto Daily News. May 4, 2007 [↩]
- Why Texas? Because Anjani “liked Texas and felt like [she] might as well go someplace [she] liked.” Of course. [↩]
- Anjani: Songs of love and Leonard by Nick Duerden. The Independent. 20 April 2007 [↩]