Tag Archives: Anjani Thomas

Leonard Cohen and Anjani Intimidate

Leonard Cohen’s Back – As Seen From The Good Seats

This photo, from an October 11, 2007 post, was itself interesting enough to catch my eye. The blogger, seated behind Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas, has, obviously, snapped a photo from his perspective.

In the title of his post, he identifies Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas. Below the photo, he enters only the brief, self-effacing text, “Yes, I was pretty intimidated …” followed by his signature, “Craig.”

That is a nicely done, clever blog entry.

The post, however, gains another a level of complexity and impressiveness when seen in its entirety, as in the screenshot below.

Oh, That Craig

“Craig,” it turns out, is Craig Alexander Newmark, as in the Craig, as in the founder of Craigslist, the handy to the point of indispensable online amalgam of classified ads, online community, forums, and more with estimated revenues of $25 million in 2006 to possibly $150 million in 2007,1 posting in cnewmark, his personal blog.2

Well, Craig might have been intimidated, but if I had been there it would have been, I assure you, a different story.

Yep, I’d be the guy intimidated by the guy intimidated by Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas.

  1. Revenue estimates are from sources quoted in Wikipedia, which is also the reference for the following data: Craigslist, a throwback, in many ways, to the earliest online, Whole Earth Catalog-flavored communities such as the WELL, and Usenet, began as a list of social event around San Francisco now operates in approximately 450 cities in 50 countries and serves over five billion page views per month to ten million unique visitors. With over ten million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over 500,000 new job listings each month. The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements, to personal ads and even erotic services. []
  2. While Craig’s post doesn’t specify the occasion, my best guess is that it was the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass’s Book of Longing based on Leonard Cohen’s book of poems performed October 9, 2007 at Stanford. []

Anjani And Leonard Cohen's Girlfriend

Leonard Cohen, Anjani Thomas, and Blue Alert Makes Three

Although Kitty Empire’s CD of the Week column in The Observer featuring Anjani’s Blue Alert album, Songs for small-hours lovers, was published April 29th, 2007, I only now happened onto it, which is a shame, because the review is not only well written and on point, but it also speaks to a key issue about this CD in particular and Anjani’s performances in general that is routinely ignored or, worse, thoughtlessly dismissed.

After an introduction to Anjani and the obligatory recital of the events that led to the album,1 Ms Empire gets it exactly right when she calls Blue Alert a “minimalist jewel of a record” and a “classic small-hours album.”

And, I’m taken by her characterization of the songs themselves:

Of all pop’s poets, Cohen understands the contradictions of romance: ‘I had to go crazy to love you/ You who were never the one/ Whom I chased through the souvenir heartache …’ is not a line you’ll find on a Robbie Williams record. Sin and salvation are, for once, not on the agenda. Instead, the songs focus on goodbyes (‘You won’t hear my voice till it’s far, far away’) and fidelity (‘I taught the Kama Sutra but I never loved before’).

But, it is the last line that is, if not sui generis, certainly atypical among reviews of Anjani’s work; it also happens to be precisely correct in concluding

It’s [the music is] often sad, but by shaking off the melodic restrictions of those lugubrious vocals, Anjani has arguably done more for her man than any previous muse or collaborator. [Emphasis mine]

The Impending Fearsome Soliloquy

Somewhere deep within the recesses of my archipallium, a diatribe has been brewing, becoming progressively more savage and less forgiving each time I read a review of Blue Alert that points out something on the lines of “being Leonard Cohen’s girlfriend is a pretty sweet deal” or “Being Leonard Cohen’s girlfriend brings certain advantages.”

I purposely selected those two quotes because the articles from which they are extracted laud the album and specify, indirectly in the case of the first quote and literally in second, that Anjani is “more than just a famous man’s girlfriend,” which at least indicates that the writers mean well although the end result smacks of a left-handed compliment.

Other, more negative critiques are easy enough to find,2 but the point I want to emphasize is that declaring that “Anjani is not just Leonard Cohen’s girlfriend”3 is not only insufficient but, until there are articles headlined, “Leonard Cohen is not just Anjani’s boyfriend,” implicitly diminishing.

Anjani

Anjani Thomas and her boyfriend

Kitty Empire’s simple observation that “Anjani has arguably done more for her man than any previous muse or collaborator,” is invaluable because it sets up the proposition that Leonard Cohen profits from Anjani’s contribution to the collaboration rather than Anjani being only the lucky beneficiary of the connection.4

I am assiduously reorganizing and revising my afore mentioned diatribe in hopes of developing it into a coherent, constructive post showcasing a vocabulary and tone that won’t prompt an admonitory phone call from my mother.5 Until then, I can share only this small, condensed portion of my argument that I rendered sufficiently venom-free to post as a comment to a commendatory review of Blue Alert at Every week i spend too much on music and make a CD tower:

I agree with your assessment that Anjani is too cavalierly compared to Norah Jones – and Madeleine Peyroux and Diana Krall and … . The associations between Anjani and these estimable vocalists as well as the half-dozen other female singers similarly referenced are too facile by half. These comparisons are as accurate and as helpful as comparing Leonard Cohen to Junior Brown because they both sing in lower registers. The preceding observation will have to serve as a sloppy segue into my other pro-Anjani rant: my contention is that her biggest break in her career is that she’s Leonard Cohen’s girlfriend; her biggest burden in her career, however, is that she’s Leonard Cohen’s girlfriend.

____________________________

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. This is the same gestational process that 90% of the hacks writing about Blue Alert have described, including one DrHGuy, whose prose in his July 2006 post, Music Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me, indicates that this was, even then, old news:

    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?” (I guess she didn’t know that Lenny is always saying stuff like that, just goofing around) 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.

    It is a great musicological and human interest story but perhaps the hot-shot reviewers should at least acknowledge that it’s one known to fans already and perhaps even consider treating it in a manner that precludes its deflection of attention from a central focus on the music itself. They could, oh I don’t know, maybe make it a footnote – metaphorically, of course. []

  2. There is, one hopes, an especially nasty bit of hell set aside for those buffoons on blogs and online music sections of print periodicals who made the presence of Leonard Cohen the litmus test of a successful Anjani performance. Some even issued “warnings” that Cohen would be absent at one performance or another. (Just to clarify, I’m as greedy as the next guy so if you are planning an Anjani concert as a surprise gift for my impending birthday, I definitely want Leonard Cohen to attend as well – and I’d also like Springsteen to show up with the E Street Band. Don’t forget Simon & Garfunkel, Leon Russell, Willie Nelson, The Mountain Goats, Prince, Dylan, and, of course, Various Artists. That should cover the first show; I’ll get back to you about the midnight appearance and the matinée. Hoping Leonard Cohen shows up is one thing; valuing an Anjani performance only as a way to sneak into a Leonard Cohen concert is something quite different – and despicable.) []
  3. At one point, I chose domain names for blogs I considered spinning off from Heck of a Guy that would be dedicated to posts about Leonard Cohen and Anjani. The Leonard Cohen domain was to have been “cohenthusiast.com” and the Anjani domain was to have been “notjustleonardcohensgirlfriend.com” []
  4. Leonard Cohen, by the way, seems to be one of the few individuals who recognize this side of the equation. []
  5. Mom still doesn’t go online but she has plenty of friends who do, including some who would rat me out to her in a moment. []

Old Navy Ad Features Blue Alert

Blue Alert From Anjani & Leonard Cohen Now On Prime Time TV – Commercials

Old Navy Blue Alert

Anchored to my walker, I have regrettably increased the time I spend watching TV or, more accurately, being in the same room with a TV playing. Today, in the midst of a rerun of “My Name Is Earl,” I found myself humming along to Blue Alert, did a double take, and realized that the source of the song was an Old Navy commercial .

Knowing that Leonard Cohen songs (Blue Alert is, of course, a song produced by the collaboration between Anjani Thomas and Leonard Cohen) have rarely appeared in advertisements, I began searching for details but have found little information, at least in my initial forays, beyond what I directly observed, i.e., a 30 second version of Blue Alert is part of the advertising program for Old Navy’s “New Denim” Jeans.

Singer Tentatively Identified As Madeleine Peyroux

At this point, I am, in fact, unable to obtain official confirmation of the identity of the singer performing Blue Alert on the commercial although my belief and the clear consensus of Heck of a Guy readers is that Madeleine Peyroux, who covers Blue Alert on her album, Half The Perfect World, provides the vocals on this ad.1

Watch The Commercial

To view the commercial, got to http://www.oldnavy.com/ and, at this screen, click “Check Out Our TV Ad” (see area circled in yellow):

The Flirt

Note that the line from the song, “You’re such a flirt,” is sung simultaneously with the video sequence focused on Old Navy’s “Flirt” style of jeans.


____________________________



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. This sentence has been revised from the original post to clarify the distinction between who the singer is believed to be and any official confirmation of this identification. The sentence originally read “At this point, I am, in fact, unable to obtain confirmation of the identity of the singer performing Blue Alert on the commercial.” As of this date, 12 August 2007, I still have no official identification of the singer although, indeed, almost all readers who have emailed me or left comments name Ms. Peyroux, whom I also selected, as the most likely candidate. []

Leonard Cohen, Anjani, Blue Alert, And More In Telegraph Article

Cohen – With A Dash Of Honey

“Life Of A Ladies’ Man”1 wasn’t the only newspaper Arts section story about Leonard Cohen published on 26 May 2007. Cohen – with a dash of honey, a straight-forward feature story by Neil McCormick in the Telegraph, focuses on the relationship and mutual musical efforts of Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas.

The tale of the creation of Blue Alert is well written, and while the story has previously appeared in other publications, this article includes a number of details that were new to me (although they may well be in print somewhere).

As a bonus, there is timely news about the upcoming Leonard Cohen album:

Cohen has been working on his own album (released later this year), and admirers will be pleased to hear that he has responded to Anjani’s more organic recording methods, abandoning the synths and drum machines of recent years to return to the joys of real instrumentation: “He has picked up the guitar again, and swung around to the idea of bringing in people to play.”

In contrast to Blue Alert, however, the subject matter is unlikely to be the human heart. “No one describes pain, loss, despair and grief as well as Leonard does. But it’s not where his intention is right now. The material he is choosing is much more social commentary-driven, which makes this record kind of a miracle, because without it these songs wouldn’t have been born.”

The Telegraph article can be found at Cohen – with a dash of honey


  1. See previous post: On Considering Leonard Cohen – A Prose Poem By Sarah Hampson []

Sarah Hampson On Leonard Cohen – And Sarah Hampson

The Lady and The Ladies’ Man

The Arts section of the 26 May 2007 Globe & Mail features Life of a ladies’ man, an extensive article about Leonard Cohen by Sarah Hampson.

One could argue – and I do – that a more accurate characterization would be “an extensive article about Leonard Cohen and Sarah Hampson by Sarah Hampson.” This excerpt contains the lede and second paragraph:

The park is like a poem: self-contained and spare. Smokers sit on benches in the morning drizzle. Pigeons swoop over a small gazebo, under the limbs of stately trees. There is a solemn-looking house, three storeys high with a grey stone facade. It’s the only one that faces this park in the east end of Montreal, and it’s his. There are two big front doors, side by side. No numbers. No bell. No indication which one is right. You just pick, and knock.

There is more than one way into the world of Leonard Cohen, and on this day in late April, they are all open.

The article continues like this for another 3531 words, if my word processor’s statistics function is accurate.

It seems like more.

The article is replete with Ms Hampson’s self-references, thinly and annoyingly veiled by the pseudo-second person voice1 the author affects, perhaps in a failed attempt to camouflage the narcissistic taint of her writing that would be blatantly apparent in a conventional first person narrative.2

He [Cohen] will entrance you in the stillness of a moment that stretches to five hours, and in the end, because you happened to ask, playfully, he will say sure, come back any time for a soak in the claw-footed tub, one of several in his house, that sits in a closet of a bathroom under the slope of the stairs.

One can imagine my disappointment that the next paragraph did not, as I anticipated, begin “You feel pretty, Oh, so pretty, You feel pretty and witty and bright!”

The reader is treated to profundities such as

Every question, he greets like an invitation to make himself understood. Leonard Cohen, the icon, is a concept he likes to toy with, as if it is both him and not.

Translated into prose, these sentences (I think) become When asked what kind of person he is, Leonard Cohen responds with answers about what kind of person he thinks he is. And, he is willing to talk about the difference between the role he plays as a performer and his role as a private individual.

Allusions to a special, shared intimacy stud the paragraphs.

Don’t ask how the subject of casual sex in the sixties came up. It was part of the unfolding of the Saturday afternoon, the laziness of it, like an endless meal of many courses, which you keep expecting to end but never does. You cover one subject, and thank him for his time, thinking he may be tired of talking now, but he doesn’t take the opportunity to say goodbye. “Here, relax, eat,” he will say. “Have more wine. Would you like a piece of cherry pie?” And then the conversation continues.

I, for one, wasn’t going to to ask “how the subject of casual sex in the sixties came up,” rendering this instruction not only rhetorical but also superfluous – oh, and irritating.

I could go on; Ms. Hampson certainly does.

And perhaps I’m just cranky today. Others may enjoy the rococo prose that finds significance in every artifact observed and every name dropped:

Over a bottle of Château Maucaillou, Greek bread, a selection of Quebec cheeses and a fresh cherry pie, bought for the occasion from the local St-Laurent Boulevard merchants, you learn that he prefers to sleep alone; that he is no longer looking for another woman; the real reason he secluded himself in a Buddhist monastery for almost five years; and that a small, faded portrait of Saint Catherine Tekakwitha, the 17th-century native woman and heroine of his novel Beautiful Losers, hangs on the wall in his kitchen, above a table holding a fifties radio and a telephone with on oversize dial pad.

In any case, there are some interesting tidbits and numerous Leonard Cohen quotes that make feeling ones way through this barrel of stylistic molasses worthwhile.3

Diabetics, however, may wish to increase their insulin dosage before beginning the piece.

end3

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. The article does lapse into first person in at least one instance: “If you could have it [sex] so much,” I ask, “didn’t that devalue it?” The implications of that query being written in a different voice than the others are too discomforting to contemplate. []
  2. Narratives written from a second person point of view are notoriously difficult to construct but, if successful, reward that investment by engaging the reader intimately into the moment being described. Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler is a prime example. The brittle version of second person used in this article is to Calvino’s masterful implementation of second person as Lean Cuisine is to a seven course Degustation at Charlie Trotter’s – if the Lean Cuisine is still frozen. []
  3. Criticisms of this sort inevitably compel someone to issue a challenge along the lines of “Think you could do better?” For the record, if the question is “could I write a better essay on Leonard Cohen,” the answer is “Yep.” To be fair, however, I doubt that I could write as wondrous a panegyric to Sarah Hampson []

Leonard Cohen and Anjani Duets Video

Leonard Cohen Presents Anjani At Joe’s Pub, New York

Dick Straub, who shares with me a sojourn in Oklahoma, an admiration of John Irving, and a passion for the music of Leonard Cohen & Anjani1 has passed along this link to the video of the recent performance of the duets, Never Got to Love You and Whither Thou Goest, at the “Leonard Cohen Presents Anjani” concert at Joe’s Pub in New York.

Never Got To Love You and Whither Thou Goest

Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post and several other equally striking shots from the Joe’s Pub performance can be found at BrooklynVegan

  1. 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. []