The Christmas-Hanukkah-Ramadan-Kwanzaa-Name Your Own Holiday Album Phenomenon
As ongoing readers may know, the Leonard Cohen Christmas album has yet to enter that notably diverse pantheon of holiday CDs that includes such specimens as Twisted Sister’s “Twisted Christmas,” Jethro Tull’s “The Jethro Tull Christmas Album,” “A John Waters Christmas” by various artists, Afroman’s “A Colt 45 Christmas,” and William Hung’s “Hung For The Holidays.”1
The Leonard Cohen Christmas Project
Leonard Cohen’s songs and albums are often the result of long gestations. “I’m Your Man” was an album three years in the making.2 “Hallelujah” alone, Cohen attests, took over two years to complete. “In My Secret Life” required 13 years to progress from conception to release – even with Sharon Robinson helping.3
Nonetheless, even Cohen’s most ardent fans can be forgiven if they despair over his Christmas compilation, which is now in its 32th year of preparation with only one song to show for the effort.4
Well, at least it’s a pretty good song.
Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes – Silent Night
This Leonard Cohen-Jennifer Warnes duet of Silent Night with Raffi Hakopian on violin was performed and recorded at the December 15, 1979 Brighton, England concert.5
There is no film of the performance itself; consequently, I’ve constructed a video montage of photos of Cohen and Warnes, drawings by Leonard Cohen, and a clip of a very young Leonard and his sister Esther skating to complement the music.
Download Silent Night by Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes
The audio recording of Silent Night by Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes used in the video is the same MP3 available as a track on the Another Other Leonard Cohen Album. Information about those songs and download instructions are available at the link.
Credit Due Department: The photo of Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes is by Claude Gassian and was contributed by Dominique BOILE. The shot of violinist Raffi Hakopian and Leonard Cohen is a screen capture from a video of Leonard Cohen singing “The Guests” that was originally broadcast on French TV on December 15, 1979 (see New Video – Leonard Cohen Sings The Guests, 1979). The image of the 1979 Brighton concert ticket was found at Ticket Collector.
I’ve tried suggesting a cover that might fit such an album. Heck, I even offered my own lyrics to “I’m Your Santa” – a “I’m Your Man” Meets “Santa, Baby” sort of hymn to the holiday – for the project. Inexplicably, Mr. Cohen passed on both of these efforts, which can be viewed at Leonard Cohen Christmas Album – Tracks 2 & 3. [↩]
“Show Me The Place” by Leonard Cohen With Jennifer Warnes To Begin Streaming Today
“Show Me The Place, the third track from Old Ideas is, according to Sony’s press release for the album, slated to stream from Leonard Cohen’s official site starting today. It is also available as an instant download (in MP3 format) for those who pre-order through LeonardCohen.com.
Patrick Leonard wrote, produced, arranged, engineered, programmed and performed the music.
Q: What tune was THE ONE that made you most proud?
A: I’m really fond of a song I recently wrote with Leonard Cohen. It’s called “Show Me the Place.” It’s impossibly simple. I don’t do pride. I believe it anchors one too much. I tend towards liking or being content with something rather than pride. I recommend it. Finding satisfaction, I mean.1
Lyrics: “Show Me The Place”
rpan posted lyrics for “Show Me The Place” (with this caveat: “I think these are the lyrics, one or two doubts”) at LeonardCohenForum. Update: Bev (aka B4real ) subsequently suggested a modification, which I have included below, changing the line “A shred of light” to “A thread of light.”
Show me the place where you want your slave to go Show me the place I’ve forgotten I don’t know Show me the place for my head is bending low Show me the place where you want your slave to go Show me the place help me roll away the stone Show me the place I can’t move this thing alone Show me the place where the Word became a man Show me the place where the suffering began ——————– The troubles came I saved what I could save A thread of light a particle a wave But there were chains so I hastened to behave There were chains so I loved you like a slave ———————- Show me the place where you want your slave to go Show me the place I’ve forgotten I don’t know Show me the place for my head is bent and low Show me the place where you want your slave to go ——————————- The troubles came I saved what I could save A thread of light a particle a wave But there were chains so I hastened to behave There were chains so I loved you like a slave ———————- Show me the place Show me the place Show me the place ——————————- Show me the place help me roll away the stone Show me the place I can’t move this thing alone Show me the place where the Word became a man Show me the place where the suffering began
Personnel for Old Ideas
As per the press release, the album “was produced by Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo. The album also features guest vocalists Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charley Webb) and Jennifer Warnes.”
Old Ideas Art
A LeonardCohenForum post by Jarkko informs us that
Leonard designed the cover, using a photo by Kezban Özcan. The CD booklet will be designed by Michael Petit.
Credit Due Department: The photo of Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes is by Claude Gassian and was contributed by Dominique BOILE. I was made aware of the interview with Patrick Leonard from which his quote was taken by a LeonardCohenForum post authored by Hartmut.
Jennifer Warnes, Leonard Cohen, Donna Washburn - Paris, April 18, 1972 (Photo by Claude Gassian from private collection of Dominique BOILE)
More Weirdness From The 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour
The final piece of the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour Backup Singers puzzle is the role Donna Washburn played as backup singer that year.
It should surprise no one who has been following the Heck Of A Guy account of the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour to discover that, notwithstanding reports found on the official Leonard Cohen site, LeonardCohenFiles, LeonardCohenForum, and 1800+ other sites – including the usually astute Heck Of A Guy – declaring that she served as backup singer at the most famous of Leonard Cohen’s 1970 concerts, the number of times Donna Washburn sang backup to Leonard Cohen in 1970 was zero, zip, zilch, nada, …
She was, however, a backup singer during the Leonard Cohen 1972 tour although she is overshadowed by Jennifer Warnes, Cohen’s other female vocalist that year. And, Washburn had an interesting professional career prior to 1972. But, first, let’s clear up the mistaken notion that she sang backup for Cohen in 1970.
Click on images to enlarge
Another Cautionary Tale About Internet-abetted Press Releases
The problem arises from the official blurb for the 2009 release of the Leonard Cohen Live At The Isle of Wight 1970 CD/DVD put out by Columbia/Legacy:
CD-DVD Cover art - Leonard Cohen Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970
This excerpt is taken from the copy of the press release from LeonardCohen.com but is identical to that found on hundreds of other sites:
The CD (and double-LP) of ‘Live At The Isle of Wight 1970′ represent the 77-minute concert set as performed by Cohen and his backup band: Bob Johnston (Cohen’s Nashville-based Columbia A&R staff producer), and Nashville musicians Charlie Daniels (electric bass, fiddle), Ron Cornelius (lead guitar), and Elkin ‘Bubba’ Fowler (bass, banjo). They were joined by backup singers Corlynn Hanney, Susan Musmanno, and Donna Washburn. [emphasis mine]
While my attempts to discover through official channels why Donna Washburn was credited as a backup singer on the Leonard Cohen Live At The Isle of Wight 1970 CD/DVD were unrequited, Aileen Fowler aka Susan Musmanno (backup singer, along with Corlynn Hanney, on the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour) offers helpful information:1
… there’s a third girl onstage in the Isle of Wight video; that was the only time I ever saw her. She was a friend of Ron Cornelius’s. I don’t recall ever seeing Donna except at the Isle of Wight. I am assuming that she is the girl sitting behind Ron in the video. She doesn’t appear to be miked, and looks like she is just jamming along. We never rehearsed with her. I can’t think that she would have been paid. And that was the only time she showed up on my watch. Why she got a backup singer credit for that performance at IOW is a mystery to me.
Donna Washburn (2nd from left) at Leonard Cohen Isle Of Wight Concert. Contributed by Dominique BOILE.
The screenshot below from the Leonard Cohen Live At The Isle of Wight 1970 DVD shows Donna Washburn (far left) behind Ron Cornelius (with guitar).
Donna Washburn (far left) behind Ron Cornelius (with guitar) at Leonard Cohen Isle Of Wight Concert 1970
The image below, also a screenshot from the same DVD, shows, from left to right, 1970 backup singers Corlynn Hanney and Susan Musmanno and 1972 backup singer to be, Donna Washburn.
Donna Washburn – The Real Story
According to Ira Nadel’s biography of Cohen, Various Positions (Random House of Canada, 1996), Donna Washburn and Jennifer Warnes auditioned for the 1972 Leonard Cohen tour in March 1972, two days before the band was to leave for Dublin. Cohen explained to both vocalists that
the reason I need girls to sing with me is that my voice depresses me. I need your voices to sweeten mine.
Tellingly, while Nadel goes on to discuss Warnes at some length in his book, the description of the audition is the only time Washburn is mentioned. She was credited as a vocalist on the 1973 album, Live Songs Leonard Cohen. But, Donna Washburn did exist – exuberantly at times – before she signed on with Leonard Cohen – or even visited his stage.
Donna Washburn - Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen Tour (Photo: Linda Wolf )
Donna Washburn BC (Before Cohen)
Donna Washburn’s professional music career began when she joined Dillard & Clark (Gene Clark, formerly of the Byrds) in February 1969 on guitar, tambourine, and vocals.2
She is credited on their second album, Through The Morning, Through The Night.
The intriguing part of the story, however, is how she came to the group and the consequences, as explained in this excerpt (click on image to enlarge) from Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life And Legacy Of The Byrds’ Gene Clark by John Einarson (Backbeat Books. February 1, 2005):
From Dillard & Clark to Mad Dogs & Englishmen
The Mad Dogs & Englishmen Troupe
In March 1970, she left Dillard & Clark to join the Joe Cocker-Leon Russell project, Mad Dogs & Englishmen as one of ten vocalists in the Space Choir, a group which also included Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear.
The final concert of that short-lived, high-energy tour was in San Bernardino, California on May 16, 1970.
Donna Washburn and Claudia Lennear (Photo: Linda Wolf )
Donna can be seen singing during this video of Cry Me A River performed by Joe Cocker during the 1970 Mad Dogs & Englishmen Tour.
As far as Internet sources are concerned, Donna Washburn seems to have disappeared since her 1972 stint with Leonard Cohen.
Leonard Cohen with band and backup singers, Jennifer Warnes & Donna Washburn
Through The Morning, Through The Night – Dillard & Clark (1969)
Mad Dogs And Englishmen – Joe Cocker (09/1970)
Live Songs – Leonard Cohen (1973)
Gene Clark And Doug Dillard – Dillard & Clark (1975)
The Last Of The British Blues – John Mayall (1978)
Compilations As A Band Member
Greatest Hits – Joe Cocker (1978)
The Anthology – Joe Cocker (08/1999)
Albums With Bandmates And Friends
Douglas Flint Dillard – Doug Dillard (1974)
Heaven – Doug Dillard (1979) Brenda Patterson – Brenda Patterson (1973)
Into The Purple Valley – Ry Cooder (1972)
Less Than A Song – Hoyt Axton (1973)
Brenda Patterson – Brenda Patterson (1973)
Road Songs – Hoyt Axton (1977)
Credit Due Department: Photo of The Mad Dogs & Englishmen Troupe credited to MGM; found at Harmonic Prospector. The photo of Leonard Cohen and his 1972 musicians near the end of the post was contributed by Dominique BOILE. Other photos credited as indicated in the text of the post.
Well, that’s the earliest date I can confirm that she worked as a musical professional. This excerpt (click on imae to enlarge) from Bobby Whitlock: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Autobiography by Bobby Whitlock, Marc Roberty, Eric (FRW) Clapton mentions a Donna Washburn who co-wrote a song with Leon Russell in or before 1967 [underlining mine]:
Unfortunately, I cannot confirm or refute that this is the same Donna Washburn who later sang backup for Leonard Cohen and worked with Leon Russell. [↩]
The news of Jennifer Warnes appearing on Leonard Cohen’s forthcoming “Old Ideas” album (See Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Album To Feature Jennifer Warnes And Anjani) led Dominique BOILE to provide a bevy of photos featuring the two singers. From that set, I chose these images because they seemed most interesting and were less likely to have been already seen by viewers. Click on images to enlarge.
Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post is by Claude Gassian. The second is by Betsy Annas. The third photo (Leonard Cohen in folding chair) is by Sharon Weisz. The fifth photo is by Kristen Dahline.
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
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.
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) [↩]
One reference page with links to the best and most useful Leonard Cohen online resources: discography, concordance, articles, press coverage, humor, ...
Latest Addition: Symposium for English Language Jewish Writers - June 7th, 1964 (audio recording) Leonard Cohen is a provocative member of a panel discussing what it means to be a Canadian, a Jew, & a writer.
Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1
This video features the first version of the song Leonard Cohen would later revise into "Chelsea Hotel #2" along with images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin - whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song, the Hotel itself, and other associated people & places.
Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen had a fling in the 1960s that, for unspecified reasons, was short-lived, with Cohen instigating the parting.
It was then and is now a complex connection. In 1988, Cohen said, I'm still very friendly with Joni - I had dinner with her before the tour, and I have the same admiration for her as you do. But I think it was Noel Harrison who came up to me in the LA Troubadour and said "How do you like living with Beethoven?"
Do I Have To Dance All Night Surpasses 70,000 Views
"Do I Have To Dance All Night" was performed many times in concerts but was never released in the US.
As part of my crusade to popularize this song, I've cobbled together 2 videos - one for the semi-funky 1976 version with Laura Branigan and one for the 1980 more gypsy, less disco version - that kinda sorta fit the music.
As of Dec 19, 2012, the video of the 1976 version of Do I Have To Dance All Night has been viewed 70,152 times.
This Heck Of A Guy compilation includes unreleased Leonard Cohen performances over a 30+ year period.
Track List: Vol 1
1. Feels So Good (The Other Blues Song)
2. Book Of Longing
3. The Darkness
6. Do I Have to Dance All Night (1976)
7. Blues By The Jews
Track List: Vol 2
1. Red River Valley
2. Never Got To Love You (Duet with Anjani)
3. Can't Help Falling In Love
4. Ride Around
5. The Union Makes Us Strong
6. We Shall Not Be Moved
7. To Love Somebody
8. The Hypnotist (Poem)
9. Chelsea Hotel #1
10. There's No Reason Why You Should Remember Me
11. Streets Of Laredo
12. Do I Have To Dance All Night (1980)
Now, Another Other Leonard Cohen Album, the second collection of unreleased Leonard Cohen songs joins the popular The Other Leonard Cohen Album to offer fans of the iconic singer-songwriter a total of 3 CDs of musical treats. Another Other Leonard Cohen Album includes the following tracks plus liner notes by Sylvie Simmons.
1. Je Veux Vivre Tout Seul
2. Kevin Barry
3. Die Gedanken Sind Frei
4. Store Room
5. As Time Goes By
6. Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on
7. Blessed is the Memory
8. Silent Night
9. Dead Song
10. Another Saturday Night
11. Ballad of the Absent Mare
13. The Butcher
14. Un As Der Rebbe Singt
15. Song to the Machines
16. If It Be Your Will
17. Thirsty for the Kiss
18. A Thousand Kisses Deep
19. I Tried To Leave You
20. Whither Thou Goest
21. Mr Cohen Must Be Going
Photos of or related to Leonard Cohen that fall into specific themes have been among the ongoing features at DrHGuy, HOAG's sibling site. Galleries displaying collected images of 3 of these themes are now available at
And We’re Still Making Love In My Secret Life – Julie’s Story & Video
... I never had a chance. I was - and this is the only word that fits - smitten. I still am.
She was smart and quick-witted, although it would take me 3 years to recognize that she was, in fact, much smarter than me, and then another 2 years to forgive her for that. She was also good-looking and unabashedly sexy.
And, we fell madly, irredeemably, unflinchingly in love.
Complementing the unlikely story of how Julie and I met, fell in love, and - 9 years, 2 husbands, 1 wife, and 2 careers later - got together to spend an outrageously wonderful 20 years together before her death, a video, set to the poignant "In My Secret Life" by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, is now available that evokes the role Julie, who died 10 years ago, continues to play in my life.