Tag Archives: Jennifer Warnes

Donna Washburn 1972 Leonard Cohen Tour Backup Singer – 1970? Not So Much

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 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]

As noted above, that same phrase,”backup singers Corlynn Hanney, Susan Musmanno, and Donna Washburn,” is found by Google at the official Leonard Cohen site, LeonardCohenFiles, LeonardCohenForum, and 1800+ other sites – including this one.

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


Albums As A Band Member

  • 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.

  1. Aileen and her husband, Elkin Fowler, guitarist during the 1970 tour have been especially useful in filling in the blanks about the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour. See Susan Musmanno, Corlynn Hanney, & Aileen Fowler – Leonard Cohen’s 2 Great Backup Singers In 1970. []
  2. 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. []

  3. Adapted from The Musicians’ Olympus []

The Way They Were – Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes

Photos Celebrating Jenny Sings With Lenny – Again

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.

Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Album To Feature Jennifer Warnes And Anjani

Old Friends, Old Ideas, New Leonard Cohen Album

Two exquisite female vocalists, each of whom has a long history with Leonard Cohen, including singing backup for him and releasing their own albums of his material, will appear on Cohen’s Old Ideas CD due to be published in Spring 2012.

Jenny Sings [With] Lenny

Jennifer Warnes, perhaps best known among Leonard Cohen fans for Famous Blue Raincoat, her album of Leonard Cohen songs, has told a concert audience she will appear on the Canadian singer-songwriter’s new album.1

An excerpt from a LeonardCohenForum post by JJR follows:

Last night I attended Jennifer Warnes’ concert in Edmonton. Jennifer was in terrific form and gave us an unforgettable evening of great music and stories. During the show she mentioned that she had been recording ‘recently’ with Leonard Cohen, saying that the results will appear on his new album, due next year.

A followup post in the same thread by Jarkko provides more details:

After so many years, Jennifer Warnes was back in the studio with Leonard, and she is singing on one of the tracks. Anjani and Sharon both have significant roles in many of those ten new songs.

Anjani Rates New Leonard Cohen Album “One of his strongest  records ever”

Leonard Cohen and Anjani at Joe's Pub (April 24, 2007)

Anjani has worked with Leonard Cohen since 1984, singing on tours and in the studio.  She and Cohen collaborated on Blue Alert, which was released in 2006.

On her Facebook page, Anjani responds to a question asking about the target date of her own new CD with the following:

... we plan to put it out soon after Leonard’s next release, early 2012. btw, i think it’s one of his strongest records ever, including a gorgeous cover of Crazy To Love You, one of my fav songs off of Blue Alert.

Credit Due Department: The photo of Leonard Cohen, Jennifer Warnes, and canine companion at the kitchen table is from LeonardCohenFiles. The photo of  Leonard Cohen singing with Anjani was found, along with a number of other striking photos of Anjani’s 2007 appearance at Joe’s Pub, at Brooklyn Vegan.

  1. In addition, The StarPhoenix has just published a sort of “where is she now” piece about Jenifer Warnes that addresses her special relationship with Leonard Cohen at In the midst of upheaval, Warnes reaches out by Cam Fuller (The StarPhoenix September 14, 2011) []

Video Back Online – Jennifer Warnes’ Way Down Deep & Leonard Cohen’s A Thousand Kisses Deep

Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen backstage (Santa Monica, February 24, 2001)

“Way Down Deep” + “A Thousand Kisses Deep” Video Returns

As is true of many Leonard Cohen songs, “A Thousand Kisses Deep” has a complex history. Tom Sakic and I thought it would be interesting to present the earliest performed precursor of this song juxtaposed with the most recent version.

The result was a striking video that opens with Jennifer Warnes singing the gorgeous but inexplicably overlooked “Way Down Deep” (credited to Jennifer Warnes, Leonard Cohen, and Amy Latelevision) from her 1992 album, The Hunter, which is followed by Leonard Cohen’s July 20, 2009 recitation of “A Thousand Kisses Deep” in Dublin.

Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen on tour 1972

The video was well received, garnering over 16,000 views. It was, however, off the air for several weeks until I re-uploaded it yesterday.

The original post with substantially more information about these songs can be found at From Jennifer Warnes Sings “Way Down Deep” To Leonard Cohen Recites “A Thousand Kisses Deep.”

The video itself can be viewed below.

From Way Down Deep By Jennifer Warnes To A Thousand Kisses Deep By Leonard Cohen


Credit Due Department: The photo atop this post showing Leonard Cohen visiting Jennifer Warnes backstage before her February 24, 2001 concert at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, California was found at the Jennifer Warnes web site. The second photo showing Warnes and Cohen on a plane is a screenshot from Tony Palmer’s “Bird On A Wire” documentary.

Let The Sunshine In – Durham 2011, Jennifer Warnes 1968

Shining, Gleaming,Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen, …

In commemoration of DrHGuy’s decampment to DPAC1 last night,2 to take in the Broadway Revival Cast presentation of Hair, Heck Of A Guy offers two videos.

Hair – Broadway Revival Cast (Letterman – 2009)

The first is a presentation of “Let The Sunshine In” performed by the current cast (the same crew who are currently playing in Durham) on Letterman.

Let The Sunshine In – West Coast Cast Of Hair (Smothers Brothers Show, December 1968)

The second video, chosen in a desperate attempt to link this post to Heck Of A Guy’s Leonard Cohen-loving mainstream audience, features the 1968, pre-Famous Blue Raincoat iteration of Jennifer Warnes3, who played the female lead in the original west coast cast of Hair and later became backup singer for, collaborator with, and interpreter of the afore mentioned Canadian singer-songwriter-icon, singing “Let The Sunshine In” on the Smothers Brothers show. Also spotlighted in this video is Delores Hall.

  1. aka Durham Performing Arts Center []
  2. DrHGuy was accompanied on this escapade by his trusty crew of Durham regulars: Duke of Derm, Princess of Peds, and Duchess of Durham. []
  3. Then known as Jennifer Warren []

Breadfruit Roasting On An Open Fire, Chocolate Vodka Brewing In The Dishwasher, Carols Being Sung By Leonard Cohen …

It Must Be The Heck Of A Guy Christmas1 Spectacular

Over the years, DrHGuy  has explored, as he is wont to do, the sleigh path less traveled to holiday revelry, and, not being the kind of chap to keep such joyfulness to himself, he annually shares with readers his favorite Yuletide embellishments.

Have Yourself A Chocolodka Christmas

Chief among these tidings of joy is the opening of the Season Of  Chocolodka. a time which offers hope to the weary masses and solace to all humankind.

In the spirits of the Season Of  Chocolodka, Heck Of A Guy Blog offers  …2


The Immaculate Chocolodka Conception

While the value of any substance called Chocolodka would seem intuitively apparent to any sentient adult, doubters should consider this confirmatory evidence: how could anything that begins in this manner go wrong?

Since the recipe calls for a three-quarters (¾) full 750 mL bottle of vodka, the first step, obviously,3 is someone sucking down ¼ bottle of vodka. While alternative means of removing the excess liquor may theoretically exist, personal consumption bespeaks a dedication to the mission & certainly enhances the likelihood of the project’s success. This is best accomplished in two consecutive motions as demonstrated in the photos below by Lady Lawanda and Hippie With Tiara:

The Vodka Swing


And The Follow-through


Repeat As Necessary

The Chocolodka Benediction

The original post with the full set of instructions for Chocolodka is at The Quintessential Chocolate Vodka – Chocolodka

Update: More Chocolodka

An instructional video is now available at How To Make The Original Chocolodka – The Video. Information about Chocolodka, including links to all Heck Of A Guy Chocolodka posts and recipes employing Chocolodka can be found at Heck Of A Guy Chocolodka Page.


Jennie & Lenny Go Christmas Caroling

Leonard Cohen MOJO Cover Proposal - Heck Of A Guy Graphics

Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes  Sing “Silent Night”

When mention of the Leonard Cohen- Jennifer Warnes rendition of “Silent Night”  was first made on this site in January 2007,4 many readers were taken unawares. And, each time since then allusions have been made to this event, still more folks are surprised. Consequently, it seems appropriate to once again present the historical data and, of course, the song itself.

Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes – Silent Night

Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes - screenshot from Bird On A Wire

This Leonard Cohen-Jennifer Warnes duet was recorded at the December 15, 1979 Brighton, England concert.5

Leonard Cohen & Jennifer Warnes – Silent Night

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Silent Night” by Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes can be downloaded without charge as part of  Another Other Leonard Cohen Album, a collection of unreleased Leonard Cohen songs.

Lady Lawanda’s Fine & Dandy Christmas Mix

Lady Lawanda,6  a talented singer, had a penchant for non-traditional Christmas music.  (Several of her friends and family have made the observation that this predilection for musical perversity manifested itself only after she met me.  Quelle coincidence, eh?)

A 2009 post, Lady Lawanda’s Sounds Of The Season – Christmas Carols On The Offbeat, lists several of her favorite selections and is highly recommended reading and listening for the melodically adventuresome. For our purposes today, a few examples should be sufficient to give a flavor of her seasonal playlist.

Christmas Soon Come

Lady Lawanda loved Jamaica, visiting often and virtually adopting a dozen or so Jamaicans she met in her travels. One of her favorite gifts was the Christmas Soon Come mix I made her. The first  track on that oft played CD was …

Breadfruit Roasting on an Open Fire (The Christmas Song) – Yellowman

Video from RastaClaus85

Hard Candy Christmas by RuPaul – Best Christmas Song Covered By A Drag Queen


#1 on Lady Lawanda’s Christmas Hit parade, however, was the cover of “Hard Candy Christmas” sung by RuPaul Andre Charles in his drag queen persona.

I admit that Lawanda’s fascination with this song seems silly at first, but, on reflection, the lyrics of the chorus were, after all, a description of the way she lived.

I’ll be fine and dandy
Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won’t let
Sorrow bring me way down

Hard Candy Christmas – RuPaul

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Cool Yule

Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt

“Santa Baby” was originally sung and recorded in 1953 by Eartha Kitt. And nobody does it better.
Video from ebbonknee

Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa

Video from soulservereu

Coming Attractions For The Holidays:

  • The go-to article on sugar plums
  • Much more Christmas music
  • DrHGuy on gift giving and gift getting
  1. Or Winter Holiday Of Choice []
  2. The announcement text reads: “The Heck Of A Guy Illustrated, Explicated, Annotated, & Unexpurgated Dishwasher Safe, Dishwasher Dependent Formulation For The Ultimate Solvent Of Anxiety, Woe, & Inhibitions, The Good Time-Enhancing, Courage-Bolstering, Someone’s Gonna Get Lucky Tonight-Assuring Quintessential Chocolate Vodka: Chocolodka.” []
  3. Well, it’s obvious to me []
  4. See Leonard Cohen On The Loose – Rare Concert Songs, Comments, & Covers By Leonard Cohen []
  5. Rare Live Songs []
  6. Lady Lawanda is the blogonym (and, I hasten to add, the self-chosen blogonym) of the woman in my life for three all too brief years until she died from breast cancer June 2008. She was a profoundly important and positive force in her community, the school where she taught, and the lives of her family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and my children. And, she was the center of my world . []