Whither Thou Goest was often employed by Leonard Cohen, who sang it a capella with other band members, as a concluding benediction to many of the concerts of his 1988 and 1993 tours.
Written by Guy Singer in 1954, the lyrics of Whither Thou Goest are derived from Ruth 1:16-17, which is the loving vow Ruth, a widow, makes to follow Naomi, who had been her mother-in-law, even though that meant leaving her own country and family. The King James Version of that scripture with Ruth’s pledge follows:
16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
This canticle, its intonations a particularly good fit with Cohen’s voice and phrasings, was resurrected for the Blue Alert concert tour with Leonard joining Anjani on stage for this final song.
And, although Whither Thou Goest continues to serve as a farewell blessing to the audience [at time of original posting: 2007], it is now also a strikingly tender and intimate song as performed by these two musicians.
Leonard Cohen & Anjani – Whither Thou Goest
Joe’s Pub, NYC: April 24, 2007
I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Apr 2, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric.