Anjani Thomas & Leonard Cohen
As most ongoing readers know, Anjani Thomas was hired by producer John Lissauer to provide backup vocals on Leonard Cohen’s Various Positions album and then went on to tour with Cohen in 1985 as his keyboardist and backup vocalist as well as contributing to I’m Your Man, The Future, Dear Heather and Old Ideas. She and Leonard were also romantic partners.
Anjani’s Blue Alert (2006) is an outstanding album comprising songs performed by Anjani, who also wrote the music, with lyrics by Leonard Cohen, This Warsaw radio performance was in support of that album. Among the tracks are two songs, Whither Thou Goest and Never Got to Love You, performed as duets by Anjani & Leonard.
Live at Studio im. Agnieszki Osieckiej, Polskie Radio Program 3 (a.k.a. “Trójka”), Warszawa, Poland, March 31, 2007
Anjani Thomas’ Blue Alert came out early in 2006. Then nothing. Other “divas” got the push instead. Corrine Bailey Ray comes to mind as the most recent. Thankfully she did a short tour of Europe with companion and friend Leonard Cohen who produced Blue Alert and wrote all the lyrics to the songs. One show was properly recorded and broadcast on Polish radio. This is it.
Thomas has an angelic voice diametrically opposite to Cohen’s smoker’s cackle. It’s so smooth you can’t believe she can sing Cohen. But this is no Famous Blue Raincoat a la Jennifer Warnes… Anjani rifled through Cohen’s old notebooks, found lyrics and poems and put them to music. This is late-night listening nirvana, combination of Anjani’s sexy, cool vocals with Cohen’s always subversive lyrics… Perhaps it is best to let Leonard Cohen describe what’s found here:
“It’s a great privilege and a great honour for us to be here. We were here 22 years ago. There were brave men in prison. There were people under house arrest. There was the Heavy Hand over the society and over the culture. And here today, 22 years later, they’re calling this the ‘New Paris’. Warsaw is the new Paris. Well, maybe Warsaw doesn’t want to be the new Paris? In any case, we don’t live in Warsaw, we don’t live in Paris although those geographies may define our actual location. We live in other places that are more intimate and more real and more authentic than whatever the official culture defines us as. I was reading in Milosz’s book today… just one beautiful paragraph… He says:
“Man has been given to understand
that he lives only by the grace of those in power.
Let him therefore busy himself sipping coffee, catching butterflies.
And whoever cares for the republic will have his right hand cut off.
There is so much death and that is why affection for pigtails,
bright-coloured skirts in the wind, for paper boats no more durable
than we are.”(*)
(*) an excerpt from Polish poet and 1980 Literary Nobel Prize Award laureate, Czeslaw Milosz’s “Alfabet Milosza” (1997).
“And then the poem just drifts off. And it’s in that drifting off that these songs that we have tonight are written… The songs not of great love,… songs that address the great bewildering challenges of today whether they’re global warming of the clash of civilizations or the resolution of all the horrendous conflicts that beset us. These are songs that Anjani and I wrote about the little places, about the little loves, about the little corners.”
Leonard Cohen understands that only with love can true art be formed. State-sponsored, government-funded artists can bring forth no art at all. Just the sound of heavy propaganda, hammering away at all opposition.
Hear Anjani Thomas & Leonard Cohen 2007 Poland Blue Alert Show
Note: The video opens during Leonard Cohen’s introduction
Track 01 Marek Niedzwiedzki introduction (3.3MB)
Track 02 Leonard Cohen introduction (7.6MB)
Track 03 Blue Alert (Leonard Cohen/Anjani) (11.0MB)
Track 04 The Golden Gate (Leonard Cohen/Anjani) (6.4MB)
Track 05 Half the Perfect World (Leonard Cohen/Anjani) (8.9MB)
Track 06 Innermost Door (Leonard Cohen/Anjani) (8.2MB)
Track 07 No One After You (Leonard Cohen/Anjani) (8.1MB)
Track 08 (band credits) (1.9MB)
Track 09 Never Got to Love You (Leonard Cohen/Anjani) (10.1MB)
Track 10 Thanks for the Dance (Leonard Cohen/Anjani) (6.1MB)
Track 11 Whither Thou Goest (Guy Singer) (6.5MB)
Track 12 Nightingale (Leonard Cohen/Anjani) (5.3MB)
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 June 7, 2017.