Whither Thou Goest, was often used 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 Cohen 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], now it is 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
Note: Originally posted Apr 2, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox
Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. There was “The Great Pretender,” “Cross Over the Road.” I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.
– Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)
Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at The Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.
Renik Van den Eynde points out that Leonard Cohen’s admiring use of Dylan’s lyrics from The Ballad Of A Thin Man qualifies it for Leonard Cohen’s jukebox:
I don’t know what is happening, and I don’t care what is happening, to tell you the truth, it’s none of my business. I know that the explanations that are available have their various degrees of interest, but nothing seems to be speaking to me personally about what is happening. I tend to, you know, let my attention wander from the various channels of information, whether they be newspapers, television, art, song, literature and even conversation; so something is happening, as Dylan says, but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones. So that’s the way I feel. So what is happening or what has happened to me or my writing or my lyrics, I’m not interested in the explanation, even my own, I’m only interested in the feeling that is just answering the appetite to describe moments and feelings that somehow has not been described in what is available.1
The referenced Dylan lyrics follow:
Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?
You raise up your head and you ask, “Is this where it is?”
And somebody points to you and says, “It’s his”
Bob Dylan – Ballad of a Thin Man
Desert Trip, Coachella: Oct 14, 2016
Bob Dylan Songs On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox
- Bob Dylan’s “I And I” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox
- Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox
- Bob Dylan’s “Brownsville Girl” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox
- Bob Dylan’s “Ballad Of A Thin Man” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox
Leonard Cohen-Bob Dylan Interface
Video by Adrian22
Note: Originally posted Oct 9, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The Cohen-Dylan Interface
All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at
Charley & Hattie Webb Keep On Dancing
As shown in the animation atop this post, the Webb Sisters are still into acrobatic dancing as well as backup vocals (there have been no reports of cartwheels). The excited gyrations in the gif are from the video embedded below. A couple of notes on the sisters joining Petty’s tour follow.
Petty strummed the opening chords on acoustic, with airy harmonies from the Webb Sisters (“our newest friends,” as he referenced Hattie and Charley Webb, who are providing background vocals for the shows). He noted that their presence fulfills his longtime wish to be able to tour with the duo, known for its own work as well as touring with Leonard Cohen … . They sweetened the mix, something they would also repeat subsequently on “Learning to Fly.”
From Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Celebrate Their 40th Anniversary with a Rousing Performance at the Q by Matt Wardlaw (Cleveland Scene: June 11, 2017)
Arms wide open at every turn as if to bear hug the arena itself, thank yous pouring from him profusely, the frontman sported a beatific glaze behind his dark sunglasses, almost waltzing about the stage at times, while waving his hands maestro-like and slowing time somehow – orchestrating the adore. Solos extended, arrangements elasticized just enough for discharged Leonard Cohen backup singers Hattie and Charley Webb (who barely needed the boss man on “Don’t Come Around Here No More”)
From Tom Petty Soaks in 40 by Raoul Hernandez (Austin Chronicle: May 3, 2017)
Tom Petty – Don’t Come Around Here No More
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City: April 20, 2017