“Cohen – With A Dash Of Honey” Illuminates Leonard Cohen-Anjani Blue Alert Collaboration

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I think both of us were working at the top of our form. Collaboration is too formal a term to describe the activity, which was an expression of some kind of deep mutuality – some kind of marriage of purpose.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen on working
with Anjani on Blue Alert

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Note: Originally posted May 27, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Cohen – with a dash of honey is a straight-forward feature story by Neil McCormick, published in the May 26, 2007 issue of The Telegraph, that focuses on the relationship and mutual musical efforts of Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas.

The tale of the creation of Blue Alert is well written and informative. The following excerpts are representative (the quotation included in the first excerpt is by Anjani):

The melancholic ballad Never Got to Love You is made up of unused verses from Cohen’s apocalyptic drinking classic Closing Time (from 1992’s The Future). “He gave me sheets of them and I just took ones I liked, and sometimes I took two lines from one verse and two lines from another, and designated one as the chorus and pieced it together.”

“What I strove for was an airtight marriage between music and lyrics,” says Anjani. “I hope I didn’t interpret. I didn’t want you to be driven out of your realm of attention by the voice, which is why there aren’t vocal flourishes. The lyrics are so great, they don’t need embellishment.” She was aided in this by Cohen, who produced the album. “I was cut off from all the tools I have by Leonard. He said ‘Sing… but don’t.’ “

As a bonus, there is timely news about the upcoming Leonard Cohen album:1

Cohen has been working on his own album (released later this year), and admirers will be pleased to hear that he has responded to Anjani’s more organic recording methods, abandoning the synths and drum machines of recent years to return to the joys of real instrumentation: “He has picked up the guitar again, and swung around to the idea of bringing in people to play.”

Update 30 April 2016: That studio album to be “released later this year [2007]” was a tad tardy in appearing. The Old Ideas album was released January 2012.

The entire Telegraph article is well worth reading and can be found at Cohen – with a dash of honey

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  1. Well, it was “timely news” when this was posted on May 27, 2007 []

Video: Leonard Cohen Performs If It Be Your Will With Anjani Thomas – Warsaw 1985

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I don’t know which side anybody is on any more. I don’t really care. There is a moment when we have to transcend the side we’re on and understand that we are creatures of a higher order. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish you courage in your struggle. There is on both sides of the struggle men of good will. That is important to remember. On both sides of the struggle, some struggling for freedom, some struggling for safety and solemn testimony of that unbroken faith which binds generations one to another I sing this song, “If It Be Your Will”…quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen’s introduction to If It Be Your Will at the March 22, 1985 Warsaw concert alludes to the conflict between Solidarity and the Communist government in Poland during the 1980s .

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will

Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas  – If It Be Your Will
Warsaw: March 22, 1985
Video from messalina79

Note: The graphic atop this post is a composite created from photoedited screen captures.

Note: Originally posted May 18, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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Video: 1985 Leonard Cohen Rehearsals, Backstage Badinage, & Interviews

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Leonard Cohen, Anjani, & Band In 1985 Halleluja in Moll Videos

Ruth Stimson, operating under her YouTube alias, has posted “Halleluja In Moll,” a German documentary produced after the 1985 Leonard Cohen Tour, that is both entertaining and enlightening.

Anjani on keyboard & vocals

Anjani on keyboard & vocals

Featured are portions of several songs, including “If It Be Your Will,” an impromptu version of “Goodnight, Irene,”  Anjani’s bluesy rendition of “I Tried To Leave You,” “Suzanne,” “Dance Me To The End Of Love,” and, of course, “Hallelujah.”

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It’s Not Just Any Hallelujah

No, indeed. This video presents the Making Of The Hallelujah That Ranked #2 In The 5 Funniest Leonard Cohen Music Videos “Hallelujah.”

See fake pigeons positioned, …

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leaves artistically strewn, …

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and, well, whatever is going on here.

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Talk – Talk

There is a clinker, at least for those who do not speak German – the spoken German translation sometimes obscures the words spoken (in English) by Cohen and others. Nonetheless, the interviews are worth the attention required to distinguish Cohen’s responses.

 

Even those queries proving that asking inane questions of public figures transcends borders (e.g., “Are you a friend of yourself?”) spark witty rejoinders (“From time to time, we’re on speaking  terms”). Cohen also speaks to his ambivalence about performing, his relationship with God, his reputation as a “great lover,” and, as fans have come to expect, much more.

Tourism

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Tourist locations, including an appropriately somber viewing of the Berlin Wall, are visited.

Banter and Backstage Antics

Dominique Issermann adjusts Anjani's profile for cinematographer Leonard Cohen

Dominique Issermann adjusts Anjani’s profile for cinematographer Leonard Cohen

Band members tease and crack wise, songs are sung, tomfoolery is carried out, toasts are toasted, and a good time is had by all.

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The Halleluja in Moll Videos

Leonard Cohen – Halleluja in Moll (1985) Part 1

Leonard Cohen – Halleluja in Moll (1985) Part 1

Caveat: These videos contain enough fun to wear a guy out.

yawn2Note: Originally posted Oct 9, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Photos & First-Person Account: Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas Appear In Paris 2007

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Photos – Leonard Cohen & Anjani Perform Blue Alert Music

Dominique BOILE offers these striking photos he took during Leonard Cohen Presents Anjani at the New Morning club in Paris on July 11, 2007, when Anjani performed in support of the Blue Alert Album.

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Anjani & Leonard Cohen, Live In Paris – The Experience

Maarten Massa, who also attended that 2007 Paris performance, issued this very personal report of the event.

Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas: Live in Paris

I’m from Belgium and Anjani will be performing in Ghent next week, but since I’ll be in Greece by then, I decided to go to Paris for a few days and combine a small city trip with Anjani’s gig.

Perhaps some of you remember me from Berlin where I took my dad along. This time, I was able to convince my wife and mother as well to go to Paris (although I’m a bit suspicious about their real purpose to go to Paris – they love shopping…).

So we were at the New Morning Club with a small group of 5 (a friend from Paris joined us there). I wasn’t at all expecting Leonard Cohen to appear, although of course I was hoping he’d show up somehow…

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