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 [at the time of the original 2010 posting].
The result is 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. Between these end points, A Thousand Kisses Deep – both the song and the poem, both in print and as performed – has undergone changes in specific lyrics and the addition, subtraction, and rearrangement of stanzas.
The closest we have to a definitive manuscript of all verses is dated September 21, 1998 and is available online at Blackening Pages: A Thousand Kisses Deep. From that point on, the versions are combinations and permutations of these verses with occasional changes in lines and phrases.
From Way Down Deep By Jennifer Warnes To A Thousand Kisses Deep By Leonard Cohen
Video by Allan Showalter
Tom Sakic charts the development of A Thousand Kisses Deep:
1992 – Warnes’ “Way Down Deep”
1996 – documentary “Leonard Cohen Spring 96” by Armelle Brusq
1997 – video interview “Beautiful Losers” (ARTE)
1998 – radio interview KCRW
1998 – on Blackening Pages
2001 – “Ten New Songs” – song
2006 – “Book of Longing” early draft sent to publishers, printed as two songs (A Thousand Kisses Deep /album version/ and Still Into That)
2006 – Book of Longing – all verses combined into two parts, 1 and 2 (album version)
2008-2009 some late extra verses, recited during World Tour, and variations
2009 – Recitation with N.L. (Live in London) – recitation of Part 1 (variation)
2011 – Sony Two Worlds Ad
2013 – Recitation w/ N.L. (Live In Dublin)
Note: This material originally posted Feb 12, 2010 and July 24, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric