Video: Anjani Sings “Crazy To Love You” – 2012 Leonard Cohen-Glenn Gould Prize Gala

Neil Larsen Accompanies Anjani Thomas – Leonard Cohen Tribute

By all accounts, this rendition of “Crazy To Love You” (from the Anjani Thomas-Leonard Cohen Blue Alert album) by Anjani with Neil Larsen on the keyboards, was a high point of the May 14, 2012 Glenn Gould Prize Leonard Cohen tribute concert held in Massey Hall, Toronto.

Note: Originally posted May 17, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Anjani On Leonard Cohen’s Lyrics: “Leonard is an extraordinary songwriter because he is first of all a poet”

Q: What do you like about Leonard Cohen’s lyrics?

They are wonderful to sing. Leonard is an extraordinary songwriter because he is first of all a poet. His lyrics read like poems. He has the wonderful gift of juxtaposing images that would normally never be brought together. This results in sharp, impressive, almost magical word pairings. For example, Blue Alert starts with the lines: ‘There’s perfume burning in the air.’ In the song, words like ‘perfume’ and ‘beauty’ become ‘shrapnel’ and ‘dirt.’ For me this is the description of a very original, essential feeling state.quotedown2

Anjani Thomas


From Mit Gedächtnisschwund kommt man schon sehr weit by Von Johannes Wächter. Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin: Issue 17: 2007, an interview with Leonard Cohen & Anjani Thomas about their connection. Quote via Google Translate. Photo by Dominique BOILE. Originally posted April 24, 2014 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen & Anjani Talk About Working Together On Blue Alert

This brief video features a 2006 interview with Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas by Luce Gauthier in Toronto during the promotion of the Blue Alert album (released in Canada on May 2, 2006) and appears to have originally aired on TFO, the Franco-Ontarian public television network.

While most fans will already be familiar with the information in the interview, this opportunity to hear Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas articulate the strengths each brought to their collaboration in creating Blue Alert shouldn’t be missed. The video also includes clips from Anjani’s performances.

The video, which cannot be embedded, can be viewed at YouTube: Luce Gauthier – Entrevue Leonard Cohen – Anjani

Note: Originally posted Nov 15, 2011 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

How DrHGuy First Connected With Leonard Cohen: 1. Anjani – A Muse Amused?


Update (2017): Introduction

Some newly minted fans have asked how l first came to meet Leonard Cohen. Now, multiple “Leonard & me” narratives have been published recently featuring folks who performed or collaborated with him, those who interviewed or photographed the Canadian singer-songwriter only to subsequently realize they had bonded into intimate associates, others who met him by sheer serendipity, and still others who came into Leonard’s sphere of grace because of family connections, geographical proximity, mutual sexual attraction, overlapping friendships, or shared involvement in music, Judaism, poetry, food, literature, Zen … My story is less intellectually/spiritually profound than, say, accounts of spending hours sipping coffee and smoking exotic tobaccos while debating Kabbalistic archetypes with Leonard, but it does have the merit of being unique.

It begins with my July 25, 2006 1HeckOfAGuy.com1 review of the Leonard Cohen – Anjani Thomas collaboration, Blue Alert. The next step is described in the Aug 8, 2006 followup entry I’ve reposted below:

Anjani Re DrHGuy: Jejune, Yet Not Without A Certain Charm

This Sunday past, the Heck Of A Guy Blog had an unexpected, but unquestionably welcome, visitor, who left, as a calling card, a comment on Music Recommendation That Will Make You Want To Kiss Me.

Go ahead, check it out at the bottom of that post; I know you’re curious about who it is. I’ll wait here, humming along with the Jeopardy tune that plays while each contestant scrawled his or her “Final Jeopardy” answer, in the form of a question.

Cool comment, eh?

And, take a look this screenshot of the Press page of the Blue Alert web site:

presskiss500OK, before I get the emails and comments informing me that, as that New Yorker cartoon has it, “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” I am all too aware that that the comment could have actually been written by a large, malodorous, unshaven, chain smoking publicist’s assistant of indeterminate gender paid scarcely more than a living wage to reinforce and influence impressionable bloggers who write positive reviews of Anjani’s music. But, you know what? I don’t think Anjani rolls that way.

In any case, I’m certainly choosing to believe otherwise.

In fact, I think if I had handled things differently, …

Where I Might Have Gone Wrong

After re-reading my review of Blue Alert, I recognize that it may have been well put yet off-putting and that, despite my enthusiasm for her music, I might have constructed a more seductive post.

I now realize, for example, that labeling one section, “Lenny & Anji,” could be considered, at least by the more staid sort, as a tad presumptuous – or even flippant. Further, I would admit that comparing my serendipitous discovery of the Blue Alert album to the blind date that led to the catastrophe known as my first marriage was not an altogether ideal association.

Continue Reading →

  1. was a predecessor of Cohencentric []

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


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


Note: Originally posted May 27, 2007 at, 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


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

Hear Leonard Cohen’s Introduction At The Anjani Thomas 2007 Warsaw Concert


Now Online: Leonard Cohen’s Introduction To Anjani’s 2007 Warsaw Concert

Leonard Cohen opens Anjani’s March 31 2007  Warsaw concert with an introduction that is moving, interesting, and funny. Thanks to Apolinary POlek, Heck Of A Guy offers a recording of those words.

Leonard Cohen Introduces Anjani
Warsaw: March 31, 2007


Thank you so much, friends… Please, sit down, thank you so much. Thank you, Marek, thank you very much. Thank you for coming tonight. Thank you, the listeners of Trójka. It’s a great privilege and a great honor 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-colored skirts in the wind, for paper boats no more durable than we are.1

And then the poem just drifts off. And it’s in that drifting off that these songs that we have tonight are written. Just… The songs not of great love, not of… 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.

Some distinguished musicians have come with us from Canada. And I’d like to introduce them to you. These are master musicians – soloists and composers in their own right. On keyboard, Lou Pomanti. On guitar, Rob Piltch. On bass, Scott Alexander.

These songs are honored by the company of these musicians. Now, one day… I know Anjani very well – some of you may know – we’ve been singing and working and living together for many years, but one day very recently I woke up and I heard her singing in a completely different voice. It was as though her voice–and I know her voice very, very well–but it was as though her voice had moved from the throat to the heart. And it was a completely different sound, a completely different timbre, a completely different dimension.

And I was so happy when she began to put my words to music, so I hope that you will find favor in these songs that we’re going to offer you tonight. They are new songs with a new voice, and I’d like to present to you Anjani.

Note: Originally posted April 1, 2007 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. The reference is to Czeslaw Milosz’s “Alfabet Milosza” (1997) []