“Jennifer Warnes practically revived me from the dead in America by putting out Famous Blue Raincoat.” Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen by Susan Nunziata. (Billboard Tribute to Leonard Cohen: November 28, 1998). Originally posted October 27, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“It’s singing on poetry. It’s an elegant and wonderful event that I feel fortunate I could do year after year.” Jennifer Warnes On Performing Leonard Cohen Songs

How did you decide which songs to put on Famous Blue Raincoat?

The ones that suited my voice, and they had to hang together. I wanted it to be a whole album. Roscoe [Beck] and I had been in Leonard’s band for the Field Commander Cohen tour, so we knew the songs. It wasn’t like we casually cherry-picked a few – we knew exactly which ones had to be and delivered a kind of musical payoff. Leonard is not known for his great melodies, but he actually is a great melody writer. If you take the words off and just listen to the melodies, he’s really, really good. It’s just not known, because we’re so distracted by the poetry.quotedown2

Jennifer Warnes


Jennifer Warnes by Carl Wiser (Songfacts: April 13, 2018) is an informative and entertaining interview with Jennifer Warnes about working with Leonard Cohen, her musical history, and her impending album, Another Time, Another Place. The entire piece, available at the link, is a highly recommended read.

Examining Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat Album Of Leonard Cohen Songs

Ann Powers’ [Greatest Albums by Women] list is incomplete without Famous Blue Raincoat, which brought both fierce intelligence and the gorgeous sound of Jennifer Warnes’ voice to us, one more time.quotedown2

Robrt L. Pela

From The One Record That’s Missing from NPR’s Greatest Albums by Women List by Robrt L. Pela (New Times: August 2, 2017). This essay offers insights into the significance of Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat album. Highly Recommended.  Excerpts follow:

More than 30 years after its initial release, Famous Blue Raincoat — particularly in its original vinyl Cypress Records version and its more recent Impex 45-rpm wax reissue — remains an aural benchmark among audiophiles, who cite its pristine engineering and mastering by studio legend Bernie Grundman.

Raincoat speaks also to listeners who care less about sonic quality than they do about good, solid pop music. Its centerpiece is Warnes’ own “Song of Bernadette,” co-written with Cohen on a bus during his 1979 European tour. An exquisite composition since covered by Judy Collins, Bette Midler, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, and Aaron Neville, among many others, “Bernadette” recalls the sainted woman who “saw the queen of Heaven once,” a vision she steadfastly refused to deny. The song’s proto-feminist message alone ought to have secured its parent disc a place on Powers’ list.

Hear, Download Jennifer Warnes “Famous Blue Raincoat” LP Showcase – Munich 1987

Because I may not know music, but I know what you should like
… and where to find it

This is a very good audience recording.of Jennifer Warnes’ “Famous Blue Raincoat” LP Showcase, Park-Café, Munich, West Germany; April 15, 1987. “Famous Blue Raincoat” is, of course, an album of Jennifer Warnes’ performances of  songs by Leonard Cohen.

From the download site:

In January 1987, Jennifer Warnes released her sixth studio album, Famous Blue Raincoat, a tribute to Leonard Cohen, with whom she had toured as a backup singer in the 1970s. The idea for the album originated when Cohen assisted Warnes with the lyrics of “Song of Bernadette” while on tour in 1979. Warnes is probably best known for her duet with Joe Cocker on Up Where We Belong, which appeared in the 1982 movie, An Officer and a Gentleman.

The recording includes Leonard Cohen’s introduction of Jennifer Warnes, in which he sardonically informs the audience they can continue to laugh and talk as well as expressing his discontent with his record label.

Track 01. introduction 1:54
Track 02. Cohen talk 5:49
Track 03. Bird on the Wire 5:41
Track 04. Coming Back to You 6:36
Track 05. Famous Blue Raincoat 6:55
Track 06. The Hunter 4:31
Track 07. Ain’t No Cure for Love 4:36
Track 08. I Can’t Hide 6:07
Track 09. First We Take Manhattan 7:05
Track 10. Song of Bernadette 5:02

The files are already in MP3 format available for download directly from the site, thus avoiding the need to enter codes, decompress the files, or deal with the hassles of services such as Rapidshare. The files are also tagged (correctly, as far as I can determine) with the name of the song, the artist, and “Leonard Cohen – Birmingham 1979” listed as the album name. Only the cover art, available on site, need be added post-download.

This bootleg can be downloaded at ROIO – Jennifer Warnes’ “Famous Blue Raincoat” LP Showcase

Leonard Cohen was “on the verge of becoming the American incarnation of Kurt Weill”


In the 1960s the relentlessly introspective, dark-toned songs of Leonard Cohen made him a cult figure. He seemed, in fact, on the verge of becoming the American incarnation of Kurt Weill … His cult has continued, albeit with limitations, but he never became the major focus of attention that this marvelous album of his songs will make him if there’s any justice in the pop music world. (That is, of course, a big “if.”) quotedown2


From Picks and Pans Review: Famous Blue Raincoat [a review of Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat] by Ralph Novak, Andrew Abrahams, & Mary Shaughnessy. People: Nov 24, 1986.

Note: Originally posted November 15, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric