Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thanks For The Dance, Anjani and Leonard

So where have you been, people ask me. A whole week without postings to the blog. My brother contacted me after months of silence, thinking that I was dead. Some have suggested exotic trips abroad, others have diagnosed the long-expected waning of interest in all things blogging. It is, of course, none of these. I've just been busy. But, for the life of me, I can't remember what I have been busy doing.

If pressed I can probably list loads of little things: an exacting client demanding endless changes to the draft of a party invitation, more shopping trips than are either necessary or seemly, a brace of lunch appointments .... but that is hardly a week's worth of spare time. The most likely explanation is the onset of a sudden and extended bout of amnesia. It is not that I have been doing nothing in my usual pig-lazy fashion, it's just that I can't remember what great deeds I have done. I check out the world news sites looking for the most important developments over the last seven days. Was I somehow responsible for these, like some ageing super-hero.

Who turned the polls around for Hilary? It was SuperAl. Who got eight out of ten eleven year olds into the secondary school of their choice? You got it, SuperAl. Who achieved a Parliamentary majority for the Lisbon Treaty? Tell Gordon it was SuperAl.

At least I can account for one day of the missing seven. It was Monday, I think. As I walked Amy in the morning I was listening to a recording of a radio programme on songwriters which was broadcast last week. The particular episode in question dealt with Leonard Cohen. Drawn as I am to anything which deals with the life and work of the Sainted Leonard, I listened avidly to what the Great Man had to say. But it was a disappointing affair : the interviewer was anodyne and the Sainted One was less than engaged in the process. But, the programme did contain a track from the latest project he has been involved in - an album by Anjani Thomas called Blue Alert. I was mesmerised by the track and immediately acquired the rest of it via my Napster subscription. For the rest of the day I did little else other than listed to it : again and again, track by track. It is years since I have done that and there was a kind of pleasure in being carried away by something which was so beautifully balanced and exhilaratingly presented. The lyrics to all ten tracks are by the Sainted One, the music by Anjani. The two go back a long-time : it was Anjani who sang the backing on his 1980s Various Positions album. The songs are unmistakably Leonard's, even the pace of delivery is Cohenesque. The piano is Anjani (who has also quite a reputation as a jazz singer and pianist) and her voice is like distilled spring-water.

One of the great things about the Internet is that you no longer have to just take the word of an old fool like me. You can go to the Sony Music website and watch and listed to two of the tracks from the album (for free). Watch "Thanks for the Dance" and you will probably go out and buy the album. Once you've done that, you will probably lose a day in your life as well.


  1. Anonymous3:52 PM

    I'm writing primarily because I had much the same experience with Blue Alert as you; I was immediately taken with it on first hearing the first track in July 2006. And, I still adore it ("adore it," I assure you is not a term I often apply to music) today. I wrote an effusive review which prompted an response from Anjani and an ongoing flirtation between us on my blog, an experience summarized at Anjani & DrHGuy. From introducing this album to everyone I know, I'm convinced that folks are either instantly enchanted with it (as you and I were) or their reactions range from a polite "that's nice" to "I don't get it." And, those initial responses have been, among my acquaintances, permanent. No one who with a lackadaisical initial response has learned to love it, and no one who was enthusiastic about Blue Alert at first has become tired of hearing it (thus far). Consequently, I've developed the "Blue Alert Receptor Theory," which postulates that an individual's response to the album is hard-wired into ones neurotransmitters and immune system.

    Leonard Cohen and Anjani have also sung two romantic duets that aren't available on CD but can be heard at The Best Leonard Cohen - Anjani Duet You’ve (Probably) Never Heard and Another Leonard Cohen - Anjani Duet You’ve (Probably) Never Heard.

    Finally, the coming attractions (which you may know already): Anjani is at work on another album and Leonard Cohen has committed to a concert tour of the US and England later this year.

    Sorry to be so long-winded; I do get carried away by Blue Alert.

  2. Thanks for the comment. That is good news about the follow-up CD. I've now had a look at the HOAG Blog and have become a fan. Good to find an ever-changing and interesting blog.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...