THE STORY OF "C"
by Anjani Thomas
Anjani in Germany in 1985
(the Various Positions tour)
This was written by Anjani Thomas who sang back-up for me and played
the piano in the "Various Positions" tour in 1985.
she also did many of the vocal backgrounds on songs for "I'm Your Man."
We did some work together on May 6th and the next day she handed me this
document. It made me very happy.
I am posting it with her permission.
All the best
May 18, 1999
The Story of "C"
I sat at the piano, learning his song, thinking to myself "this is so ...
simple. Its too simple"
And I began to hear the possibilities, the opportunities to embellish his
little song and make it something more. Suddenly, he stopped singing and
turned to me.
"Anjani" ... spoken quietly, almost apologetically, ... "could you play a
"C" cord there?" I looked at him hard. "I am playing "C"."
"Um, I mean a straight, plain C." As he said it, he drew a horizontal line in
mid-air with his finger.
I paused, not understanding really, what he wanted. "A "C"? "Ah," I
thought, "He's never had formal training -- he's a singer-songwriter, not a
PLAYER. I'll play what he wants but doesn't know how to ask for. We resumed
playing. He stopped again.
"I know it's rather different, but could you keep to plain "C" there?"
Years of training and road chops disallowed me from holding to a banal
triad. I was so sure the major 7, the sus 4, the augmented, the 6/9 were
better choices, musical choices. In fact, I spent the tour with him in subtle
sabotage of his request. A stab of #5 here, an 11th there ... culled from my
superior arsenal of notes, licks, fills -- everything for a lonely, mundane
gap. Yet always, in my opinion, tasteful and necessary.
I did not care that he didn't like it. I took it upon myself to educate him
by example - refining his rough-cuts into polished gems - technically,
musically. And he never asked me to play "C" again, so I figured he was
learning and liking it.
Ten years later I got so burned out on the business I left music
altogether and went to live by a lake. I planned a garden and felt the Texas
sun on my back as I raked, hoed, planted and harvested, quietly, in silence.
One day I looked up and saw a bird on a wire, and immediately, the words
to his song came into my mind. And for the first time, I was struck by the
power, the simplicity and purity of "C" -- alone, whole, stacked neatly a
third apart. Brilliant, clean, no more, no less. Of course it was the chord
of Cohen ... And I finally learned to play "like a bird on a wire ..." just
as he meant to teach me.
© 1999 Anjani Thomas. Posted here with her permission.
Thanks to Leonard Cohen for forwarding this touching story,
and to Judith Braun for her help in creating this page.