Jenny Sings Lenny

Jennifer Warnes

One evening late in the spring of 1986 Leonard Cohen made this sketch on a white paper placemat at Mario’s Italian Restaurant in Hollywood, California. Work was in progress on a new as yet untitled recording of my interpretations of nine of Leonard’s songs. He had surprised me that day with a visit to the studio and my work as I recall went better, as it often did when he appeared.

Everyone involved with this project loved Leonard’s music in the purest way. I believe because of that, we were oddly blessed. Mid-project as we were, it was still too soon to celebrate, but we quietly percolated with the suspicion that something extraordinary was being born. Later that evening, Leonard and I left the studio for an early dinner where we allowed ourselves to rejoice a little about our progress, and to muse about the cover art. In this spirit, Leonard set his dinner plate aside, pulled a pen from his breast pocket, and this sketch appeared quickly on the paper mat. Eventually, however, the album came to be titled “Famous Blue Raincoat” after his song of the same name. I felt this image was more powerfully his because when I first met him in Hartford in ’69, he was something of a trench-coated dark angel on the prowl.

But, that’s not the whole story. To me, this little drawing was sacred and private, and I secretly resisted turning it into an advertisement. Leonard, however, has never forgiven me for not using it as the cover. But among those of us who worked on this recording, of which I am deeply proud, this is, in fact, the true cover and unofficial title.


Text is taken from the book, “Take This Walz, A Celebration of Leonard Cohen.” Edited by Michael Fournier and Ken Norris, published by The Muses Company, Ste. Anne de Belleview, Quebec, 1994.