Famous Blue Raincoat (album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Famous Blue Raincoat
Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat.png
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1986
StudioThe Complex, Amigo Studios, Hollywood Sound, The Enterprise, Mama Jo's, Salty Dog Recording, The Record Plant
ProducerC. Roscoe Beck, Jennifer Warnes
Jennifer Warnes chronology
Shot Through the Heart
Famous Blue Raincoat
The Hunter

Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen is the sixth studio album recorded by the American singer Jennifer Warnes. It debuted on the Billboard 200 on February 14, 1987, and peaked at No. 72 in the US Billboard chart, No.33 in the UK albums chart, and No.8 in Canada. Originally released by Cypress Records (RCA Records in the UK), it was reissued by Private Music after Cypress went out of business. It is the only Jennifer Warnes album to make the UK albums chart (up to September 2014).


Released in November 1986, Famous Blue Raincoat is a tribute to Leonard Cohen, with whom Warnes had toured as a backup singer in the 1970s. The album's songs span much of Cohen's career, from his 1969 album Songs from a Room to his 1984 album Various Positions (on which Warnes sang), and even two songs ("First We Take Manhattan" and "Ain't No Cure for Love") from Cohen's then-unreleased album I'm Your Man.

The idea for the album originated when Cohen assisted Warnes with the lyrics of "Song of Bernadette" while on tour in 1979. Warnes had suggested the album at Arista Records and later MCA Records with no luck. The album's producer, C. Roscoe Beck said, "Leonard seemed to be A&R poison."[1]

Guest contributors include guitarists Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Lindley and Robben Ford, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, keyboardist Russell Ferrante, arranger Van Dyke Parks and Cohen himself duetting on "Joan of Arc".

The album is the first record produced by Roscoe Beck.[2] The liner notes include a cartoon by Cohen of a torch being passed with the caption, "Jenny Sings Lenny."

In August 2007, a remastered and expanded 20th anniversary edition was released by Private Music with four bonus tracks.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Robert ChristgauB−[4]

Writing retrospectively for Allmusic, music critic William Ruhlmann wrote of the album "Where other singers tended to geld Cohen's often disturbingly revealing poetry, Warnes, working with the composer himself and introducing a couple of great new songs ("First We Take Manhattan" and "Song of Bernadette," which she co-wrote), matched his own versions. The high point may have been the Warnes-Cohen duet on "Joan of Arc," but the album was consistently impressive... For Warnes, the album meant her first taste of real critical success: suddenly a singer who had seemed like a second-rate Linda Ronstadt now appeared to be a first-class interpretive artist."[3] In reviewing the reissue, Steve Horowitz of PopMatters noted, "This anniversary edition... may finally give the album the acclaim it initially deserved."[5] Peter Gerstenzanga of The Village Voice wrote after the reissue, "As much as one admires Warnes's taste in songwriters, the unadorned truth is that Cohen's dark, grave voice is a better instrument for his songs. Also, his original arrangements—from solo-guitar bare to brass-band ironic—are more fitting than the slick stuff here. Stevie Ray Vaughn playing processed blues licks on "First We Take Manhattan"? Inappropriate. Smoky sax on the title track? It's a meditation on betrayal and revenge, not a lounge song. Furthermore, Warnes's melismas (think a less histrionic Ronstadt) sound sweet, not murderous."[6]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Leonard Cohen except where noted.

  1. "First We Take Manhattan" – 3:47
  2. "Bird on a Wire" – 4:42
  3. "Famous Blue Raincoat" – 5:33
  4. "Joan of Arc" – 7:57
  5. "Ain't No Cure for Love" – 3:21
  6. "Coming Back to You" – 3:43
  7. "Song of Bernadette" – 3:55 (Jennifer Warnes, Bill Elliott, Cohen)
  8. "A Singer Must Die" – 4:52
  9. "Came So Far for Beauty" – 3:37 (Cohen, John Lissauer)
Additional tracks on 20th anniversary reissue
  1. "Night Comes On" [New Recording]
  2. "Ballad of the Runaway Horse" [New Recording]
  3. "If It Be Your Will" [New Recording]
  4. "Joan of Arc" [Live in Antwerp, Belgium, 1992]


Chart (1987) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 21
Canada (RPM)[8] 8

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1987) Position
Canada (RPM)[9] 40


  • Jennifer Warnes – vocals, harmony vocals
  • Leonard Cohen – vocals (on "Joan of Arc"), sketches
  • Roscoe Beck – bass, fretless bass, synthesizer, guitar
  • Larry Brown – tambourine, shakers
  • William D. "Smitty" Smith – synthesizer, Hammond organ
  • Jorge Calderón – bass
  • Lenny Castro – percussion
  • Gary Chang – synthesizer, programming, synthesizer arrangements
  • Vinnie Colaiuta – drums
  • Larry Corbett  – cello
  • Russell Ferrante – piano, synthesizer
  • Richard Feves – bass
  • Robben Ford – guitar
  • Van Dyke Parks – synthesizer, accordion, arranger
  • Michael Landau – guitar
  • David Lindley – lap steel guitar
  • Fred Tackett – guitar
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan – guitar
  • Steve Forman – percussion
  • Bill Ginn – synthesizer, piano, percussion, arranger, conductor
  • Kal David – background vocals
  • George Ball – background vocals
  • Terry Evans – background vocals
  • Willie Green, Jr. – background vocals
  • William "Bill" Greene – background vocals
  • Bobby King – background vocals
  • Arnold McCuller – background vocals
  • Joseph Powell – background vocals
  • David Lasley – background vocals
  • Tim Stone – background vocals
  • Greg Prestopino – background vocals
  • Sharon Robinson – background vocals
  • Reverend Dave Boruff – saxophone
  • Paul Ostermayer – tenor saxophone
  • Novi Novog – viola
  • Suzie Katayama – cello
  • Sid Page – violin
  • Barbara Porter – violin

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Engineers – Csaba Petocz, Tim Boyle, Steven Strassman, Paul Brown, Larry Brown, Frank Wolf
  • Assistant engineers – Jeff Park, Nyya Lark, Terry Dunavan, Ken Fowler, Dan Reed, Sharon Rice, Garth Richardson, Duane Seykora, Russ Bracher, Joel Stoner
  • Mixing – George Massenburg, Larry Brown, Frank Wolf, Billy Youdelman
  • Mastering – Bernie Grundman
  • Programming – Chuck Barth, Todd Yyega
  • Art Direction – Jennifer Warnes, Leslie Wintner
  • Reissue design – Patricia Bukur


Certifications for Famous Blue Raincoat
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[10] 3× Platinum 300,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[11] Silver 60,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Michael Bonner (February 2017). "He would anoint us with essential oils". Uncut. p. 61.
  2. ^ Buchholz, Brad – "Portrait of Cohen – Two generations of Austin players acknowledge the majesty of one of America's foremost song-poets", Austin360.com
  3. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Famous Blue Raincoat > Review". AllMusic. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 31, 1987). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Horowitz, Steve. "Famous Blue Raincoat > Review". PopMatters. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  6. ^ Gerxtenzanga, Peter. "Jennifer Warnes's Famous Blue Raincoat: 20th Anniversary Edition". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  7. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 333. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  8. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums - March 7, 1987" (PDF).
  9. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1987 - December 26, 1987" (PDF).
  10. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Jennifer Warnes – Famous Blue Raincoat". Music Canada. Retrieved August 19, 2022.
  11. ^ "British album certifications – Jennifer Warnes – Famous Blue Raincoat". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved August 19, 2022.

External links[edit]