erik lundegaard

A Cold and Broken Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen and the 2016 Election

Having one of the great songwriters of our time die within two days of the election of Donald J. Trump was like the rancid cherry on top of the shit sundae that is this awful, awful year. So SNL's decision last night to “cold open” with Kate McKinnon playing Hillary Clinton singing Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah” was inspired. Particularly when she sang this verse:

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I told the truth, I didn't come to fool ya
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

I really love that third line as it relates to the election. I love the implication in it—that someone did come to fool us. And got away with it. And is still getting away with it.  

A lot of Cohen had been bandied about on social media in the wake of his death and the aftermath of the 2016 election. How could it not? “Cohen's songs are death-haunted,” David Remnick wrote in his great profile of Cohen in The New Yorker last month, and this week, even before Cohen's death, many of us felt death-haunted. 

On Thursday, my friend Jamie (and later, separately, my friend Jim) posted these lyrics, nothing else, no other commentary, from Cohen's “Everybody Knows”:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose
Everybody knows

To Jamie I wrote, “I see your 'Everybody Knows' and raise you 'The Future'”—another great Cohen song that feels less resigned, more apocalyptic, which is how I'm feeling at that moment:

There'll be the breaking of the ancient western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There'll be phantoms, there'll be fires on the road
And the white man dancing

You'll see your woman hanging upside down
Her features covered by her fallen gown
And all the lousy little poets coming 'round
Trying to sound like Charlie Manson
Yeah, and the white man dancing

 At last, we know who the white man dancing is. 

Tags: , ,
Posted at 09:24 AM on Sun. Nov 13, 2016 in category Music  

COMMENTS

« Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)   |   Home   |   Soul Searching »
 RSS    Facebook

Twitter: @ErikLundegaard

ARCHIVES
LINKS