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Fri Nov 20, 2020, 09:35 PM

How Leonard Cohen Haunted the Trump Era

On August 27, the final night of the 2020 Republican National Convention, President Donald Trump and his family stood on a patch of blood-red carpeting at the bottom of the White House steps and gazed up at a Long Island tenor named Christopher Macchio. As he gesticulated with his swollen hands, Macchio gazed off in the distance, his mouth tugging at the corners into a Trumpian smirk. The song he was singing was Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

The RNC had, of course, requested formal permission to use the song. And the Cohen estate had, of course, refused it, in keeping with a long tradition during the Trump era that has grown to include Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Neil Young, Phil Collins, Rihanna, Prince, and Nickelback. But, of course, they used it anyway.

The song was one Cohen labored over for five years, filling at least 80 notebooks with versions of its lyrics. When it was released, on his 1984 album Various Positions, it immediately sounded like a standard—Bob Dylan called it a prayer. Over the years, it became his most famous song, perhaps more well-known than Cohen himself. Its winding trip into the spotlight, by-way-of covers from John Cale, Jeff Buckley, and others, was odd enough to occasion a whole book. The lyrics can be about almost anything—disappointment, the tug between the spiritual and the earthly, the divinity of sex—which makes it particularly adaptable. It has become the province of X-Factor auditions, ukulele YouTube covers, Shrek. It has passed out of the realm of Cohen’s ownership and into the culture at large, where it can be rendered into pablum.

And this is how it found its way onto the White House steps, a prayer about orgasm sung to a faux-pious thug and his coterie. The gesture was grotesque, but if Trump had meant in some way to affront the spirit of Leonard Cohen, he probably did not succeed.

-more-

https://pitchfork.com/features/overtones/how-leonard-cohen-haunted-the-trump-era/

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Reply How Leonard Cohen Haunted the Trump Era (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Nov 20 OP
regnaD kciN Nov 20 #1
no_hypocrisy Nov 21 #2
Hekate Nov 21 #3
AwakeAtLast Nov 21 #4

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 09:42 PM

1. So, are you saying the past four years have been a Leonard Cohen afterworld...?

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 07:02 AM

2. If you remember (or don't), "Hallelujah" was the song that was the cold open for SNL

the Saturday after the 2016 Election with Kate McKinnon, as Hillary Clinton in her iconic white pants suit at the piano.

It was meant to soothe, to assuage, to comfort us who were still in shock.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 07:22 AM

3. That performance is indelibly stamped in my memory. She was perfect, the song was perfect...

...in that hellish moment of loss and heart-brokenness. “I’m not going to give up, and neither should you,” brought me to my knees in tears. I returned to it again and again in themfollowing days and weeks.

How dare Trump try to debase it? How dare he? — only because no one has ever stopped him until now.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 08:31 PM

4. I like k. d. lang's version the best!

I also really liked this article, too! Thanks for sharing it!

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