I heard on the radio the other day a bit of the story about how Leonard Cohen, who died this week, wrote his best-known song, “Hallelujah.” The song had 80-some verses and sometimes drove Cohen crazy.
Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for “Hallelujah”, with one writing session at the Royalton Hotel in New York where he was reduced to sitting on the floor in his underwear, banging his head on the floor.
John Cale eventually covered the song, as did a youngster named Jeff Buckley, whose version of the song became the standard bearer. Buckley’s album “Grace” is likely to be number one on many “albums you need to have” lists, and his version of Cohen’s masterpiece is key as to why.
Other covers abound with different interpretations. Rufus Wainwright has performed it, as have k.d. lang, Regina Spektor, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Bono, Amanda Palmer, Willie Nelson, I mean, here, here’s a list of 60 (thanks, Newsweek).
And, last night, on live national television, it was covered by Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton. And that was brilliant. That is why Kate McKinnon holds a doctorate in what she does. It was so bittersweet, so effective, the jiu-jitsu of feeling the loss of a great American songwriter while playing through what many of us feel was a loss of the great America itself.
I hadn’t cried yet over the loss to Trump. But boy, that brought it out of me. Thanks, comedian.
Because that’s what this feels like. It’s been slipping away for a while now, what with the idiocy-as-a-leadership-quality approach seen in folks like George W. Bush and Prudence Palin. Now we’ve elected a man who ran on a platform of pointing to specific groups of people and saying THEY are the problem, and we are going to get rid of THEM to solve the problem.
What could possibly be wrong with that?
Newt Gingrich on Face the Nation this morning poo-pooed such allusions. He called it “garbage.” Said he’d never heard of the “alt-right” before this. Republicans don’t mind riding such ugly, Bircher-powered waves, but confront them to acknowledge them, and you will face a cloudburst of denial and false outrage.
Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in part by tapping into scapegoatism, via a radical jingoism, racism, misogyny, and general angry hatred. If you are a Republican and you deny that, you are simply doing more of your putting your head in the sand.
I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton early on. I don’t think I was “wrong,” per se. As I write this, Mrs. Clinton leads the popular vote by 600,000 votes. She only lost the presidency by losing Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Three states. And we cannot possibly know how Mr. Sanders would have fared in the general election. I maintain that he was an utterly unvetted candidate who would have been trounced.
However, I think my party needs to beat a path to Bernie’s door now. Because, mark my word, this new Republican regime in Washington will over-reach. It’s what they do when they assume all levers of power. And, when they do, we had better have an organization that’s ready.
I say now that the way to get ready is to line up behind the socialist.
What have we got to lose?
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