A Cold and Broken Hallelujah

Welcome to this week’s newsletter.

I started drafting my newsletter on US election night, November 8th- Tuesday night. When Hillary lost, I started singing “Hallelujah,” my favourite Leonard Cohen song. Then Leonard died. And a colleague, April, a few days before. It’s been a tough week.
2016 has taken many stars. Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, to name a few (as well as my mother-in-law).
But as we all try to make sense of the shock, and pick up the pieces, I’ve been singing “Hallelujah”.
K.D. Lang took us to church with her rendition at the Olympics.  It’s inspiring.
“It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”
The articles about Leonard Cohen are coming now that we lost him. Cohen once said “This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled, but there are moments when we can … reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.'” See http://time.com/4567693/leonard-cohen-hallelujah-history/
So, let’s embrace the mess.
Leonard’s song “Hallelujah” has been called the greatest pop song ever written. It took him several years to write. Apparently, he had 80 verses that he whittled down over 5 years. The song has been recorded by hundreds of people. And not everyone sings all the 6 or 7 verses that survived Leonard’s process. You can see http://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=10876
But the song is more than just a “pop” song. It’s poetry. It mashes biblical themes with song-writing construction. It ties references to King David and Solomon, and moves to a common man dealing with love and life. And maybe, just maybe, it’s about redemption. See http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/exclusive-book-excerpt-leonard-cohen-writes-hallelujah-in-the-holy-or-the-broken-20121203
The KD Lang version is my favourite. But maybe you like the Jeff Buckley version better.
Or perhaps you might prefer this Choir! Choir! Choir! version with Rufus Wainwright (the father of Leonard’s grandchild).
 “It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”
Watching Hillary’s concession speech on Wednesday was heart-breaking.The epitome of class and grace. If only I might have the strength she showed when facing life’s devastating blows.
And then late Saturday evening, I turned on “Saturday Night Live.”  Alec Baldwin wasn’t on. Instead, the show’s cold open was this. The actress playing Hillary Clinton sang Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton Sings 'Hallelujah'
Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton Sings ‘Hallelujah’
Kate sang these three verses:
Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord 
That David played, and it pleased the Lord 
But you don’t really care for music, do you? 
It goes like this 
The fourth, the fifth 
The minor fall, the major lift 
The baffled king composing Hallelujah 
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
baby I’ve been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
love is not a victory march 
it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
We’ve come full circle.
“It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”

So, as the protesters march in the states, the new government is formed, and the world holds it’s breath as it figures out what’s next, let’s take comfort in following Leonard. He seems to be leading the way.