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"Leonard Cohen’s music is subtle, nuanced and always in search of the deepest truth—even if it’s a truth we don’t want to see. Trump and the GOP are precisely not Leonard Cohen." (Photo: Adrian Thomson/Flickr/cc)

Keep Your Filthy Hands Off of Leonard Cohen

"Trump and his posse of sycophants and enablers think that everything belongs to them."

Tim Koechlin

After Trump’s (predictably) revolting speech on Thursday night, the RNC DJ played Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Twice. Without permission (of course).

This is far from the worst thing that these cynical, mendacious fuckers have done. But it’s enraging nonetheless.

Leonard Cohen died on November 7, 2016, the day before election day. I spent much of the next month listening to Mr. Cohen’s music which has, over the years, meant a lot to me.

Leonard Cohen’s death was, for me and, I suspect, many others, a terrible echo of Trump’s election. A second way that the world had taken a turn for the worse. Leonard Cohen’s music is full of despair and possibility, and a hint of (perhaps irrational) hope. It was perfect for that awful moment. Leonard Cohen’s music is subtle, nuanced and always in search of the deepest truth – even if it’s a truth we don’t want to see.

Trump and the GOP are precisely not Leonard Cohen.

Four years ago, I wrote: “Leonard Cohen was cryptic and poetic. Dark and uplifting at once. For an inflexible, self-righteous, left-wing Catholic white boy (me!), his fearless writing about spirituality, mortality, sex, obsession, and darkness was perfectly challenging, unsettling, and transformative. It changed my life. For a few years, in my 20s, I was completely mesmerized by his great album, ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen.’"

Again, this is so far from the most revolting thing Trump and his lying band of misogynist racists have done. But my feeling is this: Did you have to put your filthy hands on this too?

Trump and his posse of sycophants and enablers think that everything belongs to them.

It’s clear that no one bothered to read or listen to the lyrics to “Hallelujah” – the centrality of the “baffled king,” e.g. None of them take the time to read anything.

“Well, maybe there's a God above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya.

And it's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah.”

Broken as fuck.


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Tim Koechlin

Tim Koechlin

Tim Koechlin holds a PhD in economics. He is the Director of the International Studies Program at Vassar College, where he has an appointment in International Studies and Urban Studies. Professor Koechlin has taught and written about a variety of subjects including economic, political and racial inequality; globalization; macroeconomic policy, and urban political economy.

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