Lenny, no Squiggy

Leonard Cohen, the “songwriter’s songwriter” passed away earlier this week. His best-known song, “Hallelujah,” had an interesting gestation period. It first came out on Cohen’s 1984 album, but didn’t really make much of a splash. Jeff Buckley covered it in spectacular fashion a decade later, but it wasn’t until after Buckley passed away in 1997 that the song actually hit the mainstream. It was featured in the first Shrek film in 2001, but again there was a bit of a twist. A version by John Cale (Velvet Underground) was featured in the movie, but a version by Rufus Wainwright was on the movie’s soundtrack album.

I think it’s great that Cohen was still writing and recording until the very end (his latest album came out earlier this year). I think it’s sad that he was cheated out of millions by his former manager and had to tour the world in his 70’s (387 shows from 2008-2013) just to try to replenish his nest egg.

While “Hallelujah” is Leonard Cohen’s most famous song, his tune “Democracy” is the one that’s really striking a chord with me during election week:

Just like with “Hallelujah” something tells me there might be a bit of a time lag before the lyrics of this song truly catch on as well, but I hope it’s soon:

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin’
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the USA
Sail on, sail on
Oh mighty ship of State
To the shores of need
Past the reefs of greed
Through the Squalls of hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on
It’s coming to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It’s here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the USA

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