Ms. Michelle Rice, a lawyer for Leonard Cohen’s estate, complains that the Republican National Convention played his famous and much beloved song “Hallelujah” without the consent of the estate. Brian Monaco, president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing which owns the rights to “Hallelujah,” made a similar complaint.
It was sung as the convention finale by the justly famous singers Tori Kelly and Christopher Macchio. Mr. Macchio performed the song live, and a recording of Ms. Kelly’s rendition was played.
Ms. Rice added in her statement of dismay: ”Had the RNC requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker‘, for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song.”
Ms. Rice, really?
Ms. Rice, after claiming that the RNC had played “Hallelujah” without the Cohen estate lawyers’ permission, took a “swipe” at Trump by suggesting that “Had the RNC requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker,’ for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song.”
“You Want it Darker,” Leonard’s last song, which he recorded while he was dying of a painful terminal illness, is a powerful and eloquent but extremely sad song, in which he contemplates his own approaching death and seeks to come to terms with it. He also comments on the terrible suffering of all mankind.
Was Ms. Rice trying to say — when she suggested that the Republican convention should have played “You Want it Darker” — what she and other “liberals” hope will soon happen to Trump? Or what she predicts, and perhaps, wants, to happen to all humanity if Trump is reelected?
I knew Leonard Cohen very well. We were close friends for 45 years. In my youth, I was his girlfriend for a time. I know for a fact that he never objected to his songs being sung anywhere, by any legitimate nonprofit organization whatever its political orientation. He never discriminated on the basis of people’s political opinions or those of the audience when he agreed to perform his songs for them. He believed that anyone and everyone had a right to listen to his songs. I attended his last performance, before a massive audience in Israel. While Leonard always loved Israel, he also offered to perform his songs in Ramallah before a Palestinian audience, although his offer was rejected. And he donated part of his performance proceeds to a few reconciliation organizations that promote healing the wounds of both Israelis and Palestinians by enabling relatives of victims on both sides to meet and celebrate the lives of their departed loved ones.
Leonard was never an especially political person. The quest for spiritual knowledge and experience was far more important to him than politics. Yet shortly before he passed away in 2016, he confided in me that he supported Donald Trump for President, although he preferred to keep his views private because, in the music and entertainment world in which he and his children moved, Trump was considered anathema, and whoever supported him was treated as a heretic. Leonard, who was not a feisty or conflict-loving person, had no desire to offend his colleagues, so he confided only in his children and closest friends—including myself—about his pro-Trump position.
He was also certain that Trump would win the 2016 election, despite all the opposition he received from the media, and despite the polls that universally predicted victory for Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. In an interview with the Canadian Press on April 3, 2017 “The Montreal singer-songwriter’s son Adam recalled his father’s prediction. Cohen’s son says the notion of Trump winning seemed ‘absurd’ to everyone around his father.
“He was one of the only people I know, Adam said, who had the most absurd prediction that anybody in my midst would dare have: he predicted Donald Trump was going to be the President of the United States, which of course made us all laugh hysterically.”
They assumed the medical marijuana he was ingesting clouded his logic: “He was stoned out of his mind,” Adam says. “‘What did he know?’ we thought. But it turns out the old man was right.”
Cohen died in California one day before Trump stunned the world by defeating Hillary Clinton. Though he was closely associated with his hometown Montreal, he also lived and worked on the American West coast.’
There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Leonard would have been proud and happy when his song was performed at the Republican National Convention. And he would have been equally happy if it had been played at the Democratic National Convention as well.