November 14, 2016

Cohen's Lyric

Since Leonard Cohen died the other day, I listened to his Hallelujah song five times. I just love the lyric:
"I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch...
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."
It just doesn't get better than that in encapsulating the general human story: Adam and Eve did their best, it wasn't much, they couldn't feel His love so they had to touch (the apple), it all went wrong, but even now they stand before the Lord of Song and thanks be to God, have nothing on their tongues but 'Hallelujah'. Or so goes my personal interpretation.
There are few things more moving than affecting that all going wrong and yet being grateful nonetheless. It reminds me of how as a kid I was so moved by the cartoon The Grinch Who Stole Christmas when the citizens still sang merrily on Christmas despite the theft of all their food and toys and tinsel. Gratitude in the face of an often ungracious world, man, that's just the secret to life it seems like sometimes.
The timing of his death almost seems like a reminder of how paltry a subject politics seems compared with the big picture. And of course I googled to try to find out the circumstances of his death, wondering if somehow he hung on just long enough out of curiosity of how the election would turn out... To the extent we can control those things.

1 comment:

fillyjonk said...

Similarly, that's my favorite verse of the song, too. Though my interpretation is more self-centered and personal, I guess: I see us all as muddling through the best we can, and none of us can do much. And the "all went wrong" - since it's a fallen world, even our best efforts may fail or come to naught.

But I love the - I would almost say, defiance (against evil, against giving up, against the fallenness of the world) - in the last two lines. Because, yes, I am still going to find a way to praise even if all my efforts in the worldly plane fell apart.