I don’t want to have to sing another Hallelujah. Am I the only one who is frightened and saddened to watch Western civilization crumble before our eyes? I realize that may sound a bit dramatic. A friend and mentor of mine named Doug Montgomery said to me, “if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that people will be here—and we will carry on and we will thrive.” I prefer to hold on to that hopeful interpretation. It also happens to be true. Remember World War II? Kennedy’s assasination? Vietnam? The Jonestown Massacre? It’s rather frequent in the span of our lives that we ask ourselves in apocalyptic fashion, “What is this world coming to?”
James and I regularly cover Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in our live shows. Every once in a while we’ll leave it out, but not often. For us, the song has become a moment to memorialize the tragedy of the week. That tragedy of the week might be a mass shooting, a bombing, a mass murder with trucks and automobiles, or perhaps an unjustified hate crime like that of Charlottesville, Virginia. I had to sing a Hallelujah for Hether Heyer a few days ago. In the past year we’ve performed them for friends we’ve lost to suicide, victims of attacks in Paris, Brussels, London, Nice, Barcelona and countless shooting victims in the United States.
While neither of us ever get sick of playing the holy grail of Leonard Cohen songs, I am stricken that we have to memorialize some human born catastrophe or heartbreaking incident that has become commonplace in our society. Do we think it’s going to stop? Or is this the new normal? At the end of the day, if there is anything to be grateful for in this situation it’s that by taking these moments, we have a small contribution we’re making to help people heal. If you have some time, listen to some of our favorite covers of Hallelujah and remember all of those heroes who are out there making symbolic sacrifices so we can learn to be a better human race.