Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Momento mori

Sunday night's Emmy telecast was, on the whole, an above-average awards ceremony. Maybe I just love Jane Lynch (from the Christopher Guest movies and, currently, Glee, which I have mixed feelings about, at best), but I thought she made a dandy host.

But, seriously, can we please, please, please stop abusing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"? I've complained about this before, but who the hell thought that song was appropriate for an "In Memoriam" segment honoring TV folks who'd died in the past year? Did anyone bother listening to the lyrics? Here are the second and fourth verses:
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Does that sound In Memoriam-ish to you? (I was equally puzzled by k.d. lang's rendition at the Canadian Olympic Games, as lovely as it was.) Cohen's meanings can be a bit hard to suss out, but the song would seem to be about a failed love affair, if I'm reading it correctly. Just because it contains the word "hallelujah" doesn't automatically make it appropriate to honor the dead.

Instead, might I suggest Jim Carroll's "People Who Died"? I think it just works better:
Teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old
Fell from the roof on East Two-nine
Cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug
On 26 reds and a bottle of wine
Bobby got leukemia, 14 years old
He looked like 65 when he died
He was a friend of mine

Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

Now, that makes an In Memoriam statement. Perhaps Rob Lowe could do an interpretive dance to it.

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