2020 rnc

Leonard Cohen’s Estate Wants You to Know They ‘Specifically Declined’ the RNC’s Use of ‘Hallelujah’

Photo: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns via Getty Images

Leonard Cohen’s famous ballad “Hallelujah” was everywhere this week, and while the late singer might not have minded its inclusion in the new trailer for the Snyder Cut of Justice League, his estate would like everyone to know he definitely wouldn’t have wanted it used at the 2020 Republican National Convention. In fact, they specifically told the RNC they couldn’t use “Hallelujah,” but they did anyway. Twice. Now, the estate says, they plan on “exploring our legal options.”

“We are surprised and dismayed that the RNC would proceed knowing that the Cohen Estate had specifically declined the RNC’s use request, and their rather brazen attempt to politicize and exploit in such an egregious manner ‘Hallelujah,’ one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue,” Michelle L. Rice, the legal rep for the Leonard Cohen estate said in a statement Friday. “We are exploring our legal options.”

Brian J. Monaco, Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s global chief marketing officer, also confirmed the denial on Friday. “On the eve of the finale of the convention, representatives from the Republican National Committee contacted us regarding obtaining permission for a live performance of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’” he wrote in a statement. “We declined their request.”

Continued Rice, “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.” In case you’re wondering what tone ‘You Want It Darker’ would have set for Donald Trump’s acceptance of the Republican nomination, feel free to check out its lyrics: “They’re lining up the prisoners/ And the guards are taking aim/ I struggled with some demons/ They were middle-class and tame/ I didn’t know I had permission/ To murder and to maim/ You want it darker.”

Leonard Cohen’s Estate Declined RNC’s Use of ‘Hallelujah’