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A New Year’s Hallelujah on the Plaza

It was close to midnight on Sunday, New Year’s Eve, when Mayor Javier Gonzales took the mic to lead a big crowd on the Plaza in song.

“Auld Lang Syne?” Nope. John Lennon’s “Imagine?” Not in Santa Fe on this night.

Gonzales did a pretty good job of intoning the late, great Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” And a lot of people in fact joined in, at least on the refrain of “hallelujah” repeated four times.

But the song is like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” with dark tones that belie the uplift of an anthemic chorus. Cohen’s tune has certain non-celebratory details, like “All I’ve ever learned from love/Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.”

And one verse ends: “And it’s not a cry that you hear at night/It’s not somebody who’s seen the light/It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.”

Happy New Year!!

Cohen also throws in some murky, at least PG-rated funny business. There’s that line about being tied to a kitchen chair.

In other words, “Hallelujah” was probably the perfect song to sing at a City Different New Year’s party that also featured a big Zia sun symbol rising 60 feet above the Plaza as the seconds ticked off to midnight. The fireworks that followed got off to a slow start, but eventually provided a suitable closing crescendo.

As Gonzales moves off the local political stage with the completion of his four-year term in March and his run for lieutenant governor, Santa Feans should give him credit for starting this new tradition. The New Year’s Eve on the Plaza event is 3 years old.

It’s not exactly fixing potholes or cleaning up ugly street medians. But like former Gov. Bill Richardson, who always made sure there was lots of cake for free in the Roundhouse rotunda on New Mexico’s birthday and helped free some Balloon Fiesta balloons from entrapment in China, Gonzales appreciates a community celebration.

The New Year’s Eve gathering is low-key and family-friendly (even with Cohen’s poetic subtext). Check it out next year, and we’ll see if whoever is mayor at that point chooses to follow Gonzales’ lead and surprises us with another song.

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