Nail Gaiman and Amanda Palmer have released a new arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s spoken-word song “Democracy” in support of PEN America, an association of writers and editors that works to protect free speech. The song is a response to the results of the presidential election, “as the incoming presidential administration demonstrates increasing disdain for the media and a range of free expression norms.”
In a joint statement, Gaiman and Palmer explained why they support PEN America: “No one becomes a writer, artist, cartoonist, or journalist because it will be easy. Now this work may get a lot harder. We want to speak out. PEN America is rising to the occasion, leading a massive mobilization of writers and their supporters.” Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America, said, “We are so grateful to Neil and Amanda, and to the many others who have offered their time and expertise, organized their communities, and opened their wallets to defend the First Amendment against all odds.”
Accompanying the song is an animated video by Olga Nunes, with illustrations by David Mack, the artist who illustrated Gaiman’s American Gods. You can donate to PEN America directly here, buy the song on Bandcamp here, or buy a print of Vladimir Zimakov’s art for the single here, with proceeds going to PEN America. Watch Gaiman and Palmer’s cover of “Democracy” embedded above, and see Cohen’s original below, plus Paste Cloud audio from a 1988 Cohen performance beneath that.