13 June 2011

Versions of Things Beloved, Part 3

There are songs that get so overworked:  "My Heart Will Go On" from the film Titanic, "Memory" from the musical Cats, Antonio Bocelli's "The Prayer."  Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah has gotten its fair share of overplay yet still affects powerfully -- as a Rorschach test, an anthem, a talisman, and a point in time - whatever time it's sung.

The Wikipedia article on the song notes: "Cohen's lyrical poetry and his view that "many different hallelujahs exist" is reflected in wide-ranging covers with very different intents or tones of speech, allowing the song to be "melancholic, fragile, uplifting [or] joyous" depending on the performer: The Welsh singer-songwriter John Cale, the first person to record a cover version of the song in 1991, promoted a message of "soberness and sincerity" in contrast to Cohen's dispassionate tone; The cover by Jeff Buckley, an American singer-songwriter, is more sorrowful and was described by Buckley as "a hallelujah to the orgasm"; Crowe interpreted the song as a "very sexual" composition that discussed relationships; Wainwright offered a "purifying and almost liturgical" interpretation to the song; and Guy Garvey of the British band Elbow anthropomorphised the hallelujah as a "stately creature" and incorporated his religious interpretation of the song into his band's recordings ."

Leonard Cohen - Album Version

Leonard Cohen - Dublin 2008

Jeff Buckley

K.D. Lang - 2005

John Cale - 1992

Tim Minchin and Geraldine Quinn - 2005


I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and 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

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time 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 with you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah


  1. Hey there. "Hallelujah" was been one of my favorite songs for many years and I knew almost nothing about it, other than, when I come back in my next life as a lounge singer, this is one of the tunes I would do. Thanks for the mini music lesson. I liked listening to the different versions. Also loved catching up on your Harry Potter affair. Sure wish I lived closer so I could come too!You know the post office would be my favorite part.

  2. Thanks, Tami. As for the Wizarding Event (not specifically a Harry Potter event), it will be interesting to see how things go in the future. It is an invitation only event this first time around and rather small in scale.

  3. Thanks for this, Ledeaux. I have to admit, I've never really paid much attention to this song until your post. I like the Jeff Buckley version.

  4. "dream" - I've always been partial to k.d. lang. But she could sing the phone book and I'd be rockin'! ;-)


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