The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" by Alan Light“A venerated creator. An adored, tragic interpreter. An uncomplicated, memorable melody. Ambiguous, evocative words. Faith and uncertainty. Pain and pleasure.” Today, “Hallelujah” is one of the most-performed rock songs in history. It has become a staple of movies and television shows as diverse as Shrek and The West Wing, of tribute videos and telethons. It has been covered by hundreds of artists, including Bob Dylan, U2, Justin Timberlake, and k.d. lang, and it is played every year at countless events—both sacred and secular—around the world.
Yet when music legend Leonard Cohen first wrote and recorded “Hallelujah,” it was for an album rejected by his longtime record label. Ten years later, charismatic newcomer Jeff Buckley reimagined the song for his much-anticipated debut album, Grace. Three years after that, Buckley would be dead, his album largely unknown, and “Hallelujah” still unreleased as a single. After two such commercially disappointing outings, how did one obscure song become an international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, a song each successive generation seems to feel they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own?
Through in-depth interviews with its interpreters and the key figures who were actually there for its original recordings, acclaimed music journalist Alan Light follows the improbable journey of “Hallelujah” straight to the heart of popular culture. The Holy or the Broken gives insight into how great songs come to be, how they come to be listened to, and how they can be forever reinterpreted.
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley lyrics
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His version features lyrics that Cohen only sang live, which were faxed to Cale by Cohen himself — all 15 pages of them. Bob Dylan was amongst the first to take on Hallelujah with his first performance dating back to , four years after the song was released. I like very much the last verse. The morning after, I was having coffee with him and we traded lyric. Listen and weep below. You must be logged in to post a comment. Tags: best leonard cohen covers bob dylan hallelujah covers of hallelujah jeff buckley hallelujah john cale hallelujah k.
1. Bob Dylan at the Montreal Forum (1988)
He didn't then know the song would wind its way into the deepest reaches of popular culture, spirituality and, uh, Shrek. He didn't know the song would make much of an impact at all. The album on which it appeared, the murky, mid-career Various Positions , had been rejected wholesale by Columbia Records in the U.
Achieving little initial success, the song found greater popular acclaim through a recording by John Cale , which inspired a recording by Jeff Buckley. It is considered as the "baseline" of secular hymns. Following its increased popularity after being featured in the film Shrek ,   many other arrangements have been performed in recordings and in concert, with over versions known. Written in the key of C major , the chord progression matches lyrics from the song: "goes like this, the fourth , the fifth , the minor fall , and the major lift": C, F, G, A minor, F. Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for "Hallelujah", with one writing session at the Royalton Hotel in New York where he was reduced to sitting on the floor in his underwear, banging his head on the floor. Following his original studio-album version, Cohen performed the original song on his world tour in , but live performances during his and tours almost invariably contained a quite different set of lyrics.
Celebrate the memory of a musical legend with my favorite renditions of his most famous song, "Hallelujah. At his peak in the late 60s and early 70s, but with a musical career that would span 5 decades, Cohen's music would have a huge influence over several generations. To celebrate his life and musical career, I rounded up my collection of Hallelujah covers that best represent the tone and raw emotion of his most famous song. Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. We delete comments that violate our policy , which we encourage you to read. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion. Don't show this again.