Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen song)

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen song)

Infobox Song
Name = Hallelujah

Border =
Caption =
Type =
Artist = Leonard Cohen
alt Artist =
Album = Various Positions and Cohen Live
Published =
Released = December 1984 and June 28, 1994
track_no = 5
Recorded = June 1984 and October 31, 1988
Genre = Folk rock Piano rock
Language =
Length = 4:39 and 6:54
Writer = Leonard Cohen
Composer = Leonard Cohen
Label = Columbia Records, Passport Records
Producer = John Lissauer ("Various Positions"); Leanne Ungar, Bob Metzger ("Cohen Live")
Tracks =
prev = "Night Comes On"
prev_no = 4
next = "The Captain"
next_no = 5
Misc = Extra track listing
Album = Cohen Live
Type = live
prev_track = "Sisters of Mercy"
prev_no = 6
this_track = "Hallelujah"
track_no = 7
next_track = "I'm Your Man"
next_no = 8

Audio sample? =
"Hallelujah" is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen originally released on his 1984 studio album "Various Positions". A live recording of the song from 1988, containing additional lyrics, appears on the 1994 album, "Cohen Live". While "Suzanne" is his most covered work to date, "Hallelujah" has experienced great popularity more recently and has now been recorded more than 170 times for release and has been featured in the soundtracks of numerous movies and television shows. [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article409551.ece Hallelujah!] , Bryan Appleyard, The Times, January 9, 2005]

Writing and recording

"Hallelujah" was originally written and composed over the course of a year, and is said to have been a frustrating and difficult process for Cohen. Cohen says he wrote at least eighty verses, discarding most of them in the process of crafting the song. Cohen is quoted as saying:Cohen first recorded the song at Quadrasonic Sound, New York in June 1984, working with producer John Lissauer. The next recording of this song by Leonard Cohen was captured live in Austin, Texas on October 31, 1988 with production by Leanne Ungar and Bob Metzger.

Musical composition

"Hallelujah", in its original studio version, is a 4 minute 39 second song in C major. [http://www.chordie.com/chord.pere/www.pjandphil.utvinternet.com/L_COHEN/HALLELUJ.TXT Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen - guitar chords, guitar tabs and lyrics - chordie ] ] The released live version, with its different lyrical content, clocks in at 6:54. On the song's melody, Rufus Wainwright has commented that "It's an easy song to sing. The music never pummels the words. The melody is almost liturgical and conjures up religious feelings. It's purifying." In the section of the lyrics "the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift", the chords move as described in the lyrics as follows: F ("the fourth"), G ("the fifth"), Am ("the minor fall"), F ("the major lift").

Lyrical interpretation

The original recording is noted for containing biblical references in the lyrics, alluding to David's harp-playing used to soothe King Saul (I Sam 16:23), and his later affair with Bathsheba after watching her bathe from his roof (2 Sam 11:2). The line "she broke your throne and she cut your hair" is a reference to the source of Samson's strength from the Book of Judges chapter 16. The third verse mentions "the name" (Tetragrammaton). In these instances, the lyrics are overtly sexual. Jeff Buckley called his own rendition of the song a homage to "the hallelujah of the orgasm". [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/jeffbuckley/articles/story/6596104/hallelujah Hallelujah: Jeff Buckley: Rolling Stone, December 9, 2004] ]

In 1994, Cohen released a substantially different version on the 1994 live album "Cohen Live", retaining only the final verse from the original recording. In this version, the lyrics became more sexual, and the song's structure was slightly reworked. Since his original studio album version, live performances by Leonard Cohen almost invariably include the final song verses not performed by Cale and many others. Many cover artists mix lyrics from both versions, and occasionally make direct lyric changes such as Rufus Wainwright singing "holy dark" and Allison Crowe singing "Holy Ghost" rather than "holy dove". Although individual words do change among various versions, apart from such examples of clear revision by interpreters, any variation may be due to selection from Cohen's complete lyrics rather than alterations by the cover artist.

Cover versions

Welsh singer-songwriter John Cale recorded a notable cover version of "Hallelujah", which appeared on the 1991 Leonard Cohen tribute album "I'm Your Fan" and, again, on Cale's 1992 live album "Fragments of a Rainy Season". Cale's version featured vocals, piano, and new lyrics. In a 2001 interview with "The Observer", John Cale said:

:"After I saw [Cohen] perform at the Beacon I asked if I could have the lyrics to "Hallelujah". When I got home one night there were fax paper rolls everywhere because Leonard had insisted on supplying all 15 verses."

Cale says he "went through and just picked out the cheeky verses." His version was featured in the 1996 film Basquiat as well as the 2001 animated film "." [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126029/soundtrack Shrek (2001) - Soundtracks ] ] Rufus Wainwright covered the song as well, and his version appears on that film's soundtrack album rather than Cale's.

American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley recorded one of the best-known covers of "Hallelujah" for his 1994 studio album, "Grace". Buckley, not wholly satisfied with any one take, recorded the song more than twenty times. Grammy Award-winning music studio engineer Andy Wallace took three of these recordings to create a single track. The result is a sparse-sounding production of vocals and electric guitar, influenced by Cale's version.

Reflecting a broadening populist appreciation of the song, reaching mass numbers since its inclusion in the 2001 animated film "", in recent years "Hallelujah" has been performed by a large number, and broad range, of artists, both, on recordings, and, in concert.

The song has even been given tribute in a very different way: as well as recording a cover of the original version, in February 2007 Alistair Griffin rewrote the lyrics to reference the soccer player Mark Viduka. Leonard Cohen gave permission for this to be released as a charity download in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. [ [http://indiestore.7digital.com/alistairgriffin Hallelujah Mark Viduka] ]

Soon after "American Idol" contestant Jason Castro's 2008 performance of "Hallelujah" in Season 7 of that US tv program, Jeff Buckley's "Grace" version became the most downloaded track on iTunes. This renewed interest in the song coincided with the induction of Leonard Cohen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2008/03/05/the-idol-countdown-five-essential-moments-from-last-nights-american-idol-13 Rolling Stone: Rock & Roll Daily] ] Subsequently, on the "Billboard" charts dated March 22, 2008, Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" debuted at #1 on the Hot Digital Songs chart. [ [http://billboard.com/bbcom/charts/chart_display.jsp?g=Singles&f=Hot+Digital+Songs Billboard Hot Digital Songs] ] The song was certified Gold and Platinum as a single on April 22, 2008. [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/riaa/singles.jsp Billboard RIAA Single Certifications] ]

In 2006, four Norwegian artists, Alejandro Fuentes, Askil Holm, Espen Lind and Kurt Nilsen (winner of Norwegian Idols season 1), all under the same management, joined forces and went on tour in March as what was known by the media as "The New Guitar Buddies". They released a CD with this song on it called "Halleluja-live!"

Sheryl Crow performed the song live and unplugged, while Damien Rice and Jack L have also recorded versions of it.

Movie and TV soundtrack roles

One of the notable aspects of the song's cultural role is how it has been so present in movie and tv soundtracks for years, especially in North American productions (and even though not a commercial radio hit). It's widely known as a soundtrack song. The song's evolution into its current status as a popular folk standard can be traced to its repeated use in such visual broadcast mediums, and, that's the way a large audience has been introduced to "Hallelujah".

The song has frequently been used in television shows and movies during scenes involving death or heartbreak. It has been featured in movies as diverse as "Basquiat", "The Edukators" ("Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei"), "Shrek" (covered by John Cale in the movie and by Rufus Wainwright on the ), "St. Ralph", "Deliver Us from Evil", "Kissed by Winter","Feast of Love", "Barfuss", "Lord of War", "When Night is Falling" and TV series such as "Holby City", "House", "Falcon Beach", "The L Word", "The O.C." (twice by Jeff Buckley, once by Imogen Heap), "Hollyoaks", "The West Wing", "Scrubs", "Without a Trace", "Cold Case", "Criminal Minds", "ER", "The Shield", "Nip/Tuck", "Crossing Jordan", "Drama and Nicole", "Rescue Me", "LAX", "Roswell", "Ugly Betty", "Numb3rs", "Nearly Famous" and "One Tree Hill".

In an editorial context, the song has been used in the "Third Watch" and "Without a Trace" episodes dealing with the 9/11 events. "Hallelujah" was played at the closing of NBC's "Dateline" on April 17, 2007, covering the Virginia Tech massacre. During the playing of the song, a montage of photographs regarding the events of the tragedy was displayed. Additionally, Cale's cover was used for the closing of the "Stuff," a short film about John Frusciante in 1994 by Johnny Depp and Gibby Haynes. After the shooting massacre at NIU, the song was covered during a montage of YouTube users' responses to the massacre. The song, as covered on "YouTube" by "Christina Marie," [ [http://youtube.com/watch?v=6Oor7N1Ustc "YouTube" - Hallelujah (v2) ] ] could be heard at the end of the montage on "Fox News Tonight" with Shepherd Smith.

On the September 29,2008 broadcast of "Late Show with David Letterman", the song was played over a farewell montage for actor Paul Newman, who had died three days earlier.


* In 2004, Jeff Buckley's version was ranked #259 on "Rolling Stone"'s "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".
* In 2005, "Hallelujah" was named the tenth greatest Canadian song of all time in "Chart" magazine's annual readers' poll.
* In September 2007, a poll of fifty songwriters conducted by "Q Magazine" listed "Hallelujah" among the all-time "Top 10 Greatest Tracks" with John Legend calling Buckley's version "as near perfect as you can get".


External links

* [http://leonardcohenfiles.com/album8.html#61 1984 version lyrics] , on The Leonard Cohen Files
* [http://leonardcohenfiles.com/album11.html##G 1988 version lyrics] , on The Leonard Cohen Files

s-ttl | title = Norwegian VG-lista number-one single (Performed by Lind, Nilsen, Fuentes and Holm)
years = 10 January 200717 January 2007
succession box
before = "Love In This Club" by Usher featuring Young Jeezy
title = "Billboard"'s Hot Digital Songs (Jeff Buckley version)
years = March 22 2008
after = "Love In This Club" by Usher featuring Young Jeezy

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