However you come to the song, it's got an aura around it. If it's through Buckley, well, he's this beautiful dead boy with an apparently "ethereal" voice, and he's singing this song that sounds like a long-ago thing. Cohen himself is distant enough at this point to be symbolically equivalent to an old blues guy: mysterious, wise, world-weary. Buckley's martyrdom cleanses him of the "dude with a guitar who signed to a major label in the 90s" status, and Cohen, cheesy though he may be at times, comes from the pre-corporate past of the music industry, and is untainted by its commercialism.
And this particular--and particularly amazing--trick is a big part of why, no matter how it comes to you, "Hallelujah" always manages to seem like a discovery. It can pass through a thousand corporate paws and be marked by them all, arriving at its destination in the form of a TV show or a mass-market major-label CD or a bunch of pop idols. The song is just so strange--so alien, so smart, so densely packed with signifiers--that it doesn't seem possible that it's actually part of mainstream culture, no matter how much mainstream culture embraces it.
felix betachat: Cohen is David. He plays the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift even as he is singing them. His song is rich and complex, resonant with history and loss, terror and joy. It's David's life and his own at the same time. The act of realizing one's self through mimesis is the essence of art. The act of mimesis which continues to resonate beyond the moment of creation is the essence of great art. Despite his fallible humanity, Cohen literally achieves self-transcendence through the act of writing and performing this song. What you here there, if you'd shut up and listen, is the sound of a man becoming a demigod.
KD Lang has my favorite cover
I am married now, suckers.
When Leonard Cohen first read his poetry to Philip Glass, there were times when the composer was beside himself with laughter.
"They're hilariously funny," Glass says. "I was rolling on the ground. We were out in Los Angeles in a friend's house. There was a nice green lawn. We were sitting on the lawn. I found it funny."
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