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Hallelujah
April 16, 2010 8:21 PM   Subscribe

K.D. Lang singing Halleujah Leonard Cohen's Halleujah may be one of the most powerful songs I heard in the past few years. This version by K.D. Lang was a pleasant surprise...
posted by HuronBob (95 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lang sang Hallelujah at the Vancouver Olympics closing ceremony.

She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah


Kind of a weird choice of song, if you ask me.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:26 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]




Oooh, I get to be the first with the good news!
Metafilter has a whole bunch of covers of this song! (There was an informal contest a while back, and a lot of these are... something else!)

I'm enjoying Lang's version, as well--thanks!
posted by Squid Voltaire at 8:29 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Previously"

Ok... but, can there be too much of this song?
posted by HuronBob at 8:31 PM on April 16, 2010


not enough buckley
posted by nathancaswell at 8:32 PM on April 16, 2010


Damn, that man just can not sing. But, God, he can write!
posted by Some1 at 8:36 PM on April 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


My favorite KD Lang song - Barefoot
posted by anshuman at 8:39 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


John Cale version still the best.
posted by anazgnos at 8:40 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


anazgnos: "John Cale version still the best."

I beg to disagree
posted by idiopath at 8:42 PM on April 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


anshuman... thanks... that is a fascinating video...
posted by HuronBob at 8:43 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think Cohen's always kind of regretted that this wasn't the definitive cover song.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:43 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Buckley's version is the only one to ever make me cry.
posted by alexmestas at 8:45 PM on April 16, 2010


With all due respect (and the K. D. Lang one is one I listen to often) may I add Rufus Wainright Hallejula to the chorus.
posted by vapidave at 8:46 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Florida is big. Immense. It doesn't look big, but that's just Mercatur Projection fucking with you. This was in the early '90s, and I lived in Daytona, and my Uncle lived in West Palm Beach. One Thanksgiving, it was decided I would hop aboard Greyhound, and go have turkey at my Uncle's place, in the retirement community down in West Palm Beach. On paper, lit looked like the bus ride from Boston to New York. Mercatur Projection. In reality?

It. Was. Endless.

This being Florida in the early '90s, the only thing the old folks and the rednecks and the Southern Goths coud agree upon was... K.D. Lang was ossum!

People like my art-school-flunk-out self thought she was ossum because she was so incredibly gay. People like my straight-laced bus driver thought she was ossum, because she sang with a twang.

"Coooonstant Craaaaaaving hasalllways beeen!"

Bus driver is crying into his smothered-and-covered at the Waffle House, and I'm crying with him, and we both walked away completely changed by the experience. I'm just not certain what the change was... and there's another two hours ride through green hell to get to West Palm Beach, where we pretend we didn't just share that, like that, just then, at the Waffle House.

I just hope it didn't turn him gay, because I was totally not trying. I'm not gay, but I vote democratic, and the gay may be a residual effect of voting for Obama.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:48 PM on April 16, 2010 [17 favorites]


Here is a Jeff Buckley version.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:49 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


also, the stranger song is my favorite cohen tune. just sayin'.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:56 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cohen is a poet first and foremost, at least in my eyes, and his version works a lot better if you just pretend it's spoken word night at a lounge club in Chelsea. Buckley and Lang certainly do it more justice musically, though. I'd never heard her version before but it's giving Buckley's a run in the how quickly it gives me goosebumps category.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 8:57 PM on April 16, 2010


For me, that KD Lang video is a reminder that as awesome as the TV direction and production is on NFL games, it tends to be uniformly terrible for music. The music is fine, but that video is...not good.
posted by cribcage at 8:59 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cohen is a poet first and foremost

when i was a lot younger i made a brash, stupid, uninformed statement that i "liked my singers to be singers and my poets to be poets"... i have since totally changed my tune, due pretty much to beautiful losers and it's alright ma i'm only bleeding (which is the first rap song ever). if you can write, fucking write.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:02 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even Leonard Cohen has said it's enough with all the Hallelujah covers.
posted by domographer at 9:04 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


(which is the first rap song ever)

actually this is probably a brash, stupid and uninformed statement too since i don't really know jack shit about rap. but i do like j-live. i'm sure there are precursors.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:04 PM on April 16, 2010


Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (and a violinist whose name I don't know, sorry) performed this in 2005 at a folk festival in the Czech Republic, perched on the edge of the stage, with no microphones or amplifiers. And when the crowd joined in at the end, it was magic.
posted by shannonm at 9:09 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


(which is the first rap song ever)

The Griots would like to have a few words with you... syncopated and with a beautiful flow.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:10 PM on April 16, 2010


First of all, people should just quit covering this song, and I thought kd lang's album of Canadian covers, 'Songs From the 49th Parallel' was uninspired and monotonic, 'Hallelujah' included.
But here, live, she does seem to push it a little further
posted by Flashman at 9:14 PM on April 16, 2010


(which is the first rap song ever)

AAAAAAAHHHH - hahahahahahaha! Haha! ... ha!... um, ha ... ha?

That's joke right?

Right?

and don't get me wrong, I'm a HUGE Dylan fan meself, but there are SO many earlier precedents in music, going back decades and decades... lots of proto-rap happening in America many years before Mr. Zimmerman made his first appearance on the planet in Minnesota.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:14 PM on April 16, 2010


This was easily the best part of the opening ceremonies.
posted by mek at 9:20 PM on April 16, 2010


Man, this post has now really made me mad. This song is nice to sing along to, but I've never really paid attention to the lyrics. Tonight, I did. It's great. It's a well written song. The juxtaposition between love/God and separation from either is brilliant and I like the biblical references to David/Bathsheeba and Samson.

Unfortunately, all I can picture in my head when I hear this song is fucking CSI: Miami. David Caruso is removing his sunglasses and gazing deeply into your soul...a former junky is picking up her infant out of a crib...and a buidling somewhere is blowing up. Screw you CSI. Screw you.

Hallelujah.
posted by fyrebelley at 9:20 PM on April 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Good lord god, it is difficult to express how much I despise Jeff Buckley's ruination of this song.

Leonard Cohen is a sainted genius, but this isn't even the best of his songs.

One interesting point worth considering: it was Bob Dylan who first saw the power and potential of this tune. He was the one covering it, way back before the 1992 John Cale version that inspired Buckley's, in 1986, judging by the bootlegs of him in my possession. I've heard that Dylan specifically asked about the song to Cohen, and that he voiced early reverence for it. Sadly, Dylan's live performances are, shall we say, spotty, and while he did a good number of covers of "Hallelujah" early on, as far as I can tell none of them is really that fantastic.

They say that, when Cale decided to cover the song, he asked Cohen for the lyrics, and received a fax shortly thereafter of ten (!) typewritten pages of lyrics for the song. Cale apparently leafed through them and then decided to use mostly the same lyrics Cohen himself had used for his famous live version of the tune.
posted by koeselitz at 9:22 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I like Tim Minchin's rendition.
posted by infomaniac at 9:25 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


A much, much better cover of a Leonard Cohen song, and a cover that Cohen himself has expressed some admiration for:

Nick Cave, "Avalanche"
posted by koeselitz at 9:25 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a well written song.

Heh heh. Yeah, that it is.

The juxtaposition between love/God and separation from either is brilliant

Religion and spirituality are themes that Cohen has interlaced into his narratives on earthly love, romance and sex throughout his career. It's one of the defining characteristics of his work.

I like the biblical references to David/Bathsheeba and Samson.

Biblical references crop up constantly in Cohen songs. Welcome to the world of leonard Cohen!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:26 PM on April 16, 2010


Clearly I love the camped-up Buckley version to death, but seriously, what the fuck was he thinking with this one here
posted by Juicy Avenger at 9:31 PM on April 16, 2010


fyrebelley: “The juxtaposition between love/God and separation from either is brilliant and I like the biblical references to David/Bathsheeba and Samson.”

Ah, you like biblical references, do you?

Since I'm sadistic, and therefore judge that you haven't been tortured quite enough by the whole CSI thing, I will point out this further version of "Hallelujah" which was thrust upon me by my brother's mother-in-law, a preacher's wife who insisted that Cohen's version was "too depressing" and told me I must play this version now (you know how it is when people gather around Youtube):

Lincoln Brewster's "Another Hallelujah" (or as I like to call it, "a special kind of torture")
posted by koeselitz at 9:35 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Youtube comments to that evangelical version are hilarious, by the way. "I LUV THIS SONG, RIP JOHN CALE"
posted by koeselitz at 9:39 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lang sang Hallelujah at the Vancouver Olympics closing ceremony.
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Kind of a weird choice of song, if you ask me.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:26 PM on April 16 [+] [!]


It was the actually the opening ceremony and I consider that performance very subversive considering the context. There was an awesome amount of censorship for the creative performers officially sanctioned by the Olympic committee (as is, perhaps, to be expected). I was surprised, first of all, that KD was asked to perform, (purely based on her sexual orientation), and second that she chose this song and that it was approved!

This is the only place you can see the actual official broadcast version of that performance and it's WELL worth watching - it's a cut above other versions of KD Lang performing this song. And the passage that KokyRyu refers to is the part I feel she slipped in there as her little piece of rebellion - check out the way she suggestively inhales/sucks her teeth at 1:33 - well, start at 1:10 when she acts out being awestruck by a lover and then the passage mentioned above is sang with such sensuality and soul that you can help but get shivers.

Apparently NBC cut away for commercials during the live broadcast of this song.
posted by smartypantz at 9:46 PM on April 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


I know it says "A Canadian Olympic Hymn To Lucifer?" when you go to that site which is kind of hilarious, but the site seems harmless and the video is surprisingly good quality.
posted by smartypantz at 9:48 PM on April 16, 2010


Wow Koeselitz. That is fantastic. I'm afraid to say more. Someone may come strike me down.
posted by fyrebelley at 9:49 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and that's 1:43 not 1:33. Just watch the whole thing, you won't be sorry!
posted by smartypantz at 9:50 PM on April 16, 2010


I was thinking about Cohen a couple of days ago; because someone on the subway was playing Chelsea Hotel on the Redline in Chicago, and I thought to myself, I love that song because when I was 14 it taught me that fellaito could be an act of benedication, and it got me into this holy fucking tangent that has become my life work; but just like I think we should pray like Christ taught us in Matthew, in the closet with the door closed; maybe songs about fucking should have the same kind of respect. (Chelsea Hotel Covers I Love: Regina Spektor who makes it strange; Rufus Wainwright who queers in it in his usual operatic style .

Which reminds me of a couple of things. The first is that no matter how much I love kd lang, and no matter how much I think she is one of the only performers working today to work through issues of sexuality, desire, loneliness, and holiness (cf her entire album Drag) her work on Hallejuah has compounded the endless violence done to the song, because it neuters it and makes communal something that is about isolation.The second is that all of the complex difficulties in Cohen's texts move away into this one interpertation.

How would Cohen look if the work we knew him by was something in the Spector Days or even Light as a The Breeze, which says some of the same things as Hallejuah, but with no potential for olympic uplift. though having 100 000 people in a stadium singing about the mystical potential of cunninglingus would be the most awesome thing ever.


As well, if we are talking about the best covers of St Leonard, it must be Buffy St Marie's ojibwa reworking, of Cohen's francophone remake of the catholic potential of Kateri Tekawathia--which would be my arguement for the most canadian document ever: you can hear it here
posted by PinkMoose at 9:55 PM on April 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


There was this big reunion-concert-thing that my high school did that I joined in on, and I posted a clip of that In a corner of my blog; in which four of the cast members inexplicably gathered around the piano and sang "Hallelujiah." I was wondering in my blog exactly how it fit the rest of the show thematically.

A gent from Alberta reads my blog, and I was amused at his observation: "You legally do not need a reason to sing Hallelujah. That's a law. Yeah it's a Canadian law, but Leonard Cohen's presence, even just one of his songs, converts the affected area into Canadian territory for the duration."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh well I guess we are burnt on this, but I have never heard this song, and Cheryl Crow does it well, here.
posted by Oyéah at 10:01 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly I love the camped-up Buckley version to death, but seriously, what the fuck was he thinking with this one here.

Juicy Avenger, that's not Jeff Buckley, but rather some teenager dude named Jeff; he just titled his upload "Jeff Buckley Hallelujah" because he's pointing out that he's covering the Jeff Buckley version. Also, he's probably hoping for more accidental views. Also, it's officially awful.
posted by incessant at 10:01 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the Juno Awards version in the FPP, k.d. lang was subbing in for Neil Young, who had suffered his brain aneurysm a few days before. This may account for some of the emotionality in Young's home town of Winnipeg.
posted by Rumple at 10:05 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great cover, but I can't help ask...

What in the Hell does she have on? I mean, I realize she doesn't exactly go for the tarting-herself-out look, but... I mean, jeans and a T-shirt would at least offer some comfort, and probably look better than that.

/ Spoken by an unabashed fashion victim
posted by pla at 10:08 PM on April 16, 2010


Some1: “Damn, that man just can not sing. But, God, he can write!”

I would officially rather listen to Leonard Cohen's wonderful gravelly voice sing for three billion years than listen to Jeff Buckley's whine for even five seconds.

Oh, and by the way, since we're talking Leonard Cohen covers, I should mention the epic drunken "Tower Of Song" (original) that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds undertook some years ago. It's so long it doesn't fit into one Youtube video: 1, 2, 3, 4. You should grab a few beers and give it a listen. My favorite part is the part where Nick complains to the band that they've been playing it the same way for twenty minutes, and should probably try something different.
posted by koeselitz at 10:11 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


actually this is probably a brash, stupid and uninformed statement too since i don't really know jack shit about rap. but i do like j-live. i'm sure there are precursors.

Sort of, yeah. Bob Dylan, in that song, is doing a form of blues called "talking blues", which is a precursor of rap and was big with the folkies.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:11 PM on April 16, 2010


which is a precursor of rap

I should qualify this in that it didn't directly influence rap, it's an earlier form of music with rhythmic speech done mostly by black people. Talking blues was a depression-era thing and besides the brief revival by Dylan and co., it was long forgotten by the time Kool Herc started mixing breakbeats.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:14 PM on April 16, 2010


precursor of rap

Yeah, there's talking blues, signifyin' (see also: signifyin' monkey)...

I recommend this record, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:18 PM on April 16, 2010


Not to mention Rudy Ray Moore, AKA Dolemite</a..
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:21 PM on April 16, 2010


i just realized i linked to Dolemite in a Leonard Cohen thread. that's perhaps one of the most outrageous things i've ever done on metafilter
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:23 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: Good lord god, it is difficult to express how much I despise Jeff Buckley's ruination of this song.

I don't watch very much TV, so I'd missed that it's so omnipresent in tragedy scenes. I heard Buckley's version for the first time a few years ago, while listening to Radio Paradise and killing hapless wildlife in Nagrand. It took about one verse to stop me dead in my critter-cidal tracks. I sat there quietly, listened to the whole thing, went to look up Jeff Buckley, was saddened by his untimely death, and bought the album, all while my character sat idle.

Honestly, I didn't like the album that much, but that one song was powerful enough to completely interrupt what I was doing and MAKE me pay attention.

If that's ruination, I'd be very interested in a link to the good version.
posted by Malor at 10:27 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apparently NBC cut away for commercials during the live broadcast of this song

Perhaps that was a local station thing because I watched Lang's performance in its entirety during NBC's broadcast of the opening ceremonies (and spent much of the time worried she fall off that giant wedding cake she was standing on).
posted by jamaro at 10:30 PM on April 16, 2010


It is a terrible shame that the dumbest sex scene in all of cinema has permanently ruined this song for me.
posted by millipede at 10:49 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which would be?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:03 PM on April 16, 2010


That song is the worst earworm. Last time I listened to it, it took a whole week for it to go away.

Gotta go.
posted by Twang at 11:17 PM on April 16, 2010


The Olympic version (linked by smartypants here) is far superior to the histrionic Juno Awards viddy in the FPP. Maybe it's because K.D. had room to emote physically and didn't have to pack it all into the vocal emissions. But, good grief, smartypants, Ms. Lang won't be barred for anything because of her sexual preferences -- this is Canada, after all. The biggest problem she had here was when she came out of the food closet as a Veggie and dissed beef -- beef! In Alberta! I think you must be confusing the American reaction to her SNL appearance -- can't find that, so's here's an earlier version of the same tune (and pla, there's an outfit for ya'. )
posted by CCBC at 11:42 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


But, good grief, smartypants, Ms. Lang won't be barred for anything because of her sexual preferences -- this is Canada, after all.

Yes, but this is the Canada currently headed by Stephen Harper - who had people riled up back when he first took office with the hint that he might try to repeal same sex marriage legislation. Not that that has anything to do with anything, and I'm not trying to derail - I am just explaining a bit of my mindset in making my earlier comment.

It's not that I'd think KD Lang would be barred from anything, just that I was pleasantly surprised that she was chosen to perform. Her rendition was amazing and I'm kind of obsessed with this particular performance. I'm proud she was representing us as a diverse nation, and I love that she chose this song. And yes, I'm Canadian!
posted by smartypantz at 12:27 AM on April 17, 2010


Apparently NBC cut away for commercials during the live broadcast of this song

Perhaps that was a local station thing because I watched Lang's performance in its entirety during NBC's broadcast of the opening ceremonies (and spent much of the time worried she fall off that giant wedding cake she was standing on).
posted by jamaro at 10:30 PM on April 16 [+] [!]


Good to know!

Also - I can't imagine what it would be like for her to stand on that "wedding cake" surrounded by all those lights and thousands of people and to know the "world" was watching. And then on top of that she was one of the only performers to not lip synch and she totally wailed and NAILED IT. She stole the show, in my opinion.

Ok, I'll stop gushing now.
posted by smartypantz at 12:36 AM on April 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


What follows is a non sequitur:

Despite having a metal ring on her head and being surrounded by the olden days Patsy Cline.
posted by vapidave at 12:47 AM on April 17, 2010


What in the Hell does she have on? I mean, I realize she doesn't exactly go for the tarting-herself-out look, but... I mean, jeans and a T-shirt would at least offer some comfort, and probably look better than that.

It looks to me like an adapted version of Zen Buddhist robes. Try a google image search for exampes. Looks pretty comfy to me though.
posted by Alnedra at 1:07 AM on April 17, 2010


great choices.
Also seconding someone who must have mentioned Rufus Wainwright's cover version on a dvd, the one where bono is in it.

I look forward to the day when everyone realizes that the currency of the day is covers of Suzanne.
posted by infinite intimation at 1:26 AM on April 17, 2010


Ok, I'll stop gushing now.

Why, smartypantz?

KD's sexual preference is about the only reason I would want to swap genders.

That, and the better selection of shoes.

But mostly KD.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:29 AM on April 17, 2010


Malor: “I don't watch very much TV, so I'd missed that it's so omnipresent in tragedy scenes... If that's ruination, I'd be very interested in a link to the good version.”

Yeah, I actually heard Cohen's version a while before I'd heard Jeff Buckley at all, and then I heard Jeff Buckley's other music before I heard his cover of "Hallelujah." And honestly - I guess it's mostly just a reaction I have to voices like his nowadays. My generation has produced so very many high-voiced, sensitive crooners that, well, it gets tedious.

I'm actually hesitant to link to more versions of this tune, as I feel Leonard's probably right and the song's vastly overplayed, but it doesn't hurt to list the canonical versions, I guess. Cohen's album version is magnificent, but there's a live version out there that's a bit more definitive which I unfortunately can't find at the moment. The other important one - and the version that started all the covers after Jeff Buckley heard it - is John Cale's.

Seriously, if anybody likes the tune as it is, you should go listen to the album Cohen made after "Hallelujah" - I'm Your Man. It honestly might be his best record - it's really and truly fantastic, and deeply entertaining. It also has the benefit of being one of the best starting points if you've thought of trying to get into Cohen but never managed to - it's very user-friendly. Oh, and there's a picture of him eating a banana on the cover, and it sounds like it was produced like a shit 80s-pop album or something, both facts which I find endlessly hilarious.
posted by koeselitz at 1:32 AM on April 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


CCBC - The Olympic version (linked by smartypants here) is far superior to the histrionic Juno Awards viddy in the FPP.

Ye gods, you're not wrong. People, watch that performance, it's like a masterclass.
posted by pseudonymph at 1:34 AM on April 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just want to reemphasize that people should really watch kd lang's olympic version.

Seriously. Watch it.
posted by Alex404 at 1:38 AM on April 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can't, Alex. I can't listen to that song again. If I do I'll puke. And I like KD Lang, so puking while she's singing a song would be a bad thing, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 2:09 AM on April 17, 2010


Maybe she's wearing that because she's pregnant.

Or not.
posted by bwg at 2:23 AM on April 17, 2010


Puts me in mind of another spine tingling KD Lang cover - - Crying with Roy Orbison - - that woman sure can sing when she sets her mind to it!
posted by fairmettle at 3:20 AM on April 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here is the Opening Ceremonies version.

And since someone mentioned Crying, uhhh, Llorando!
posted by mek at 3:38 AM on April 17, 2010


Sorry, something ate that link. Opening Ceremonies KD Lang.
posted by mek at 3:40 AM on April 17, 2010


Am I too late to pop in & mention that John Cale's version is the best?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:54 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and by the way, since we're talking Leonard Cohen covers, I should mention the epic drunken "Tower Of Song" (original) that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds undertook some years ago.

that'd be the one from the I'm Your Fan tribute album.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:59 AM on April 17, 2010


Am I too late to pop in & mention that John Cale's version is the best?

Not if I'm too late to agree with you. Which I do.

although i must immodestly confess a certain fondness for, ahem, my own version at Mefi Music
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:47 AM on April 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


My seven year old son said, "Oh, that's from Shrek."
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 4:50 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


really gotta spend more time on mefi music. i particularly like how "the fourth, the fifth" wasn't actually a fourth & a fifth - at least, not to my (admittedly tone deaf) ears.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:59 AM on April 17, 2010


I've loved her singing this song for a long time, but I think I prefer her renditions from a few years back. The performances feel more raw. For example:
This one.
posted by russh at 5:01 AM on April 17, 2010


I was surprised to see another post dedicated to Hallelujah, but it is a big song, and I can never get enough Cohen. Thanks for all the links, guys!

I look forward to the day when everyone realizes that the currency of the day is covers of Suzanne.

For some reason this tickles me. Perhaps because I became familiar with the song through Judy Collins' Colors of the Day album (back when music came on vinyl and one would sit in one's bedroom and play the same album over and over and over obsessively.) Judy, god love her, always a little off-key, seemed to own the song...until I discovered the artist Leonard Cohen and Judy was the dust being shaken off my sandals. But it was good that I was so obsessive back then because now, when I want to remember what it was like to be 15 and full of vague, inchoate yearnings, I only have to listen to Colors of the Day and it transports me back to that bedroom with the newspaper pictures taped to the wall and the Indian cloth bedspread and the smell of strawberry incense.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:16 AM on April 17, 2010


I'll echo a lot of what has been said:

Overall, this song has been covered to death.

Also, like "99 Luftbaloons" or "Born in the USA," I think pop culture seems to focus on the chorus rather than the whole lyrics. It tends to get used in media when they want something spiritual-hymn-like, but not an actual hymn.

As for musicians-as-poets, I'm in the Dave Carter camp, but he was taken from us too soon. But that is a story for another post...
posted by MrGuilt at 6:36 AM on April 17, 2010


Can I just say I love the Billy Joel cover of Light as the Breeze? (From the interesting collection of Cohen covers, Tower of Song.)

And KD Lang doing Crying at the Songwriter's Hall of Fame show in '89 is the best.
posted by Bron at 7:48 AM on April 17, 2010


Canadians do like singers who sound like they've been drinking whiskey and gargling with gravel. Hallelujah, indeed.
posted by LD Feral at 7:53 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Canadians do like singers who sound like they've been drinking whiskey and gargling with gravel.

I'm not saying you're incorrect in that assessment, LD Feral, but I think it's more that Canadians like singers who are... Canadian.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:02 AM on April 17, 2010


I don't know if they have ever been mentioned together in the same sentence before, but I am fairly certain that a "Ken Nordine"/"Leonard Cohen" duet, or any kind of collaboration would be a)amazing or b) create a micro-black-hole at the center of the earth which destroys the universe.
Either way, it would likely be spectacular.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:01 AM on April 17, 2010


Hee, my mother became randomly obsessed with the KD Lang version of this song a few months ago after stumbling across it on youtube. She insisted on playing it for me over and over again during four or five phone calls, and would go on and on about how much she liked it, particularly compared to the Rufus Wainwright version, which is my favorite.

My mom has awesome taste in music.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:05 AM on April 17, 2010


Previously.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 9:13 AM on April 17, 2010


Sorry, something ate that link. Opening Ceremonies KD Lang .
posted by mek at 3:40 AM on April 17 [+] [!]


FYI the link I posted is an actual video of her performance - go watch it! This YT link is only the audio with an image placeholder to make it a video. The Olympic committee has taken down all the youtube links to the actual performance. It's well worth watching her actually sing as she uses her whole body to express herself.

Here is the link again for your convenience :)
posted by smartypantz at 9:38 AM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've heard there exists some person so incredibly hip they've never sang this song.
posted by HTuttle at 4:26 PM on April 17, 2010


All y'all want to buy hymns of the 49th parallel, which has her blasting out this song in perfect form, as well as a number of other glorious performances.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:30 PM on April 17, 2010


I wouldn't mind all the covers of this song so much, if someone at least would bring back a couple of the verses from Cohen's original version of the song:

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 ya?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken 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...

posted by dnash at 6:44 PM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


dnash, those are two of my favorite verses, and, FWIW, I included them in my rendition, which I linked to in an earlier comment in this thread.

but, here it is again, for your convenience... and be sure to check out the other Hallelujahs there at Mefi music, there's a slew of 'em.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:46 PM on April 17, 2010


Smartypantz: OMG, thankyou! That's one of the most awesome bits of music-on-video I've ever seen (not that I've seen a lot, generally disliking to mix the purity of audio with video). I adore Lang's voice and performance.
posted by Goofyy at 4:10 AM on April 18, 2010


I would officially rather listen to Leonard Cohen's wonderful gravelly voice sing for three billion years than listen to Jeff Buckley's whine for even five seconds.

Can I see the menu again?
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:43 AM on April 18, 2010


Lang sang Hallelujah at the Vancouver Olympics closing ceremony.

She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Kind of a weird choice of song, if you ask me.


I think "Toot a bugle, beat a drum, stand on top of someone's thumb. Hallelujah" would have been much better.
posted by stormpooper at 7:09 AM on April 19, 2010


I gave Cohen's Ten New Songs a listen the other day. Superb. And his voice is much improved with age.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 AM on April 19, 2010


I gave Cohen's Ten New Songs a listen the other day. Superb.

Yes. The first two songs on the album, "In My Secret Life" and "A Thousand Kisses Deep", are especially good, I think.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:14 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


just found this...
posted by HuronBob at 7:15 PM on May 9, 2010


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