Rufus Wainwright and 1500 singers
July 3, 2016 5:57 PM   Subscribe


bonus Prince tribute by Choir! Choir! Choir!
posted by HuronBob (27 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Anything by Rufus Wainwright is worth a click and a listen. At work at the moment but you can be damn sure that this is the first thing I'm listenign to when I get home later tonight. Thanks for this post.
posted by Fizz at 6:03 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not just any choir. Choir!Choir!Choir!
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:34 PM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Thanks for this!
posted by carter at 6:50 PM on July 3, 2016

posted by pixlboi at 7:02 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Are there better versions of Hallelujah? Sure... of course there are.. But the sense of community and acceptance in this event is fantastic. There are too few opportunities for individuals to engage in a passion with absolutely no judgement, we need more of this. This (and the other videos by Choir! Choir! Choir!) made me smile...
posted by HuronBob at 7:17 PM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Absolutely lovely.

I learned about Choir!Choir!Choir! (previously) when I was browsing old AskMe questions. I listen to their cover of Africa once in a while. I love how everyone's joy just bubbles through, I love how there's a space for everyone, I am just so in love with the whole enterprise.
posted by invokeuse at 7:24 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I read the "skin orgasms" thread I couldn't think of any music that could reliably produce the frisson sensation for me, but today I discover, it's this. All of these.

Lovely, thank you.
posted by misfish at 7:32 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ah jeez, I have never been more sorry that I didn't hear about Choir! Choir! Choir! until I was on my way out of Toronto. I would have given anything to be there :(
posted by quaking fajita at 8:20 PM on July 3, 2016

I wept. After Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq, it was just what the doctor ordered. Thank you!:)
posted by littlemanclan at 9:12 PM on July 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Hallelujou, hallelujou...
posted by zamboni at 9:32 PM on July 3, 2016

I have never understood this song except as a cry of despair and acceptance. I feel like I am missing something that other people hear in it as it gets played to death with such a degree of enthusiasm and often as if it is supposed to be uplifting. This particular version does not murder it that way, however the cheers and whoops! at the end destroy completely what the lyric means to me. Am I just completely off base? I like some versions of the song but what it means to me is surrender not triumph or community. It means loneliness and relief from suffering through the embrace of it. Am I just a sourpuss?
posted by Pembquist at 12:46 AM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

so sweet
posted by james33 at 2:52 AM on July 4, 2016

This is pretty awesome, and I can only imagine the vibe in that room while it was going on. Look at the size of that place!

My problem with almost all covers of Hallelujah (unfortunately including Wainwright's, which is exemplary in every other respect) is that nearly every single cover artist takes John Cale's version as a model, one way or another, and so they all use the set of alternate verses that he used. And me? I love the original verses (although not Cohen's original VERSION, which is from 1985 and, er, sounds like it. And not in a good way.)

Here's Cohen live a few years back, though, with his voice tempered and made into something astonishing by time, singing a version of the song that includes the verses I love.
You say I took the name in vain,
But I don't even know the name!
And 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!

I did my best, it wasn't much;
I couldn't feel, so I learned 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 adrienneleigh at 2:54 AM on July 4, 2016 [15 favorites]

Pembquist - Cohen himself, as you might imagine, has said a fair bit about the song over the years. And yes, yes, Death of the Author and everything, but here's a couple things that might be relevant to the way you think about it:
"I wanted to write something in the tradition of the hallelujah choruses but from a different point of view.... It's the notion that there is no perfection -- that this is a broken world and we live with broken hearts and broken lives but still that is no alibi for anything. On the contrary, you have to stand up and say 'hallelujah' under those circumstances."
source: LA Times
"That's what it's all about. It says that none of this - you're not going to be able to work this thing out - you're not going to be able to set - this realm does not admit to revolution - there's no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say 'Look, I don't understand a fucking thing at all - Hallelujah!' That's the only moment that we live here fully as human beings."
Source: RtE
posted by adrienneleigh at 3:07 AM on July 4, 2016 [18 favorites]

I have never understood this song except as a cry of despair and acceptance

As a father of a six year old, I have never heard the song except as a montage of Shrek and Fiona's broken hearts.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:18 AM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well, that Youtube channel is now the soundtrack to my day. And I know what I'm doing next time I'm in Toronto. (and Hallelujah isn't about the words, it's about the harmonies)
posted by kjs4 at 6:02 AM on July 4, 2016

This particular version does not murder it that way, however the cheers and whoops! at the end destroy completely what the lyric means to me.

I think there's exuberance in performance and then exuberance about the event, and I take the cheers and whoops here as strictly the latter—how goddam rad would it be to get together with 1500 folks and sing along with Rufus and knock it out of the park, etc. It's just needed to separate the two a little bit emotionally, to not read joyfulness about the event as joyfulness about the text, etc.

But in general I really like the song, even as much as people have gotten sick of its varying omnipresence in pop culture as a go-to maudlin soundtrack beat, for the way it marries the fractured, self-contradicting emotional landscape of the lyrics with that great great rise-and-fall harmonic arrangement. It's so effectively moving partly because it's not a happy song and yet as a chunk of musical content it's so effective and engaging; but effective and engaging music moves us to catharsis, and catharsis can be such a relieving, joyful experience even when that contradicts the lyrics that got us there.

I would feel weird watching someone smile a fake thousand-watt smile through a performance of the song or such like, but I also can't imagine not smiling and feeling amazing at the end if I'd just been there singing that with all those people. It's a contradiction but it's also not. Music and performance are strange, wonderful things.
posted by cortex at 6:55 AM on July 4, 2016 [9 favorites]

I had actually wanted to do a FPP about Choir!Choir!Choir! for a while, but I'm tangentially involved (I'm a frequent attendee, but not one of the organizers...I'm in the middle of that crowd somewhere) and the mods felt like it danced to close to self-promotion, and the mods are wise in all things.

To provide a bit of background, C!C!C! gets together every week in a bar and learns a choral arrangement for a modern pop/rock song. Anything, chronologically speaking, from early Beatles to Beyoncé (we're doing a song from Lemonade this week). No auditions, and your organize yourself into Lows, Mids, or Highs. The two guys that lead it spend about 1-1.5 hours teaching each section their parts and then the group sings it all together and records it.

I can't really put into words the joy of singing in a group of people who just love the fun of it. And the guys who create the arrangements always make us sound amazing, regardless of talent.

A few examples of my favourite examples of what a regular choir event looks like:
The Leonard Cohen version of Hallelujah
America by Simon and Garfunkel
Blank Space by Taylor Swift
A Little Respect by Erasure (post-Orlando)
Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

One final little bit of context about this video: We had a chance to hear some words from the guy who directed it before it got posted last week. He talked about being a little sceptical of the whole concept of Choir!Choir!Choir! when he first heard about it. Eventually he got around to watching some of the videos on the YouTube page. He said that when he did, he said to himself, "Oh, right. This is why I live in Toronto."
posted by dry white toast at 7:18 AM on July 4, 2016 [19 favorites]

I like to call this "the second best song from Shrek" just to see how many Canadians are in a room.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:46 AM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thankyou Adrienneleigh. That really captures how I've always understood the song.

Never saw Shrek, my cultural competence index score is low!
posted by Pembquist at 9:57 AM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

@Pembquist, yes. But then you have to stop and remember that the majority of people don't really pay attention to lyrics, especially when a song sounds like this one does, and double especially when it throws in that "religious" word.

I think it is a song of misery, and it's kinda fitting it never really got any attention until Jeff Buckley's version got noticed after his body was found in the Mississippi River.
posted by old_growler at 1:22 PM on July 4, 2016

Yeah, goosebumps for me too. There's just something about getting a lot of people together and having them sing their hearts out... I love it.
posted by tuesdayschild at 6:17 PM on July 4, 2016

I like to call this "the second best song from Shrek" just to see how many Canadians are in a room.

What's the best song?
posted by Billiken at 6:28 AM on July 5, 2016

I got my frisson. Thank you to the OP.
posted by Quiplash at 4:21 PM on July 5, 2016

Choir!Choir!Choir! videos make me cry. Every time. Huge groups of humans working together on anything gets me.
posted by DigDoug at 10:01 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

That is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Fierce at 1:45 PM on July 7, 2016

This is good.
posted by schmod at 12:30 PM on July 11, 2016

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