Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


*This is a link laden piece, and it's worth exploring the links presented*

I was reading Andrew Sullivan's blog this morning and he had a post on the song Hallelujah. The original song was written by Leonard Cohen, and he managed to find the lyrics and post them here along with the second probably more widely known version of the song by Jeff Buckley as performed by KD Lang.

The YouTube video above of course is neither Lang, Buckley or Cohen, but I liked this guys voice and he managed to capture Buckley's spirit pretty well in his playing the song.

If you have a chance to hear the Leonard Cohen (original) version of the song do it (and here's a link).

The song has been reinterpreted lyrically only once by Jeff Buckley, but his version with its melancholic melody has been performed numerous times, once even by John Cale, who plays the Buckley version but attributes it to Cohen.

These are the lyrics to the Jeff Buckley version from AZLyrics:

Well I heard there was a secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do ya?
Well it goes like this :
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah...

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
And she tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah...

(Yeah but) Baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor, (You know)
I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
and love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah...

Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah



Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelu...
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelu...
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah


This version is distinctly different from that of Cohen's in terms of melody and tempo and of course Cohen's version and Buckley's version end differently. Cohen's version doesn't have the "Maybe there's a God above/ but all I've ever learned from love," verse but ends thusly:

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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, 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

To me it seems like Buckley's last verse is a lyrically smart way of condensing Cohen's final two verses, but not one that is lacking his own interpretations.

Now for the extremely personal...

I fell in love with this song, the Buckley version, a few years back after a tragic accident in which a special person I knew died. The honest lyrics that express the underlying duality of the nature of "Love" and the inherent contradictions, and the incredibly haunting melody helped me put the grief I had into perspective.

I no longer am grieving the loss of so special a friend today but every time I hear this song I'm drawn back and into some deeper meaning within... about the relationships we share with one another, the give and the take the triumph and the tragedy. I can't explain it but I can feel it within my depths that love is not a victory march, nor is it only a cry you hear at night, and It's not just somebody who's seen the light, It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah, and despite the harshness of those words there's immense truth and grace to them and the sum of the human experience.

I had the distinct honour and pleasure of hearing this song performed live in Atlanta as a duet between Rufus and Martha Wainwright with the person for whom I am deeply in love, and with whom I hope to spend the rest of my life. Needless to say it was a powerful experience. And though I couldn't find a version of Martha and Rufus, here's Rufus singing "Hallelujah" live in NYC.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: