A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 20 December 2008


Forget Alexandra Burke. Apart from Leonard Cohen's own, THIS is the best version of Hallelujah! IMO, of course. I'm open to other suggestions...

Jeff Buckley (1966-97)


am said...

Every time I hear Jeff Buckley sing this version of "Hallelujah," I'm astonished and moved once again. It's as if his voice comes from the beginning of time. An ancestral voice. I heard his father, Tim Buckley, sing in a small club in Palo Alto, California, in the late 1960's or early 1970's and, before that, in San Francisco at Winterland. Their voices stand out from all the other voices I've heard in my lifetime.


"I've heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord."

Yes indeed.

Dominic Rivron said...

I don't know any Jeff Buckley or the song, I'm afraid, but I enjoyed listening to it.

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

I love that version of it. Sony also put out a 'live' version with Jeff Bickley, but you can't embed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AratTMGrHaQ
In a different mood I like to listen to Allison Crowe singing it accompanying herself on the piano. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIMOdVXAPJ0 And I quite like listening to K D Lang singing it as well. Remarkable song.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Thank you for this - (I went to You Tube to watch the video, as for some reason they won't play when I click on people's blogs). It is a remarkable version, and very moving.

I found KD Lang's rendering of the song via John Soanes (http://johnsoanes.blogspot.com)- he makes some interesting comments about Leonard Cohen in his Dec 14th post.

I love all three versions I've heard/seen: Alexandra, KD and Jeff Buckley - possibly KD's best. Will have to try Cohen's original version next...

What an interesting world you have on planet Earth!

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, most of the interpretations have something to offer, though I really do think Alexandra Burke massacres it. The Jeff Buckley version is sublime.

It is a remarkable song, I agree. The way the upward chord progressions mirror the words and meaning is astonishing. And the meaning itself is just obscure enough to provide years of endless debate! The marrying of the personal and the Biblical is beautifully done.

Ultimately I think it's about affirmation of life against all the odds. We're all a mixture of the holy and the broken, saint and sinner - the ideal only exists perhaps in the next world. Meanwhile all we can do is say 'Hallelujah!' to the absurdity and the hopelessness of it all. If we give ourselves up to the madness and conflict of the temporal world, and admit our own failures and mistakes and weaknesses - bring them all to the table - we just might achieve grace. There's a kind of Buddhist acceptance going on behind the Judaeo-Christian framework.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Maybe. I do not have any thoelogical views, but I know there are, and have been, people who have made large and small improvements in various types of 'hopelessness' by not accepting it.

And though it may seem small compared with major issues, one of the reasons I was very moved hearing Alexandra sing the song when she won the X Factor, was because she hadn't given up after she didn't make it last time!

(Commenting on your subsequent post, while on this one; it's good to read that someone else bangs their head on the floor during the creative process!)

The Solitary Walker said...

I feel mean about Alexandra now! Of course - I respect her tenacity. Just don't like her particular interpretation of the song.

Re attempts to fight against life's 'hopelessness' - yes, yes, yes, many examples large and small - but here I was just attempting to understand Cohen's message behind the song in a philosphical, existential way.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I know what you mean, and there does seem to be a kind of paradox in everything too.