Monday, December 29, 2008

MONDAY LYRICS | Hallelujah

When I heard 'Hallelujah' for the first time (the Jeff Buckley version, before I knew that it was a Leonard Cohen song) I realize for the first time, that, you know, that the word 'Hallelujah', in the religious interpretation of the word, does not have any thing to do with fitting, or conforming or belonging to any institution or organization. In fact it's the opposite. It's about, you know, the struggle.

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

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

It just basically says that life and religion is not about belonging. It's about pain, and religious transformation. And so the first time I heard that song, I fell in love with it and started covering it. Because it spoke to me in that way. And, I haven't stopped since, in spite of many people having covered that song, way better than me.

~ Brandi Carlile explaining why she sings 'Hallelujah' [ source ]


You could say that 'Hallelujah' is one of those songs that resonant with me. I have several covers of it on my iPod, including the original Leonard Cohen version and the Jeff Buckley version. It's love, life, sex, pain and spirituality all mixed up together. 

David and Samson - both blessed by the divine, great amongst men. They fell because of their passions. David for Bathsheba. Samson for Delilah.  

We are weak. We stumble along the way, falling short. We fail those who love us. We suffer because of our human weaknesses. Yet the song has always felt to me, to be a rapturous celebration of the condition of being human, of love, of passion.

I wanted to post a video of someone singing 'Hallelujah'. There were many different covers on Youtube. When I found Brandi Carlile's speech about how she come to the song, and what it meant to her, the choice become obvious.

We can all love the same song for different reasons. But I believe Brandi Carlile gets the essence of the song, that it touched her on a deep and personal level. Many people think Jeff Buckley did the ultimate version. Maybe they are right. But this is the version I chose to share with you. Because I agree that life and religion is not about belonging or being safe and comfortable. It is about pain, the struggle and transformation. I don't believe God needs you to go to church. Instead, I believe religion, or spirituality, is about how it transforms you inside.

We are both human and divine. This song celebrates that.


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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well darling, I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room, I’ve walked these floors
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya
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
And now you never show that to me, do ya?
Remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

So maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Is how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
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, Hallelujah
Hallelujah … Hallelujah

Goodbye 2008.

Note: I did post the Youtube video previously - but the video has since been removed by Youtube Nazis. Sorry folks.


serene said...

I adore "Hallelujah" and like the many you mentioned, stand by Jeff Buckley's version as definitive-- the Leonard Cohen original is a little too drawl-y for me... And I can't see/listen to the Brandi Carlisle one you posted (it got removed I think).

Interestingly, I had posted something about the song a couple of years ago too:

I even had the video of Buckley singing it 'live', but I think it got removed by the same dark forces that removed your Brandi Carlisle video. YouTube nazis...

darkorpheus said...

Serene - darn. I'll have to remove the video then. It was a good performance, with a back up band.

One day when we meet up, I'll show you the video I download on my Nano.

darkorpheus said...

I actually prefer the deep manly drawl of Cohen's voice. There is something a little weathered and beaten about that voice. When I listen to the Leonard Cohen version, I can imagine a man in the twilight of his years who has loved and lost and yet still dreams of passions that has failed him. There is a plaintive nostalgia in the Cohen version.

Jeff Buckley - there is something a little melancholic about the version, but he sounds like a young man. Do I dare say it - he sounds too young to be that melancholic.

Brandi Carlile version is interesting to me because she has this freshness to her, but she also has a very emotional core to her singing. Listening to Brandi Carlile's cover, I feel an exuberance that comes from her youth and her rich vocals. It is really about celebration of the human spirit.

Melwyk said...

Have you heard k.d. lang's cover? It gives me goosebumps.

darkorpheus said...

Melanie - Oh yeah :) I have the k.d. lang version on my iPod too. It's on that album on hers, 49th Hymns or something - where she covers the great Canadian singers - and Leonard Cohen's and Joni Mitchell's songs were covered.

kd lang just has this awesome voice. I read once in a magazine, she is sometimes surprised by the voice that comes out from her own body. It's a gift, really.

Ana S. said...

I adore this song, and I love the speech you posted.

Also, I think I agree with you on the Buckley/Cohen versions. I'm a fan of both, really, but Cohen's voice seems to fit it better.

darkorpheus said...

Nymeth - In a way, maybe Cohen's and Buckley's version are 2 different songs. Totally possible to love both, I believe.