Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

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

Hallelujah (4x)

Well 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 And she broke your throne and she cut your hair And from your lips, she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah (4x)

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 (4x)

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 (4x)

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 (13x)

If breaking up with somebody you love isn’t heart-wrenching enough, then we’re pretty sure that losing somebody you love because that person died will give you a pain so abysmal, no words in any language in the world could describe the intensity of it. The passionate moments you shared together, the cherished moments or the heartbreaks you both suffered when you fought against each other, only to be reunited after dark with sweet lovemaking, surely made life worthwhile. The emotions involved in this kind of relationship is so great, it’s almost spiritual.  So, it’s only reasonable to feel that, when this kind of relationship ends, it’s as if the world had ceased to be.

Now, imagine a song which captures the sullen effect of having both a break-up and a death of a loved one into one piece of art. This is what  Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen has for you. A slow, sad and dreary song about making love while slightly hinting that this love has been lost, all masked in Christian religious symbolism.

Released in 1984, this song is quite mixed up in its origins. Leonard Cohen was a devout Jew who practiced Zen Buddhism and insisted that there is no religious conflict between his being a Jew to his Zen meditations. But he wrote a gospel sounding song with obvious Christian overtones but with ironically sexual undertones. The lines, “Well 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/And she broke your throne and she cut your hair/And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah” appear to heavily reference David and Bathsheba’s illicit affair and Samson and Delilah’s romantic relationship. Although conflicting as that seem,  Hallelujah is arguably a very poetic and a very timeless song, a fitting choice for a funeral ceremony for a lover who passed away.

Since its release, there had been many artists who covered the song and many of them changed or added some of the lyrics and verses of the song, to which Cohen seemed to have no problem with. All in all, there are 300 versions of this one song and this includes Cohen having sung the song with different lyrics on two separate occasions: one in a performance in 1988 and another in 1993.

Despite its theme, Hallelujah is a very popular funeral song choice. It’s popularity, with the song being featured in movies and in tv-shows alike, makes it resonate with many people with its deep and heavy melody (not to mention how it sounds and feels like a Johnny Cash song) that evokes a certain kind of loneliness that’s akin to the experience of grief and loss which is only compounded by the fact that this is about the loss of a romantic lover.

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