mellicious: pink manicure (Xmas lights pink)
[personal profile] mellicious
I seem to be getting a fair number of entry ideas from Twitter this year - not surprisingly, since I finally gave in to Twitter this year in a big way after resisting it for a long time. I think I got this link from somewhere else originally but I know I tweeted it one day a couple of weeks ago: apparently somebody wrote an entire book about Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", and then somebody else wrote an article about both the book and the song for The Atlantic with multiple video links, which the book presumably lacks).

(The title refers to a song that I always wanted to be allowed to sing when I was in high school - that Mozart song with all the runs and trills. I had a tendency to pick over-ambitious songs and that certainly qualifies. I think from looking around online it's usually spelled "Alleluia" but anyway, same word-root but a far different song. I think you can find many versions of that on YouTube, also -  but I can't hunt around for one I like since I don't have any sound where I am!)

Anyway, this is about the Leonard Cohen song, not Mozart. I was interested in that article because it had several versions I knew and several I didn't. I knew I had a bunch of versions on my iTunes, and when I looked there were seven:
Jeff Buckley
k.d.lang
Timberlake/Morris (from the Hope for Haiti benefit album)
Brandi Carlile (live)
and 3 from Idol contestants: Jason Castro, Tim Urban, Lee DeWyze
(Man, I think I'm just a sucker for this song. I don't even LIKE Lee DeWyze all that much.)

I don't want to talk about my bad Idol habit, which this could easily drift into, but anyway, clearly I like this song a LOT. Like a lot of other people clearly do, too. I will say that it definitely has become a staple of all the singing competitions that are so popular these days. After I had already written a draft of this, a 13-year-old X-Factor finalist did a pretty good version, too - I couldn't find a direct link but it's still on the website as of today. (It was 2nd place finisher Carly Rose Sonenclar, and it was labeled "Carly Rose's $5m song" or something to that effect. I'm sure it's probably available on iTunes for a little while longer, too, if you're determined to track it down!) I thought it sounded fairly similar to the Alexandra Burke version - which you can see on that Atlantic page, and which was also X-Factor, although it was the British X-Factor rather than the American one, and apparently it was a big hit in Britain at the time. (But I had never heard it until I read that piece the other day, actually.)

The funny thing is, I don't much like the Leonard Cohen version. I think it's safe to say that in general I like Leonard Cohen more in theory than I do in practice. He's too... raw, or something. And I'm sure it's not news to anybody when I say that he's not really a terribly good singer, in the pure sense. (Wasn't there a version by Cohen on the "Watchmen" soundtrack? I didn't find it the other day when I looked, but I seem to remember that I liked that one better.)

That article mentions it being big at weddings, which I think is strange. Do people not listen to the lyrics of their wedding music? Very downbeat for a wedding, seems to me. I mean, I guess it's not completely inappropriate, but it's certainly not "We've Only Just Begun."**

**I realize that The Carpenters are undoubtedly not fashionable wedding music nowadays - but that's what was big when I was in high school, so that's what popped into my head as a contrast. It's just my age showing, that's all.

Date: 2012-12-27 01:37 am (UTC)
platypus: (tay)
From: [personal profile] platypus
Yeah, Watchmen used one of the two Cohen versions I have. I love John Cale's version best, I think; he sounds kind of rough and world-weary in a way that I think suits the song. (It's just a touch fast. There's a slower live version, but it's not quite as good otherwise.) Buckley's feels just a little too pretty for me, though it seems to be everyone's favorite. (IIRC, Cale put together the version most everybody does now, picking mostly the good bits from Cohen's various revisions.)

Date: 2012-12-27 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mellificent.livejournal.com
I do like the Buckley one a lot, but yeah, it is very pretty - which maybe is why it sells so well. I do agree with you that rough suits the song.

You mentioned the revisions, and that reminded me that I forgot to even mention the bit from the article that said that Cohen wrote like 90 verses to it. That fascinates me, a bit - I might have to google about and see if I can find some more of them!

Date: 2012-12-27 01:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dinda.livejournal.com
I like the Cale version from Shrek as well. First time I encountered that song and the lyrics seemed a bit rough for a 'kid's movie'; can't imagine it being a good wedding song either.

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