The Baffled King Regretting “Hallelujah” . . .

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

. . . Hallelujah



Halle . . .
oh, STOP already!

That’s also the attitude now of the artist who originally came up with that (admittedly beautiful and profound) ballad, as we read in the Dutch De Volkskrant: Leonard Cohen: Stop covering Hallelujah! “It’s a good song,” as he’s quoted in the article’s first paragraph from last week, “but too many people sing it.”

Cohen goes on: “I read a review of the film Watchmen where Hallelujah is used and the reviewer said ‘Can we please get a ban on the use of Hallelujah in films and TV shows?’ and I think about it a bit the same way.” Then again, he can”t resist adding “The Sony record company didn’t want to issue the album that Hallelujah was on. [That was his Various Positions album, issued instead in 1984 by Passport Records.] They didn’t find it good enough.”

Even if you don’t read Dutch, you might want to click through to this piece anyway for, in good twenty-first century multi-media style, the YouTube videos of five different treatments of “Hallelujah” are embedded at the bottom: Cohen himself (of course), Jeff Buckley, John Cale, k.d. lang – and Lisa Hordijk (known simply as “Lisa”), recent winner of the Dutch “X Factor” and whose own treatment of “Hallelujah” spent eight weeks in the upper reaches of the Dutch pop charts this past spring. But this could also make you stop and ponder: Why did the Volkskrant editors include these? Did they do it without thinking – in effect, unwittingly substantiating Cohen’s complaint – or in defiance of his wishes, or what?

Another thing: You’ll find that the YouTube videos are arranged vertically, with at the very bottom the version of Cohen – The Master – and at the top (i.e. accessible with the least scrolling) . . . yes, Lisa. I guess here in the Netherlands we’re sometimes just . . . well, a bit provincial (we’ve got twelve of ’em, in fact).

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