Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah is the focus of a feature-length documentary about the life of the poet/songwriter/singer. Cohen died November 7, 2016, at the age of 82.
SONG NOTES (from Genius.com)
By some interpretations, Cohen is in an argument with God. King David’s “hallelujah,” in the book of Psalms, is said to have pleased the Lord. Cohen addresses God: “But you don’t really care for music, do you?”
For others, we talk about the evolution of a relationship through a metaphor that mixes sex and religion.
Cohen originally wrote around 80 verses of the song, and used a different selection of the verses in the original recording and in a 1988 live performance.
The song wasn’t all that popular when it first came out. However, it was covered by John Cale, in 1991, for a tribute album. He used the modified lyrics, based on Cohen’s 1988 live version. Jeff Buckley heard Cale’s version and did his own cover on his 1994 album Grace. Buckley’s version went on to become the most well-known recording of the song.
Since then, the song was covered over 300 times. It is today emblematic and figures among a multitude of film soundtracks and television shows. It became a contemporary standard. Many versions change the lyrics, especially Christian versions that tone down all the ambiguities of the song.
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
But all I ever learn from love
Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
But it’s not a cry you hear at night
It’s not someone who sees the light
It’s a cold and and it’s a broken Hallelujah
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew you
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
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me, do you?
But remember, when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath, we drew was Hallelujah
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah