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 Posted:   Jan 2, 2013 - 4:11 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

The first time heard the song HALLELUJAH was in Shrek, a children’s movie. (I liked
the first movie.) I’ve noticed when it is sung on TV, we get the shortened version. A few
weeks ago, all the people on The Voice sang it as a tribute to the fallen children and
teachers in Connecticut. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1T7JwwyAv8
Heart breaking rendition. I finally decided to look up the lyrics which are posted below.
I’m struggling with my preconceived notion that this song is for children or is religious.
I find it pretty sexual, and it sounds to me like it is about the heart-breaking loss or
diminishment of love. Anyone else want to posit some ideas of the meaning of these
lyrics?


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?
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 in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah







 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2013 - 4:24 PM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

I think it's sexual too. Of course, I find that sex is the common thread that runs through Cohen's work most often. Some, like me, think of the body as a temple and that the physical act of lovemaking is as close to a spiritual appreciation (or worship, if you will) of that temple as one can achieve. Personally, I think that (and the possible emotional consequences) is what Cohen was getting at, but there's plenty of room for different interpretations

I'm about as far from a prude as you can get, but I thought that it's use in "Shrek" was pretty inappropriate. I can't imagine what the filmmakers were thinking. Probably because Jeff Buckley's version was still reasonably fresh in everyone's eyes and they wanted to appear "cutting-edge", but still use a safer version like Cale's or Wainwright's. If someone can connect the dots from the lyrical content to the movie's plot for me, I'd appreciate it.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2013 - 4:29 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I hear you, Octoberman. I too can't connect the song to the narrative of Shrek, and the lyrics
are not children's lyrics.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2013 - 4:47 PM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

It always seems to me to be a cry of anguish from someone whose been broken to the bone by a powerfully sexual relationship that burned and hurt like a religious experience but shattered the soul and left all in tatters.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2013 - 4:53 PM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)

I think it is just about obsessive love and hurt. Coupled with metaphors to some religious crap.

 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2013 - 5:18 PM   
 By:   jwb79   (Member)

Walt Disney's animated movies have some sexual innuendo in them to one degree or another. Hallelujah isn't a children's song in my opinion. The meaning of the song is up to your interpretation of it. For what it is worth, Katherine Jenkins sang this song on her album called Sacred Arias. She used her artistic license and shortened it somewhat so it's not the full version but I do like her voice.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 2, 2013 - 7:36 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Nice version of a very pretty song, Make it what you will, trying to know exactly what lyrics in songs always means is so often a futile effort.although of course it is just one's opinion i seem to find it easier to disect films or books then lyrics.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 3, 2013 - 12:38 PM   
 By:   Adam S   (Member)

Glad to see Joan mention this song. My favorite of Leonard Cohen's that has been performed by a lot of different people. I'm convinced there is still a perfect version waiting to be done as I'm never satisfied with the musical treatment of it, including Cohen's. But maybe I'm too picky.

I think I remember Cohen referring to the song as a celebration of life which may be counterintuitive since it is a failed relationship that is the basis for the song. But I think in that sense "Hallelujah" retains some of its original meaning of conveying some joy, albeit in a bittersweet fashion. The lyrics are ingenious IMO. By using the failed relationship as the hook, he's able to contrast the Hallelujah of the devine (his ex) and the "broken hallelujah" which I think he suggests is about taking stock in the world as it is - music, beauty, love (however fleeting) and even our failures. As a non-religious person, the lyrics resonate with me.

A couple of the parts that speak to this are:
"Its not a cry that you hear at night, its not someone who has seen the light, its a cold and its a broken hallelujah."
"Even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah"

Even the first verse, which sounds religious, upon reflection seems to be an attempt by Cohen to relate his music to his ex in a way that she can appreciate by talking about the secret chord that David played to please the Lord. He says, "but you don't really care for music do you?"

Anyway, I could go on and on but I think it is a very good song with the potential to be off the charts awesome if somebody could really bring out the simple but emotional chord progression which so rarely gets sufficient treatment. But either way, Cohen is a poet with interesting things to say. Thanks again for bringing up this song!

- Adam

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 4, 2013 - 2:05 PM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

My favorite version of this song is by K. D. Lang -- I note there are several live versions of the song as sung by her available in addition to the studio recording on CD. Second would be Cohen's.

I thought the way it was used in "Watchmen" was a hoot -- although I remember one critic who reviewed "Watchmen" (negatively) threatened to walk out of the next film that used the song as background score. It must have been popping up in a lot of movies around that time.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 4, 2013 - 2:31 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Adam, I really enjoyed your insights into this song. Thanks.

 
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