The song for today’s Music Monday (thanks Emily) is Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (as performed by Rufus Wainwright). It’s a beautiful, haunting, sad and joyful song. I don’t know when I first heard this song but I rediscovered it of all places in the Shrek soundtrack. I’ll have to watch Shrek again sometime just to see how they work it in. There are a number of versions available on YouTube and there’s a good article on the song on Wikipedia. (The YouTube link here is to the version used in the final episode of the first series of the OC).
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen, performed by Rufus Wainwright)
Now 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
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and 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
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
There was a time 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 dark was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Maybe there’s a God above
And all I ever learned from Love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.
I love the way the first verse describes what happens in the music: “the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift”. The baffled composer is David but it’s also Cohen himself. Later on, two lines really stand out for me: “Love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.” My immediate association was with the Obama victory. I suppose all the excitement about Obama is starting to wane a little now and I see some anxiety creeping in. Will he disappoint like so many of our other heroes in the past? Dick Jones reminds us that we should be naturally suspicious of anyone who seeks power. One blogger that I saw even made a connection with Fascist leaders like Hitler and recalled how they were initially received with adulation. Obama seems so far removed from those leaders that I think the comparison is completely misplaced. (I would rather go with those who see a paradigm shift in politics.) But I think the point about being wary of those in authority is a good one.
And I think I’m being perverse in seeing the Obama victory slowly turning into a “cold and broken Hallelujah”. I mean, give the guy a chance! He’s not even in office yet.
I’d love to know other people’s reactions to this song. One powerful association, for Americans anyway, is with the 9/11 tribute documentaries. And which version do you prefer? I like Rufus Wainwright’s performance (although not the YouTube version) but I have to admit that KD Lang nails those Hallelujahs.