Hallelujah: How to Shoot Someone Who Outdrew You

In an earlier post, we considered Jeff Buckley, his father Tim, and Robert Plant, vocalist from the band Led Zeppelin.

The take away was simple: Tim Buckley penned one of the most amazing love songs ever in the form of Song of the Siren.

However, his son would be venerated for a different song, one penned by the king of self aware cynicism, Leonard Cohen.

For once, Cohen wasn’t being cynical…

*

Cohen spent a good deal of time working on Hallelujah.

Coming up with over 80 odd drafts, sitting in his underwear, banging his head against the floor of his hotel room.

He took his hints from the Bible; the story of Samson and Delilah from the Book of Judges shows up, as does King David’s obsession with Bathsheba.

And…

Nobody cared.

*

Flash forward a few years, and Velvet Underground founding member John Cale assembled a Frankenstein cover of Hallelujah for a Cohen tribute album.

Cale had seen Cohen perform the song live, and asked him for the lyrics…

15 pages of faxes later, Cale had a source book to edit from, and created a formalized version of the track, which would become the template for Buckley, and most subsequent covers.

That is for everyone but Cohen, who performed the song until his death in 2016, changing the lyrics to fit his mood.

Regardless, here’s the version that most of us have been exposed to:

*
I’d heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well, it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well, your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya

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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah Well baby, I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah Well, maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah

*

And the take away for this post?

Happy Valentines Day, and Hallelujah for the ones who love us…

And Leonard’s version:

One thought on “Hallelujah: How to Shoot Someone Who Outdrew You

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