Musical Advent Calendar Day 18: Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
December 18, 2017
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Ok, so I said I wouldn’t put this one in. I changed my mind. So, what can I say that’s new about the song that spawned a thousand cover versions and a million open-mic night travesties?
- The origin of the word ‘hallelujah’: from Hebrew hallalu-yah “praise ye Jehovah,” from hallalu, plural imperative of hallel “to praise” also “song of praise,” from hillel “he praised,” of imitative origin, with primary sense being “to trill.” Second element is yah, shortened form of Yahweh, name of God. Other Abrahamic faiths are also available.
- In Cohen’s native Montreal, the street sign for Marie-Anne Street got a makeover on his death (see above).
- According to the same article in El Pais I nicked the photo from (yes, I’ve been doing my Spanish homework) Leonard used to buy his bagels at Bagel Etc (Saint-Laurent, 4320). There’s a whole walking tour industry around his old haunts now.
- One of the writing sessions for the original 80 verses of the song took place at the Royalton hotel in New York, where he was reduced to sitting in his underwear, banging his head on the floor. The dent on the floor in room 113 is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Okay, so I made that second bit up.
…and yeah, I know all about the Buckley vs Burke version yada yada, but I’m sticking with Lenny. There’s a fine version on his late-period live album from London, but I’m going with this one which shows him giving it everything but the kitchen sink in San Sebastian in 1988. Vaya con los angeles, Leonard!
I‘ve finally got around after 18 days of preaching at the rest of you about it, to donating to the Red Cross Appeal for Myanmar. It only took a second. Here’s the link.
PS if you want a female singer’s version, kd lang can sing it a bit – an interview I saw with LC quoted this particular performance with approval:
Rampant commercialisation may happen below here. If so, boo!