Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Time is flying.

If you are looking at the date and thinking "today is not the 15th," you are correct. The next Battle of the Bands post is SUPPOSED to fall on the 15th. However, that backs right up to Thursday and my HERE'S TO YOU post. Of course, that post might (emphasis on might) be delayed until Friday if I don't find that YouTube inspiration to correspond to your posts.

I am pretty psyched about my song for this battle. Sometimes I am excited before I start looking and then I deflate a bit. This time, the more I worked on this battle, the better I liked it. I am going to share some information that I found on Wikipedia, simply because I found it *fascinating.* And, I like to think, that if I find something Fascinating, one or two ore more of you will, too.

The song for this battle is Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Here are some of the juicy bits from Wikipedia:

"Hallelujah", in its original version, is a song in "6/8 feel", which evokes both waltz and gospel music. Written in the key of C major, the chord progression "goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift": C, F, G, A minor, F.[7]

Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for "Hallelujah", with one writing session at the Royalton Hotel in New York where he was reduced to sitting on the floor in his underwear, banging his head on the floor.[8] His original version, as recorded on his Various Positions album, contains several biblical references, most notably evoking the stories of Samson and traitorous Delilah from the Book of Judges as well as the adulterous King David and Bathsheba:[9] "she cut your hair" and "you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you".[7]

Following his original 1984 studio-album version, Cohen performed the past original song on his world tour in 1985, but live performances during his 1988 and 1993 tours almost invariably contained a quite different set of lyrics with only the last verse being common to the two versions.

Wowza. 80 draft verses that resulted in him sitting on the floor (in his underwear) banging his head on the floor. People, that is commitment. Leonard Cohen knew that there was magic in this song and was determined to find it. If you look up Cohen's version of this song on YouTube, you will find him singing it differently nearly every time. For the sake of this battle, we are going to go with the ORIGINAL RECORDING.

The song was originally released on his album Various Positions (1984)  The studio didn't really want to record it. It was never released as a single. And it was fairly obscure until John Cale covered it on his album,  I'm Your Fan (1991), a Leonard Cohen tribute album, and later on his live album Fragments of a Rainy Season (1992).

Let's listen to the original Leonard Cohen recording:

If you are more familiar with the covers off of Cale's cover, you are aware that Cohen's Original Recording includes verses others chose to leave out (and puts in verses this one leaves out). So, the essence of the song really changes with the change in lyrics.Well, that isn't the only thing that changes.  But, let me get there....

Back to Wikipedia...
Jeff Buckley, inspired by Cale's earlier cover, recorded one of the best-known[22] versions of "Hallelujah" for his only complete album, Grace, in 1994. Later, in 2007 it was released as single.

Buckley's version was not an instant hit, nor did Buckley live to see the full measure of the reception his recording would ultimately have; he died in 1997. The album on which it appeared did not go Gold in the U.S. until 2002, nine years after its release. In fact, like Cohen's original, the Buckley version was never released as a single, and it first charted posthumously in 2006.

In 2004, Buckley's version was ranked number 259 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[3] The same year Time called Buckley's version "exquisitely sung," observing "Cohen murmured the original like a dirge, but ... Buckley treated the ... song like a tiny capsule of humanity, using his voice to careen between glory and sadness, beauty and pain... It's one of the great songs."[23

In March of 2006, Buckley had his first national Top 10 bestseller when "Hallelujah" was number seven in Norway. In 2007 it made the top 3 on the Swedish charts. In March 2008 it topped Billboard's Hot Digital Songs in the U.S. after a performance of the song by Jason Castro in the seventh season of American Idol.[26][27][28] The sudden resurgence of interest provided both Gold and Platinum status, the RIAA certifying the digital track on 22 April 2008.[29] It has sold 1,144,000 digital copies in the US as of May 2010.[30] It also hit number one in France in March 2008.

Notice that Buckley never lived to see the success of this song. He never read any of the positive reviews.

Here is his version of the song:

Aside from the lyric changes - which completely change the feel of the song - Buckley also changed the arrangement significantly. His interpretation of the vocals is vastly different from Cohen's, evoking a different feeling entirely.

In the end, I think music is all about feeling. Which one of these versions did you feel the most keenly in your soul?  Why? Please share with me in the comments and vote for your favorite.

There are other Battles going on, so be sure to check them out (on Wednesday, that is). Remember... I am a day early here.  To participate in those...

Thank you for voting and sharing your thoughts!!!


  1. That's a tough one, as it's such a powerful song!
    Going with the Leonard Cohen version, as the other was just too slow of a start.
    Sorry, I thought about participating in the battle mid-January, but as usual, my post is already overflowing. If I can cheat and slip the next one in a little late...

  2. This song is not me. Perhaps, I just don't have that type of emotion. In most versions (and I am sick of all the versions), I find no inspiration at all, but rather bitterness, despair, melancholy, and most of all, whining. If I were forced to choose, I would go with Cohen. At least he doesn't whine. The only singer I thought did the song justice was Alexandra Burke.

  3. Being a guitarist, I like that Buckley made this much more guitar-based, and I do like his vocals and the feeling overall a little more in his versions. So while there's no denying that the original was really good, I'm going with Buckley on this one.

  4. This is a rare case where I like the cover a lot more than the original. Buckley. Sad he died so young.

  5. I remember when Jason Castro did this. I can't explain the reason, but I actually like Jeff Buckley's version better.

  6. Alex ~ I really like both versions. There is no wrong answer here.

    JJ ~ That is the wondrous thing about music. Different pieces speak to different people in different ways. I got you down for Cohen... even though this wasn't your favorite.

    Chris ~ The instrumentation in the Buckley version is gorgeous IMHO.

    LC ~ Yeah, it is sad he died so young. He showed so much promise and only completed one album.

    GG ~ You can just say it spoke to you. That works.

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  8. I can't believe that I never noticed the Samson and Delilah reference before. Both versions are very powerful. I think that Cohen's version is slightly eerie, so I prefer Buckley. It's sad that he died so young.


  9. Beautiful choice. I think my favourite version is kd lang's. Takes my breath away every time.

  10. It seems as if everybody and their dog has covered this song.

    Jeff Buckley's version is beautiful. His voice is quite lovely and the instrumentation very soothing. BUT, I really don't feel this song was ever meant to be soothing.

    While I like some of the other Cohen versions of this song better than the one you chose, my vote still goes to the gravelly voiced wordsmith.Cohen is one of my favorites, so I'm not sure who, if anybody, could out BATTLE him, IMO. I definitely feel him.

  11. Julie ~ There are many biblical references in the song. It makes me wonder about the other 70 or so verses I've never heard!

    Joylene ~ I really like KD's version of this song, too. I almost put it up with the others, but it takes so long to listen to THREE songs.

    fae ~ The Cohen version is powerful. I get why you feel it.

  12. This has always been one of my favorite songs! It's just so rich and raw..really grabs you in the chest and holds on until the last note. In a way, it's a little bit disturbing but so very beautiful that you don't realize it until it's over. This is a hard choice: Cohen's is so gravelly and raw, and of course he wrote it so his version would be the most "accurate" one (if any song version can be called accurate). But Buckley's is just gorgeous. So subtle and stirring. I'm going to have to vote for him.

    Thanks for all this information! It all add depth to an already gorgeous song.

  13. I like the tempo/pacing of Cohens, but Buckley's voice pays homage to the intent of the song. Buckley has a powerful, emotive voice.


  14. Hi, Robin...

    SO nice to meet you! Thanks for dropping by my blog earlier. And THANK YOU for posting my badge... SOOO sweet of you.

    I LOVE long comments so no worries. It shows me the blogger really enjoys visiting and reading the post. That is how I am. I WILL ONLY leave a personable comment, which are usually a good size. LOL.

    As for the battle I LOVE Buckley's version. He has a beautiful voice. COHEN is a MAJOR talent though, BUT HIS SINGING is not one of them.

    I was dragged to on of his concerts about five years ago. The tickets were over 600 bucks each!!! I was taken, but it was wasted me. I found his voice similar to a croaking frogs. And he sang nonstop for three hours! The only saving grace was the female lead, who's voice was truly angelic!

    I enjoyed your coffee story. My mom drank coffee all day too. I just recently... within the past few years, became addicted. I make a full, ten cup pot, and drink the whole thing throughout the day. I have no problems with caffeine, so I can drink a cup and go straight to bed. It actually relaxes me. Especially the Colombian coffee. it is SOOOO smoooothe.

    Thanks for sharing you views on this battle.

    ALL the best in 2014. I look forward to getting to know you better!

  15. P.S. LOVE the pup plc in your header! Too funny!

  16. I realize this is notone of your options...(between the two, I likebuckley)...but i would eat my toenails to get josh to do the entire song...he made it uplifting....here is the link. http://youtu.be/tAZaVZ2zlR0

  17. Both are very moving but I'm going with Buckley on the gentle strength of his voice.

  18. Jen ~ It is a hard choice. I really like the last two verses that Cohen used in his version. They really change the direction (and feeling) of the song. But, I also like the verses that Buckley used for the same reason. Thanks for voting!

    Donna ~ Buckley does have a smoother voice... no doubt. And it is extremely powerful in this song.

    Michael ~ So glad you dropped in and decided to stay. It's funny that you say that about Leonard Cohen, because I know just what you mean. He is an amazing song writer. His singing is croaky, though. It works really well on specific songs, but I don't think I could take three hours of it! Hahahaha. As you say, good thing he had a female lead with an angelic voice.

    I am glad you enjoyed the coffee story. I was afraid that it was getting a bit long. I think my comment was as long as your post in the end. Gah. Anyway, that is too funny that you are also a (fairly) new convert to coffee. Maybe the people who hold out the longest end up liking it most?!?! Nah, probably not. My parents would both have argued that theory right into the ground. Ten cups a day??? Wow. There was a time when I might have been able to do that. I used to drink a lot of soda with caffeine in it, but then tapered off. And then I pretty well quit. I only drink it now when I go out to eat. Yesterday, coffee was on my mind all day and I gave up and drank two more cups at between 7-9. I had a terrible time going to sleep. Well, I often have a difficult time, but this was worse than usual. So, I am going to have to quit sooner!!!

    That dog has been my header since I started blogging and still makes me smile. That's why I keep him around!

    Christine ~ Welcome back, girl. I thought you were NEVER going to blog again it had been so long. Thanks for sitting in on this BOTB. I will count your vote for Buckley, but I did listen to your link. He is a talented fellow. Was that a recent season of X Factor? Yeah, I don't watch that. Simon, Paula, and Paul together again. Interesting.

    LD ~ His voice is incredible. I agree!

  19. Very tricky. Any other day I'd just say Leonard Cohen and just be done with it, but I liked Jeff Buckley's version more.

  20. The second one feels more soothing. I like it much better.

    Be well, Robin.


  21. ROBIN ~
    Sorry I'm so late in getting here with my 0.02 cents, but yesterday, life got in my way and under my feet.

    I'll start by saying that I still think it's funny every time I recall how Arlee Bird was concerned that some of us bloggers would one day use the very same song in one of our BOTB posts. Ha! Ain't never gonna happen.

    I see by some of the comments that apparently this song has been covered by a great many singers and musicians. Boy, I must REALLY be living under a rock or in a cave because I don't think I've EVER heard this song before by ANYONE!

    Let's see... The moment Cohen begins "singing" I'm thinking "Tom Waits". Not exactly the same voice but pretty darn close.

    I like that "metallic" sound of the guitar in Buckley's version, so I'm voting for his cover. But I'll also add that I think for such a slow song, Buckley's version is way, way too long.

    Anyway... I'm casting a kind of halfhearted vote for Buckley while I somewhat second JJ's comment above.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  22. Misha ~ I hear ya.

    Robyn ~ Isn't it funny how the same song can be so different????

    Stephen ~ I can't believe that you've NEVER heard this song. Wow. Never thought I'd say that to you. Yeah, Arlee's fear is pretty funny now;) The instrumentation is better in Buckley's version in my opinion, so I can understand you basing your vote on that. Maybe my next song will get an enthusiastic vote! Isn't it wonderful that there is still time????

  23. Hi Robin,

    If I was bias I would pick Leonard Cohen's version. However, I think it's awful. The version by Jeff Buckley, which I'm very familiar with and I have the album it's from, is more my style. A tragic loss of a young talent was Jeff. In my humble opinion his also departed dad, Tim Buckley, was a much better singer than his son.

    Take care, Robin.


  24. I love both versions. I listened to the first one and it was soothing, comforting. Then Buckley's version played and I was invested! That's my favorite (Buckley).

  25. Gary ~ The Buckley version is amazing. Glad I found something you liked!

    rosey ~ I know. The Cohen version is great and then you hear the Buckley version...

  26. Sorry I'm so late, but I've been having some problems. Oh well, don't we all.

    Just for the record and not the vote since I'm late, this is one of those songs that I used to really like but now it's been so overdone I'm kind of sick of it. I was blown away the first time I heard Buckley's version, but the original Cohen is again my favorite.

    Tossing It Out


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