Hallelujah- 10 Performance Videos of Much-Loved Leonard Cohen Song

 

 

I was inspired to research the many wonderful performances of Leonard Cohen’s now classic song, Hallelujah, by ethel smith’s hub, Christmas Songs-They don't make them like they used to.  She included this song and a video of a Jeff Buckley performance.  I enjoyed the clip, which just reminded me of all the great versions I have seen and heard recently on TV. 

Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah has become a star in its own right.  The song has been featured on multiple TV shows, including The West Wing, House, The L Word, Cold Case, Lost, Nip/Tuck, Ugly Betty, Scrubs, Gray’s Anatomy, The OC, and One Tree Hill.  It has also been featured as the backdrop to shows highlighting real life drama, such as Third Watch and Without a Trace episodes revisiting the events of September 11, and Dateline NBC coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. 

 

I have chosen 10 performances of Hallelujah for this hub: 

Leonard Cohen

John Cale

Rufus Wainwright

Jeff Buckley

Bon Jovi

Jason Castro

kd lang

Il Divo

Imogen Heap

Kate Voegele

 

 

Leonard Cohen

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Leonard Cohen, Australia 2009Leonard Cohen, Australia 2009Leonard Cohen, Paris 2009
Leonard Cohen, Australia 2009
Leonard Cohen, Australia 2009 | Source
Leonard Cohen, Australia 2009
Leonard Cohen, Australia 2009 | Source
Leonard Cohen, Paris 2009
Leonard Cohen, Paris 2009 | Source



Although Cohen has written 80 verses to Hallelujah, this set of verses, the selection of which has been attributed to John Cale, is the most prevalent version of the many artists’ recordings of the song.


Well I 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

Chorus:

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well 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 her kitchen chair, she broke your throne
she cut your hair and from your lips she drew the halleujah

Chorus


Well baby I've been here before
I’ve seen this room and I've walked this floor
You know I used to live alone before I knew you
And 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

Chorus


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

Chorus


Maybe there's a God above
But 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

Chorus 3 times


Leonard Cohen Sings his Iconic Song

Leonard Cohen



One of the most successful singer-songwriters of the 1960s, Leonard Cohen was born in September 1934 in Montreal Canada. Although he performed music as a teen, he did not pursue music in earnest until after having published several books of poetry and two novels. Hallelujah was published in 1981, first recorded by Cohen in June of 1984, and released in December of the same year on his studio album, Various Positions. Cohen of course has performed the song many times, drawing from various combinations of the 80 verses he has written.



John Cale

John Cale (on right),The Miner's Theatre, Ammanford
John Cale (on right),The Miner's Theatre, Ammanford | Source

John Cale sings Hallelujah

John Cale



John Cale is a singer-songwriter, who was born in Wales in 1942. He and Lou Reed were the creative forces behind the Velvet Underground. On hearing Leonard Cohen perform Hallelujah live, Cale asked if Cohen would send him the lyrics. Expecting the verses Cohen sang that night, Cale was floored that Cohen sent all of the verses he had written. The song had not really gained much popularity to that point. Cale selected verses which he and most every performer has sung since, the version shown above. This is also the version heard in the movie, Shrek. His version was also used on Scrubs.


Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England, 2005
Rufus Wainwright, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England, 2005 | Source

Rufus Wainwright's Hallelujah

Rufus Wainwright



Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright was born July 1973 in Rhinebeck New York. He is the son of folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle. Due to conflicts with a competing record label, John Cale’s version of Hallelujah could not be used on the Shrek movie soundtrack. Wainwright was asked to record a version similar to Cale’s for the soundtrack. Wainwright's version was also used on The L Word.


Sin-é Bar

Sin-é Bar, New York City, now closed, where Jeff Buckley got his start
Sin-é Bar, New York City, now closed, where Jeff Buckley got his start | Source

Much Loved Version of Hallelujah by the late Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley


Singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley was born in November 1966. He was the son of songwriter Tim Buckley. His version of Hallelujah rose to the number one spot on iTunes Downloads after being performed by Jason Castro on American Idol in early 2008. Jeff Buckley’s performance of Hallelujah has been touted as the definitive and predominate version. He drowned 29 May 1997. He was in Memphis recording an album. He and a friend went to Mud Island Harbor on the Mississippi, when he decided to go swimming fully clothed. His body was found on June 4. Although he only released Grace before his death, he has a sizeable body of work, thanks to numerous posthumous releases.



Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi 2009
Jon Bon Jovi 2009 | Source

Bon Jovi

The iconic band Bon Jovi was formed by a Jersey Boy, Jon Bongiovi in 1983. Interestingly, Jon grew up hanging out at his uncle Tony’s New York recording studio, Power Station, where he worked as a janitor. He recorded some demo tapes with some respected musicians, including members of the E Street Band. One of Jon’s recordings, Runaway, became a local New Jersey hit. He formed the band Bon Jovi to support the song. The band was signed by Polygram/Mercury in 1983, and released their first album in 1984. Over the years the band invented and reinvented themselves to remain on the charts for over 25 years. Bon Jovi has performed Hallelujah live multiple times including their 2008 concert at Madison Square Gardens. Theirs is reportedly Cohen’s favorite version.


Jason Castro

Jason Castro 2009
Jason Castro 2009 | Source

Jason Castro


Jason Castro was born in March 1987 in Dallas Texas. He finished fourth in AmericanIdol’s 7th season (David Cook won). He stood out instantly with his long blondish dreadlocks. He was the first Idol contestant to play an instrument on stage, accompanying himself on his first several performances on guitar. He delivered multiple admirable performances, including Over the Rainbow, accompanying himself on ukulele, and his rendition of Hallelujah. Within a couple weeks of his performance of Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley’s version of the song hit number one on iTunes. Jason was signed by Atlantic in April of 2009.


KD Lang

kd lang 2006
kd lang 2006 | Source

KD Lang


kd lang was born November 1961 in Alberta Canada. She became enchanted by Patsy Cline’s work when she portrayed her in a college production. She formed a band and released an album in 1983, both inspired by Cline. She had garnered enough popularity to be signed by an American label in 1986. Her first major hit was a recording of Crying with Roy Orbison. She came out as a lesbian, which some thought would prompt the country music world to ignore her, but her 1987 release Ingénue, was not a country album. This lead to a respectable following and a Grammy. She recorded a song for Tony Bennett’s 2001 Duets project. She has performed Hallelujah in a number of events, including a charity concert with Elton John, and Leonard Cohen’s 2006 induction into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.


Il Divo

Il Divo 2012 London
Il Divo 2012 London | Source

Il Divo



The multi-national group Il Divo is the brain-child of Simon Cowell and was formed in January 2003, with their debut album released in April 2005. The members of the group are Spaniard Carlos Marin, baritone, Frenchman Sebastien Izambard, Urs Buhler, tenor from Switzerland, and David Miller, American tenor. They may arguably be one of the most widely appealing “cover bands” ever. Songs include Sinatra’s My Way, Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody, Toni Braxton’s Unbreak My Heart, and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.


Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap 2008
Imogen Heap 2008 | Source

Imogen Heap



British singer-songwriter Imogen Heap was born in December 1977 in Essex England. She signed with Almo Records in 1997. She and Guy Sigsworth, as the duo Frou Frou were signed by MCA/Universal in 2001. Her a capella version of Hallelujah was used in an episode of The O.C.

Ellipse
Ellipse

No recording was found of Hallelujah.

 

Kate Voegele

Kate Voegele in Florida 2008
Kate Voegele in Florida 2008 | Source

Kate Voegele


Singer-songwriter and actress Kate Voegele was born December 1986 in Bay Village Ohio. She performed with John Mayer and the Counting Crows. She signed with MySpace Records in 2006. She secured a recurring role on One Tree Hill, which featured her version of Hallelujah.


A Fine Mess
A Fine Mess

No recording of Hallelujah was found.

 

More by this Author


Thanks for reading! 9 comments

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

I adore Leonard Cohen. This is a great Hub and I shall link it to mine. When you see the words of Hallelujah you can see how beautiful they are.Thank-you


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks for the inspiration ethel! And the link. And your ongoing support. Happy Holidays!


I am DB Cooper profile image

I am DB Cooper 6 years ago from Whereabouts unknown at this time

Jeff Buckley's version is mind-blowing.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks for the visit DB. Buckley's version is a classic. I'd venture that many people think he wrote it. I like Cohen because of the historical perspective of him bein the songwriter, and he not really having success with the song until others popularized it. And I'd watch Bon Jovi with the sound off (Jon's eye candy). The k.d. lange performance at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies boosted my stats to 3 of 4 of my Hallelujah hubs.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

I have always loved this song, but never knew the Jeff Buckley version til yesterday when I wrote my first in a series of music hubs on the topic "grace." I have included the Chicago live version in my hub on Buckley and I cannot get the song out of my head now. I appreciate the version you have presented because it is clean, and the guitar is significant. In truth, I think I like Chicago Live better, because it is so raw!

Either way, this hub is a great tribute to a brilliant piece of music. Thank you for conceiving it.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Hey I've loved this song and didn't know it was by Leanard Cohen - one learns something new every day!

Thanks so much for this great Hub.

Love and peace

Tony


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Story and tony, thanks so much for your visit, and the nice comments on both this hub, and Story's hub. I have added a link above.


music messenger profile image

music messenger 6 years ago

Great hub. Enjoyed all the videos. I have music reviews on my hubs. Take a look.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks for dropping by music. I visited your Beatles hub. Welcome and best of luck on HP!

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