Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poet Leonard Cohen's Holy Hallelujah

The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey incisively considers the hundred-plus cover versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," wondering which musician does the tune the fine poetic justice it deserves:

"One version that is rarely praised is Cohen's own, hamstrung by its chintzy 80s production. But on stage at Glastonbury this year, as sunset purpled the sky, he wrenched every atom of emotion from a song which only he fully understood, and seemed to deliver a timely reminder . . ."

Hehehehe . . . Don't be shy . . . Just remember you know who as someone who outdrew ya :).


  1. I've never been able to stand anything other than Laughin' Len's version... the original and the best and I don't care if his own version sounds dated!

  2. Marry me! Have my children! Er, wait a sec . . . you're a (grrt) dame and I don't have any children to give ya, hehehehe . . .

    I am so right there with you, Barbara, truly, there's only one version that matters and I cannot hear it too many times. L. Lee Lowe's got a poll with YouTube effects a happenin' @ Lowebrow so you must go and vote on Leo's version, too. And, tell your army to do likewise . . . please, pretty please :) . . .

    I gotta ask, rhetorically, before the Lord of Song, what it is about Leo's version that does it for Irish-name dames? I dunno; but, when he sings that song, I get all wet with jouissance; and, I don't care what Jeff Buckley says about it being orgasmic; it ain't that simple — nothing with Leo ever is — why? 'Cause "there's a blaze of light in every word . . ."

  3. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Not ... taking ... the ... bait ...

  4. Alrighty . . . then . . .

    'Cause . . . you . . . just . . . did, Levi.

    Happy to see you, too :).

    Uploaded an essay that proves my point and wondered if you could write one similarly proving yours?

    All best seasonal greets, M'Sweets; don't be a <*ahem*> stranger; I actually think you're swell as hell!

  5. Anonymous2:12 PM

    Thanks, Judith! Well, writing an essay about Bob Dylan is hard work! Would you accept as an inferior substitute a post I wrote not long ago about Dylan's book?

    Also, going way way back (to 1993), here is a very extensive piece I once wrote about Dylan's "Renaldo and Clara" -- this is pretty much the first major thing I ever wrote online, back when I called myself by a different name.

    I know this doesn't fully answer your challenge, but I do think both of these (sloppy) pieces capture the quality I find most exciting in Bob Dylan's work that I don't see at all in Leonard Cohen's -- that wicked sense of humor, that barbed-wire irony directed right at his nemesis (his audience) for the crime of trying to minimize him by comprehending him.

  6. Wow, David Blue and Joanie and all of it. Levi, you're a better writer than your hero. Sorry. You're projecting your brilliance onto what I believe to be his cut-above mediocrity. You're amazing, though; and, that scene-by-scene, if I know BD (and, I did meet him, remember?) is something I bet he cherishes. Prolly has a copy of it. Sure of that, in fact. I think I can provide you with one of the pieces of the puzzle, unbidden and ignorable, natch: It was '75 or '76, long after I'd met him in '69, that I met a woman who'd "known" him, a woman who became a close friend and who, during those days you describe, those Hawk and Amram daze, she and he were lovers. To a point. He would never complete the act. Why? He didn't want to have to pay for their "could-have-been" offspring. Now, she was the first-cousin friend of Robbie Robertson whose mom, Dolly, lived in MPQ; and, although my friend was in love with him, she didn't know who he was, literally, I mean; she couldn't find a centre, there; there wasn't one, I guess, for her; and, considering his approach to lovemaking, I think this says something about what she meant. He loved her. He told her he did. He stole her, in fact, from another man, the man she really loved; and, it ended their relationship forever (because, he was, you know, Bob Dylan, and who would refuse him?). Moi. In '69. There is a pic of the two of us on deposit @ The Rare Book Room of The McLennan Library of McGill University. I told him to Fuck Off. And, my friend? She went on to meet another rockstar, SpringSprung, and *he* wrote a song with her name in it. Me? I fell in love with her cousin, David, and we had great sex in the penthouse suite where he lived @ Yonge & Bloor. I won't mention any last names; but, next time you hear Bruce singing about "strap,"velvet," and "engines," I suggest you listen closely and you'll hear the name of the dame I cannot name. Met her, years later; and, guess what she was doing for a living? She'd become a speech pathologist. Now, I have always wondered whether that was because BD gr-mumble-talked. (She never married; I told BD to FO because he'd stolen a friend's guitars.)

    There you go. I enjoyed your review; and say, Okay, the bridge or someplace later :). (Another clue for you.)

    We'll call it a draw; we both have our blind spots; and, the important thing is the passion to each we workers in words are grateful to bring.

  7. p.s. She was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever met, was she. Dark-haired, black-eyed, cream-complexioned; a lithesome living doll. She looks a little like the woman who's on the December issue of the Mexican Playboy (and, I can post a .jpg of it if you haven't seen it).

    But, I kid you not; and, yeah, that *is* LC in the diner. JSYK.

  8. Anonymous4:08 PM

    Wow, Judith, what a response! This has more clues than "John Wesley Harding", and I think we will have to plan to meet up in person someday (I've already met Frank, so it can happen) so you can fill me in on the rest of these mysteries.

    Obviously, your impressions of Bob Dylan are colored by your personal experiences with him, but isn't it true that this type of exposure has demystified many a great artist besides Bob? I bet it's one reason why he's such a recluse -- every time somebody gets to know him, he probably loses a fan.

    Myself, I never met him but, oddly enough, I was hired by his organization to build his website in 1997 (for "Modern Times") and again in 2001 (for "Love and Theft"). I worked with a friend of mine who handled the direct contact with the Dylan organization (I was basically the "tech guy") so I never got very close to the inner circle. The best I got (besides some nice paychecks) was good seats at his concerts, which I had to pay for, and backstage passes were out of the question. (Another interesting story involving my work on the "Love and Theft" website is here ... as many will remember, the release date for this album was September 11, 2001, so it's a hell of a story I tell here).

    Anyway, thanks for the compliments ... and that's interesting about Leonard and the diner. I think we have peacefully resolved this Cohen/Dylan dispute at this point, and I'm glad we did.

  9. That would be the highlight of my year, Levi, meeting you; you really are a classy guy; you're so classy, I bet you're a teacher :).

    No, serially, I am hosting a bloggadociotic get-to-get to coincide with the G-8 Summit in Huntsville (which is almost two hours south of me) in 2010. It's for book-blogger peeps; and, in Gawd's country; and, very cheap, too. I have space and there's a lake over there and a river the otherwhere and great pickerel fishing and . . . You must come. I bet you could bring a guitar, too; but, if not, I could lend you mine since, somehow, I'm pretty sure you can play. I know all the words to "Tangled Up In Blue," too! (I already said I loved that album; so, I'm not a BobSnob, totally.)

    You're more than welcome. I'm going to start serially planning it this spring and I hope you can make it. It's in a part of Ontario called the Near North and is beautiful country, just gorgeous. By the time the Summit's happening, the four-laning of Highway 11 will be complete, too; so, that will make it much safer for travelling.

    I'd love that; and, I do think you'd be a wonderful addition, an added attraction, a star here. I'd be impressed as hell, anyway.

    I've got to go look and see what you did with the 'sites, now; I had no idea you were a geek, too. Man, Frank is such a sweetheart; and, Mr. Discretion: He never said he'd met you! No wonder I love the guy unconditionally.

    But, you're a geek, a music lover with obvo discriminating taste (for the wrong singer-songwriter; but, I will grant that BD's pretty astonishing and gifted, too);but, you're also a brill writer.

    Yeah, though, I think you're more right than you know. Sometimes, I often wish I hadn't met some of the people I have met over my lifetime because they do tend to disappoint you. And, it's partially why I am a recluse myself; I can see that I would be rather disappointing in person, too. I mean, all I really wanna discuss is flashing, joists, two-by-sixes, drill bits, and the best R-value insulation. Borrrring.

    J/kiddin' . . . I do spend an inordinate amount of time discussing renovating, though (since I do my own, almost exclusively. I have a great workshop and fabulous power tools (including a great circular saw I got for Christmas from the EX when we were still together; but, he was afraid to even plug it in, hehe).

    I guess the only drawback is that I can't see Russia from my roof, LOL.

    Truly, it's going to happen, Levi; and, I am really thrilled you might be among the participants of the GR-8 Book Bloggers Summit (with free camping and fine conversation and a liquor store steps that-a-way, even though neither Frank nor I drink, I think it's important to add that detail, don't koow, just a guess, eh?)

    Think about joining us; no charges; just getting here on your own steam. And, truly, I, too, am very happy we put this little triviance behind us. I see a great future for us. Your fault!

  10. Again, what a response! We'll have to take this to email. About the summit, it's pretty difficult to pry me from New York City but we'll talk ...

  11. Frank's got nine, er, mine; no, I know you're not a bot, roffle, roffle. You're very good at webwork, Levi; I went and looked at the official 'site; but, I had already noticed the great bgs on your 'site and stuff.

    The piece on the WTC actually made me weep. I have no idea why. I thought of the people I knew who had been close to ground zero and how it had changed them so radically. One poet became very bitter, very defensive, very cruel, in fact; another never really got over it in a way that still shows in her attitude towards living. (I should talk, I'm agoraphobic; but, I have a good reason for this, too.)

    I'm amazed at how you told the story; and, I've read many; but, for the first time, I was there, I was actually aware of that dust. I don't have television and only saw what was on the 'net, then; but, I'm glad you've written this piece. I wonder how Ed feels about it. Hope he sees it someday, too. It's profoundly moving; and, it doesn't have any closure because, IMO, closure's a myth, a kind of invention, a kind of "process" invented to up-shut people who all grieve in their own way and on their own time. You never achieve closure, IMO. You simply learn to see the past doesn't exist except as a construct you hold in your mind, one that does fade in time. I feel richer for having read it; so, thank you, Levi.

    If you can tear yourself away from NYC (which is a gorgeous city), very cool. If not, you'll regret it forever . . . because?

    We'll be spinning nothing but BD CDs the whole weekend, non-stop on shuffle mode. We will play all the bootlegs you've never heard; we will have BD memorabilia and workshops and readings and exhibitions and ferris-wheels and . . . you get the idea.

    I wouldn't do this for anyone but you. So, boot it, LeviBoy!

  12. Thanks so much for the compliments on the writing, Judith ... that really means a lot.

    I am trying to email you, but your address is impossible to find (though I've found your website, nice stuff!!) Can you email me at when you get a chance?

  13. Hi Judith,

    Here's a good one:

    K.D. Lang sings Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah

    Bon Jovi does very well also, as do so many others. It is a mark of this great song, that it attracts great singers to bring forth great renditions.

    Thanks for bringing it up.