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Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

Album: GraceReleased: 1994Charted:
  • Arguably Buckley's most famous work, this was originally written and recorded by Leonard Cohen in 1984 on his album Various Positions. Cohen's rendition was released as a single in Spain and the Netherlands, but got little attention in the United States.

    Jeff Buckley heard the song in the early '90s and began performing it at his shows in and around New York City. He included it on his 1994 debut album Grace, but the song didn't gain widespread attention until after Buckley's death in 1997, which sparked renewed interest in his work. Many artists took note of "Hallelujah" and recorded their own versions of the song. Many of these covers found their way into movies and TV shows, popularizing the song across a wide audience.
  • The song is about a love that has soured and gone stale. Cohen used a lot of religious imagery, including references to some of the more notorious women in the bible. Here's some lyric analysis:

    "You saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you" - Bathsheba, who tempted the king to kill her husband so he could have her.

    "She tied you to her kitchen chair, she broke your throne and she cut your hair" - Delilah, who cut off Sampson's locks that held his superhuman strength.

    "But remember when I moved in you and the holy dove was moving too" - This could be a reference to the divine conception and Mary.

    The lines referring to the immaculate conception can also be interpreted as having a sexual connotation: "And every breath we drew was hallelujah."
  • Leonard Cohen explained: "Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means 'Glory to the Lord.' The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist. I say: All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value. It's a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Roderick - Qingdao, China
  • Regarding the line, "The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift," to which the chords played are: F - G - Am - F:

    It is clever the way that not only the chords line up in the lyrics and in the music, but also because the connotations themselves of "major" and "minor" add to the meaning of the song. The "fourth" is a major chord based on the fourth of the key Buckley is playing in. Likewise the fifth is the major chord based on the fifth tone of the key. The "Minor Fall" corresponds to Buckley playing a minor chord based on the sixth of the key. "Major Lift" corresponds to playing the major chord on the fourth again. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Gol - Gainesville, FL
  • The Bible makes reference to King David communing with the Lord and learning that certain types of music were more pleasing. The chords mentioned in the lyrics (that "David played and it pleased the lord) are often used in hymns. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Perth, Australia
  • Leonard Cohen recalls singing this song to Bob Dylan the morning after Dylan's concert in Paris on July 1, 1984. Cohen says they sat down at a café and traded lyrics, and that Dylan especially liked the last verse of the song (Cohen often tells the story of comparing songwriting technique with Dylan at this meetup: while "Hallelujah" took him years to write, Dylan told Cohen that he wrote "I and I" in 15 minutes).

    Dylan would later perform the song, singing it at two shows in 1988.
  • Cohen started work on this song five years prior to recording it on his 1984 Various Positions album, by which time he had 80 verses to choose from - he picked the best four.

    When Cohen performed the song in concert, he often included some of the other verses he wrote, which made their way into various renditions of the song. Among those verses:

    Baby I've been here before
    I know this room, I've walked this floor
    I used to live alone before I knew you
    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

    Maybe there's a God above
    But all I ever learned from love
    Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
    It's no complaint you hear tonight
    It's not some pilgrim who's seen the light
    It's a cold and it's a lonely Hallelujah

    Performances of the song frequently mix and match verses to fit the occasion. This verse is often omitted:

    Your faith was strong but you needed proof
    You saw her bathing on the roof
    Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew her
    She tied you to a kitchen chair
    She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
    And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
  • John Cale, who founded The Velvet Underground, recorded this song for the 1991 Leonard Cohen tribute album I'm Your Fan, and also included it on his 1992 solo album Fragments Of A Rainy Season. Jeff Buckley started covering the song after hearing Cale's version.

    Cale shaped his own interpretation after Cohen faxed him 15 pages of lyrics for the song, claiming that he "went through and just picked out the cheeky verses." Cale's version also appears in the 1996 movie Basquiat and on its soundtrack.
  • Buckley always closed his live shows with this song. Remarkably, his revved-up crowds became extremely silent. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kristy - La Porte City, IA
  • The melody has become a favorite in churches across America, where instrumental versions are often played by organists and bell choirs. Musically, it fits right in with traditional hymns, but the lyrics, although filled with religious imagery (especially the title), are rarely appropriate in this setting, since it is definitely not a worship song.

    You will sometimes hear versions of the song with the lyrics altered for church performance. One such rendition was recorded by The Osmonds in 2015. It begins:

    I heard about this baby boy
    Who comes to Earth to bring us joy
    And I just want to sing my song to ya

    Larry Holder, the composer of "More Than a Child" and other worship songs, gave us his thoughts on the subject. Said Holder: "While there is Biblical imagery, it is not a worship song, in the common understanding. The music by itself is very moving, so I can understand someone wanting to use it instrumentally, although to me, it would tend bring to mind the lyrics (in my case, I'd start thinking about Shrek) which would actually be a distraction from worship.

    It is interesting how someone came up with alternate lyrics for what the Osmonds sang, and that would definitely fit within a musical program at church at Christmas time in particular. (I have to presume permissions were obtained for such a derivative work to be written for such public use). I have heard that many of the hymns that Martin Luther penned actually used common melodies heard in the pubs of his day, so setting worship lyrics to secular melodies already well known has some logic to it.

    There has been a lot of change in worship style, just in the past decade or so. I am a bass player in a praise band, in a church that not so many years ago was pretty much just choir, piano, organ (we actually have two services now, one traditional, one contemporary, which is not uncommon). It is easy to see how something contemporary but not purely originally worship music can become adapted and adopted into a contemporary worship setting. We sometimes walk a fine line between leading true worship and merely providing entertainment."
  • Rufus Wainwright recorded this for the 2001 movie Shrek. Wainwright did not sing on the version used in the film (John Cale did), but his version is on the soundtrack. Wainwright recorded for Dreamworks, which also distributed the movie, and he had an album coming out a few weeks after Shrek was released.

    When the song appeared in Shrek, it was introduced to a very young audience, greatly expanding its appeal. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Andy - Indiana, PA
  • Rufus Wainwright is the gay father of Leonard Cohen's granddaughter. Don't worry, we'll explain. Rufus is the son of the famous recording artist Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle. Loudon is a bit younger than Leonard but the two are spiritual twins in the unique folk-poetry they're both known for. Kate McGarrigle, originally from Quebec, has herself crafted brilliant work both before and after meeting and marrying Loudon. Kate gave birth to Rufus in 1973 and died from cancer in 2010. Still, before and after Kate's death the Wainwright family was and is very close with Leonard Cohen and his daughter, Lorca. The Cohens and Wainwrights are both nothing short of Canadian folk music royalty (Loudon is from the States but his marriage to Kate made him an honorary Canuck).

    In 2011, Rufus had a child with Leonard's daughter and the little girl, Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, is being raised by the trio of Lorca, Rufus, and Rufus' lover John Weisbrodt. You can call it an unconventional setup, but one thing is certain: Viva most definitely has a long history of Canadian folk talent coursing through her veins.
  • A stark, a cappella version of this song by Imogen Heap plays during the season finale of the show The O.C. in 2006, accompanying a scene where the character Marissa dies.

    Other notable uses of this song on TV shows:

    Without A Trace on the first season finale episode.

    The Fox series House, where It was used on the second season premiere episode "Acceptance."

    The final episode of the third season of The West Wing. The president and staff were attending an opera when CJ Craig's (Press Secretary) secret service guard (and new love interest) was gunned down trying to stop a robbery.

    The final minutes of the 2005 Nicolas Cage movie Lord Of War.
  • This plays at the end of the movie The Edukators (Die fetten jahre sind vorbei), which got the Award Of The Public in Cannes, 2004. The main characters by then lost some faith in humanity, start an open relationship and continue to fulfill their revolutionary dreams. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Wageningen, Netherlands
  • Former Vibe and Spin editor Alan Light penned in 2012 a book titled, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of 'Hallelujah. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, he explained: "I attempt to explore the unprecedented path of this song - a protracted snowball effect that, over the course of several decades, has turned 'Hallelujah' into one of the most loved, most performed and most misunderstood compositions of all time."
  • In March 2008, Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice performed this song during Leonard Cohen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Afterwards he told Billboard magazine what made this track so special for him. Rice said: "There's an amazing connection between sex and spirituality, and it's something Leonard Cohen hints at in that song. It's almost like a Buddhist master giving you a hint, but not the whole story. You have to take that hint and go sit with it."
  • On March 4, 2008, American Idol competitor Jason Castro performed this song to rave reviews by the judges. Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell both said that they considered the Jeff Buckley version the best. As a result, Buckley's "Hallelujah" hit #1 on Billboard's Digital Downloads chart the next week. In the UK the renewed interest in this song created by Jason Castro resulted in the song returning to the UK singles chart at #74. It also reached the Top 20 of the World Singles chart. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Singer/songwriter Kate Voegele covered this in episode 517 of the TV show One Tree Hill ("Hate Is Safer Than Love"). Such was the positive response to her version that its digital sales gave the singer/songwriter her biggest hit - it reached #68 in the US and #53 in the UK.
  • Buckley referred to his sensuous rendition as a homage to "the hallelujah of the orgasm." He explained in a Dutch magazine OOR: "Whoever listens carefully to 'Hallelujah' will discover that it is a song about sex, about love, about life on earth. The hallelujah is not a homage to a worshipped person, idol or god, but the hallelujah of the orgasm. It's an ode to life and love." Buckley also admitted to having misgivings about his sensual version and he hoped that Cohen wouldn't get to hear his version.
  • In November 2008, this entered the UK Top 50 for the first time, thanks to the BBC's use of the track in a series of promotional trails for their iPlayer service.
  • The song is broadcast at 2 a.m. every Saturday morning by the Israeli Defense Force's radio channel.
  • This song was the debut single for Alexandra Burke, the 2008 winner of the UK X Factor show. Her version broke the record for Europe's fastest-selling download and topped the UK chart. Its success prompted renewed interest in Jeff Buckley's rendition and as a consequence his version of Leonard Cohen's spiritual epic reached #2 just behind Alexandra Burke. It thus became the first song ever to hold down the top two slots on the chart simultaneously since Tommy Steele and Guy Mitchell's versions of Singing The Blues were at #1 and #2 back in 1957.

    It also prompted renewed interest in Leonard Cohen's original version. As a result the Canadian singer-songwriter got a look in on some chart action, gaining his very first UK Top 40 hit at the age of 74.
  • Justin Timberlake performed this song on the charity telethon, Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, which was held on January 22, 2010. He was accompanied by his cast-mate from The Mickey Mouse Club, singer-songwriter Matt Morris, on guitar and vocals. Morris co-penned "(Another Song) All Over Again" on Timberlake's 2006 FutureSex/LoveSounds and his duet with Reba McEntire, "The Only Promise That Remains" on the Country singer's 2007 Reba: Duets LP. Morris also reunited with another of his mouseketeer co-stars contributing to five tracks from Christina Aguilera's Stripped album.

    Timberlake told MTV News that when he was asked to perform on the Hope for Haiti Now telethon, he knew exactly what song he was going to perform. "It's always been one of my favorite songs," Timberlake said. "And my artist Matt, we always kinda sing that song when we're messing around in the studio with ideas. The way that it's written can be interpreted many different ways," he added. "But the emotion that comes through - the chords, the melody and also what's being said in the song - it just kind of fit for the telethon."
  • Timberlake's version marked the first time this song entered the Top 40 of the US singles chart. The only previous time "Hallelujah" reached the Hot 100 was in May 2008 when Kate Voegele spent one week at #68 with her cover. The Voice contestant Matthew Schuler subsequently reached #40 in 2013 after performing it on the reality television singing competition.
  • The Canadian singer kd lang recorded a version of this song on her 2004 album Hymns of the 49th Parallel. She has several times been chosen to sing the tune at major events, including the 2005 Juno Awards, the 2006 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on the occasion of Cohen's induction into the Hall of Fame and as part of the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Bono recorded a spoken word, trip-hop version of this song in 1995 for the Leonard Cohen tribute album Tower Of Song. Bono later apologized for this, stating, "There's the holy and the broken hallelujah, and mine was definitely the broken one."
  • After the song was used in the 2009 movie The Watchmen, Leonard Cohen agreed that it needed a break. He told The Guardian: "I was just reading a review of a movie called Watchmen that uses it, and the reviewer said 'Can we please have a moratorium on Hallelujah in movies and television shows?' And I kind of feel the same way. I think it's a good song, but I think too many people sing it."
  • Tori Kelly sang this live with just an acoustic guitar on the 2016 Emmy Awards during the "In Memoriam" segment. This marked a turning point for the song, as playing it now seemed like a barefaced attempt to create an emotional moment. A few days later, the New York Times ran an article called "How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'."
  • Throughout the 2016 US presidential election, Kate McKinnon portrayed Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live in popular skits where she faced off against Alec Baldwin, who played her opponent, Donald Trump. McKinnon made her real-life admiration of Clinton clear, telling Rolling Stone, "I feel very close not only to the real Hillary, but also to this Hillary character we've created."

    When Trump won the election, most media outlets were stunned, especially those based in New York City, where anti-Trump sentiment was strong. On the first Saturday Night Live after the election, McKinnon opened the show by performing "Hallelujah" on the piano in character as Clinton. It was an earnest performance that also served as a tribute to Leonard Cohen, who died a few days earlier. After the song, McKinnon looked at the camera and said, "I'm not giving up, and neither should you," echoing sentiments of many Clinton supporters.
  • The song saw a sales spike following the death of Leonard Cohen in November 2016, sending his original version to #59 on the Hot 100, Cohen's debut Hot 100 appearance as an artist.
  • Saturday Night Live opened their show on May 20, 2017 with Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) performing it on piano, joined by Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump and cast members portraying Kellyanne Conway, Mike Pence, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Melania Trump. Various scandals were enveloping the White House at the time, including a stir over Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.

    The skit used the traditional first verse, followed by these:

    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 you
    I've seen your flag on the marble arch
    But love is not a victory march
    It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

    I did my best, it wasn't much
    I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
    I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
    And even though
    It all went wrong
    I'll stand before the Lord of Song
    With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
  • Chester Bennington and Brad Delson of Linkin Park performed this at Chris Cornell's funeral after delivering a eulogy. Two months later, Bennington committed suicide by hanging himself, which was how Cornell killed himself.
  • "Despacito" singer Luis Fonsi performed this with Tori Kelly at the Hand In Hand Telethon, which provided aid for the victims of hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
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Comments: 223

First all of the interpretations are really good. But didn’t Leonard share his real meaning with anyone?? An interview, a radio show, something? But my thinking is this. It took Leonard so long to write this song because every line has a double meaning; The Holy Bible AND love and lust and sexuality. It was written to make you think: one about God and His relationships, and the other about sexual relationships. One song, two different meanings, but yet all come together as one because God created the Universe and us and we are not perfect when it comes to life in general, starting with Adam and Eve, and continuing on from there with Bible references, and we are not perfect and we make mistakes. That’s why He sent his only Son. Anyway, my thoughts for what its worth. ;-).Jam - Chicago
On those lines, check out Madonna's "Live to Tell", also seems to be about selling her soul for musical success, and feeling tricked:
"I have a tale to tell, Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well, I was not ready for the fall, Too blind to see the writing on the wall. A man can tell a thousand lies, I've learned my lesson well. Hope I live to tell The secret I have learned, 'till then It will burn inside of me."
It left her waiting, hoping, for something to release her, maybe the second coming. Who knows.
Tj - Toronto
Really enjoyed your interpretation!
Especially the things like:"fuzzy!"
It shows the power of art being whatever someone can take from it(although it's unfortunate if someone get's something offensely the opposite of what the writer wanted ----ie Reagan using Springsteen's "Born in the USA" ).
I don't presently know about Cohen's negative feelings about the business, but you've made me curious.
I admire the thought you put into it, being from a time when the Beatle's (alledged) musical and visual hoax that: "Paul was dead" greatly engaged me as a 12 year old.
I thought the hints were ingenious.

Be Well
Joel Horwitz - New Jersey
I'm not religious, but as crazy as it sounds, I think it's about Cohen lamenting a deal with the devil. It just lines up well.

See the full lyrics of Hallelujah below. They align with an interpretation of making a deal with the devil for musical success. He says he sings hallelujah to the "lord of song", which I take as gratitude at least for the beautiful music that he could create.
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
In verse 6 he calls it a cold and broken Hallelujah:
And it's not a cry that you hear at night <-- his voice performing
It's not somebody who's seen the light <-- it's not about singing to God
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah <-- it's a lament

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord <-- good music is pleasing to God.
But you don't really care for music, do you? <-- not talking to God or to us. The other major character in this song is the devil/Satan.
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth <-- receiving guidance about what works in music
The minor fall, the major lift <-- a small price, a big return (his contract)
The baffled king composing "Hallelujah" <-- signing about himself here, pleased with his success but wailing at the cost

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof <-- Leonard
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you <-- temptation (biblical reference)
She tied you to a kitchen chair <-- alluring bondage
She broke your throne and she cut your hair <-- took his soul and freedom (biblical reference to Samson losing his strength and thus his freedom when they cut his hair)
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah <-- musical success, now his broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before <-- alone in torment
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I've seen your flag on the marble arch <-- (not sure?)
Love is not a victory march <-- Leonard did what he did for love of music, but he is very sad and broken because of it
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah <-- Leonard's state now (after selling his soul for musical success)

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know <-- you = satan
What's really going on below <-- something about hell or evil
But now you never show it to me, do you? <-- (fuzzy?)
And remember when I moved in you <-- when Leonard gave himself to satan
The holy dove was moving too <-- holy dove = holy spirit; move = inspire
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah <-- (fuzzy?) At some earlier point, he was very happy,,not mixed with cold broken grief.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain <-- probably taking God's name in vain
I don't even know the name <-- he didn't have any relationship with God before
But if I did, well really, what's it to you? <-- my choices are my choices
There's a blaze of light in every word <-- the glory is the art and it's impact, not the veracity (this song is a perfect example)
It doesn't matter which you heard <-- It doesn't matter to him if you hear this song as respect for God or a lament of hell,
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Verse 6
Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love <-- God
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you <-- he was outsmarted
And it's not a cry that you hear at night <-- his voice performing
It's not somebody who's seen the light <-- it's not about signing to God
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah <-- it's an anguished lament

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Verse 7
I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you <-- this song
And even though it all went wrong <-- his contract, his career
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah <-- hallelujah for the beautiful music and it's popularity
A broken Hallelujah
Tj - Toronto
I still don't understand why this song is considered so remarkable, at least in terms of the music vs. the lyrics. Aside from a few chord-changes it just doesn't do much for me.Jim - Usa
Bart - Ellicott City, Md has this pegged. It can be interpreted many ways. Just look at the comments! All of them are right. That said, here is what I've thought about every time I've heard the song: David was a favorite of God's, and despite so many failures, God continues to forgive him, even to the point of fulfilling his promise that the messiah would be from David's lineage. There aren't many people in the Bible who have the benefit of actually speaking to God. Adam and Eve, all of the prophets, David, Saul. I'm sure I'm missing some. The point I'm trying to make is that for all of us, believing requires faith. For them, faith was not a requirement - they spike to God directly. That being said, the song is very mournful and sad to me. starting from the beginning, "I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord." David wrote most of the psalms. Every one was a song to God.. The next line is written to all who have no faith, and don't believe in the bible, let alone David. keep in mind, this song is written by a person. One of us. Not a prophet, just a person. The next part is a song recipe. "It goes like this the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall the major lift" many songs use these chord progressions. "The baffled king composing Hallelujah" references David's doubt about himself, and the fact that he thinks he isn't living up to what he thinks God wants from him. It's very sad. This verse really gives a glimpse of how David is feeling, after writing song after song that falls short of expressing his feelings toward God, and his desire to worship, or please Him. The next verse is obviously about Delilah. David had an affair with her, and it started with him seeing her and coveting her. He had his best friend murdered so that he could have her. Despite knowing God, he still was willfully disobedient. His falling short of God's expectations peaks at this point, and for the rest of his life, he has to live with what he's done - despite God forgiving him. The lines about tying him to a kitchen chair.. are a little off base for Davids story. It makes sense that he's referencing Samson, until the line "she broke your throne." Samson was a judge, not a king. He didn't have a throne to break. Remember, though, this song was written by a person, and is not perfectly Biblical. However, there is a chance that the verse is split to make a point about women in the Bible. Eve didn't want to sin alone, so she asked Adam to join her. He's a dude, she's really cute, enough said. David fell to Delilah, Samson to a prostitute. We (men) are idiots when it comes to women. We will go out of our way if we think it will make a girl like us. The last verse is a picture of David and other men in the Bible who continue to sin. They've been here before, but seem to be powerless to stop it. That's why it's a broken hallelujah. We all fall short. There's an entire study of this, but, this comment is long enough. Anyways, that's my two cents worth...Wilbur Anderson - Old Town, Maine
I love the song, not matter what lyrics are used, the music is beautifully written. I was told by an expert on the bible that the word virgin at the time of Jesus meant a very young woman; that it did not mean she was a virgin by our definition. Since she was married that would make sense. Anyway it is another interpretation and there are certainly many when it comes to the bible.Jsterry - Texas
Pentatonix covered the song on their 2016 album "A Pentatonix Christmas" which was released a couple weeks before Leonard Cohen left us. Their version is quite stirring indeed.Chris - Somewhere
Taye Diggs sings a version on NCIS Season 13: Episode 18 -Scope.Jeannette - Michigan
have u checked the Fr. Ray Kelly's version? its an absolutely sensational must-see. here is the link; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYKwqj5QViQCalvin - Usa
I agree, Jeff's Buckley's version is the best, but unless I'm blind- no one has mentioned Alexandra Burke's rendition! If you haven't heard it, please do.Chris - Vancouver, Bc
The abundance of comments and interpretations offered on Hallelujah illustrate why it is one of the most meaningful songs of modern times. its powerful, yet wonderfully simple, lyrics and melody literally strike such a fundamental, almost visceral, chord within people that it compels many to offer up their own thoughts about its meaning and attendant emotions. Since they're personal, all of these interpretations are valid, and none should be denigrated or confronted as being wrong. This song readily evokes many different levels of assessment.
For instance, I'm surprised no one has offered up an interpretation of " It goes like this, The fourth, the fifth...The minor fall, the major lift..." as also referring to the predictable up and down steps you go through in love. Clever lyrical wordsmithing that has multiple meanings.

It's clear that, like many great works of art, literature or music, Hallelujah easily supports several levels of interpretation well beyond what even Cohen meant. Similar examples include Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and many works of Hemingway, Mozart and Rembrandt: the spirit that moves the artist to create great works so often is not fully understood nor appreciated by them until much later.
Cohen's lyrical intertwining of biblical and spiritual alliteration with the elation found in when the bond of spiritual, emotional and physical love are first formed (And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah...), but then sadly and predictably lost (I know this room, I've walked this floor, I used to live alone before I knew you...), is pure musical genius. You literally feel the cold and bitter emptiness of a man who feels he sacrificed his pride and humility for the bond of trust that comes with love (she tied you to a kitchen chair, she broke your throne, she cut your hair....) only to have it unravel because of not only tensions that inevitably develop later in a relationship ( I've seen your flag on the marble arch, Love is not a victory march...) but recognition of his own knowing contribution to the destruction of that love ( And all I ever learned from love was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you...). It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah, Leonard
I'm pretty sure that, when he wrote Hallelujah, Cohen would have agreed "Life's a bitch" and not "better to have loved and lost then to have not loved at all."
Indeed, Cohen might also agree that, when you've been around the relationship block several times, you can't help but feel like "been there, done that" when it all goes to s--t. Again.
Someone asked the question who movingly sang "Hallelujah" at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver?
Canadian K.D. Lang, naturellement. See it on youtube.com and you'll choke up all over again.
Bart - Ellicott City, Md
"Grace" is one of my favorite rock albums. Nothing else before or since sounds like it. Though Jeff Buckley didn't write this song, he made it his own when he recorded this version of it.Hugh - Phoenix, Az
I heard this song several times on different occassions, but never really cared for it (partly because of my poor English). But I remember how I felt when I heard Jeff Buckley's version for the first time. The moment his voice came from the radio, I started to listen carrefully and when the song ended, I felt really moved, I couldn't get that song out of my head. I immediatelly downloaded Jeff's version and couldn't stop listening to it. It was 5 years ago. I have heard many versions since then, but none of them ever touched me like that.Lia - Vienna, Austria
To be honest, I don´t know what is so great about this song. There are thousands of better songs. I find it monotonous no matter how well sung it is.
You need a whole choir and orchestra to make it a little more interesting.

If I were to pick the best version it would be that sung by Espen Lind, Askil Holm, Alejandro Fuentes, Kurt Nilsen.

The text is simly weird and I can´t really relate to it. I can´t imagine why anyone would choose this song for a wedding.
Yvonne - Winterbach, Chile
Perhaps a compromise is due- put Leonard Cohen / Jeff Buckley.Velveeta - Vars, On
I find it deeply disturbing to see Jeff Buckley's name attached to this song as he is the one who 'popularized it'. I frankly don't even know who he is or have heard his version. As a Canadian, Leonard Cohen is the one who popularized his own song clearly before anyone thought to cover it. And most Canadians think of KD Lang's version as the cover of note. Sorry Songfacts, but you are being a tad ethnocentric with this one. Perhaps a compromise is due- LeonarVelveeta - Vars, On
Didn't some one sing this song during the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver? It would certainly make sense to honor Leonard Cohen as a Canadian icon, but he did not perform. Doe anyone remember who did?Mike - West Richland, Wa
I've been haunted by this ever since I first heard it on The West Wing. I later heard it on Criminal Minds and am now looking for the version that was used on C.M. I'm pretty sure it was one of Jeff Buckley's versions. I've looked around on the 'net but none of the ones I've found seems to be the one I'm thinking of. Does any one know which version was used for the C.M. episode and where I can find it?

Frances - Berkeley, Ca
I have a hard time calling this Jeff's best work. There was always something just a little different about him. Something a little special. My husband has tapes from when he and his friend jammed with Jeff back when he was a wee lad...the 80's, believe it or not. Yes, he would have been quite young. My husband said that Jeff acted arrogant at times, but for good reason. My point, however, is that there are many, many songs that Jeff WROTE AND PERFORMED that blew this one out of the water. With love and blessings, RIP, Jeff...Mellissa and Terry.Mellissa - Laguna Beach, Ca
Actually, you are both wrong. The immaculate conception refers to the CONCEPTION of MARY, not Jesus. Many people get the two confused. It does not refer to the birth of either Jesus or Mary. Mary was CONCEIVED without sin.Katie - Annapolis, Md
Michael...you are wrong. Jesus is the immaculate conception because Mary was still a virgin when He was conceived. BOOMHolly - New York, Ny
Somebody commented up top mistakenly referring to the conception of Jesus as the "immaculate conception". That is not what is meant by the phrase. Immaculate conception refers to the birth of Mary, not the birth of Jesus.Michael - Las Cruces, Nm
I would second Devin, way below, in highly recommending John Cale's version from Fragments . . . Rainy Season. Sings it with such gravity and sadness, it's almost Gothic. But I've never heard a bad version of this incredible song. I hope nobody takes that as a challenge.Hedrek - Los Angeles, Ca
As to the meaning of this song,Cohen said himself that he wrote it about Bathsheba(her on the roof) n King David,and about Samson n Delilah(the cutting of his hair),and also about the Holy Mother Mary(him moving within her).When he wrote about him moving within her,he said it was about Jesus,then said "but it could also be about a woman's lover moving within her".So,he really DID set a double entendre into the lyrics.If you want to know all about this song,..check the Wikipedia on it.Its the most beautiful song I have ever heard,myself.While Buckley,Cale,and Bon Jovi,among others,have done this song,my absolute fave(besides Cohen's original version) is by the Canadian Tenors.They give this song heights that really made me choke up,and have goosebumps on my entire body.And,yes,it can take you to the place that mixes the sensual with the Biblical,and you cant find the line in between.If you let it.Shiloh - Phoenix, Az
My son has recently recorded this.... not profesionally, but at home on his pc..... no editing at all.... you want believe your ears. :-) youtube you will find him under keltonfrenchmusic
tell him what you think and subscribe for more surprises in the future. :-)
Monica - Molino, Fl
There is a new-ish, great instrumental version of Halleujah that has a wonderful arrangement. It is by the string trio "Time for Three".Pat - West Point, Ga
I have 3 favorite versions of this song.

1. Jason Castro- it was such a wonderful performance of it. I dont know what else to say. He was fantastic.

2. Alexandra Burke- such a beautiful voice. Im actually listening to it on repeat now. So much emotion.

3. Lee DeWyze- this is actually my favorite version. I saw him sing it live on the American Idols tour...and I was just floored. I cried. It was so intense and emotional and you can feel all the desperation of someone questioning God in his voice. And with all of those people there, just everyone singing along, it was just purely amazing.
Charlotte - Pittsburgh, Pa
I think this is a beautiful song and I'm a guy. It has been used on the medical comedy Scrubs and the medical drama House. It was used at the end of an episode (House) called Acceptence where a death row inmate was bieng taken to be executed.Joel - Princeton, Nj
I have lost some of my passion for music over the years; with Rap (not music - just "Dr. Seuss" with background noise) and Hip Hop or Pop music (anyone who can write poetry, sing,and owns a Casio) I rarely experience any good new music. I believe that if you cannot read/write music, or play an instrument you have no right to consider yourself a musician. Having said that, I heard Hallelujah at the end of a Criminal Minds episode and could not get the song out of my head. I instantly thought it was "Leonard Cohen-ish", and confirmed my suspicion on the internet which ultimately led me to this site.
If a song can elicit this much interest, interpretation and is performed and commemorated by such a wide variety of (real) musicians from a broad assemblage of musical genres, it truly is a work of art. It deserves all the acclamation.
Terry - Winnipeg, Mb
Wow! What else needs to be said? This is one of the most beautifully written, beautifully sung songs of all time....it gives me the chills every time I hear it....very touching. It is so deep, and has so much meaning....it's simply gorgeous. Ang the lyrics are fantastic, too. :)Erika - West Band, Wi
I absolutely love this song and have listened to just about every version out there. I like Buckley's version, but my favorite is by Kurt Nilson, Alejandro Fuentes, Askil Holm and Espin Lind. Check it out on YouTube. You won't be disappointed.Linda - Williamsburg, Va
A very talented artist, Alex Mabe out of Washington (the state) performs this song exceptional- almost intimidating for other artists to compare. Thank you.Jai - Niagara Falls, Ny
A very talented artist, Alex Mabe out of Washington (the state) performs this song exceptional- almost intimidating for other artists to compare. Thank you.Jai - Niagara Falls, Ny
I believe when Cohen wrote it it was more a commentary on the hypocrisy of sex and religion and how one woman's faith and the faith of those around her mentally messed up a good relationship and it was an angry song, which is probably why it wasn't the popular hit it was when Buckley sang it on Grace. His meaning and choice of verses has been the enduring one. It speaks to more people.

It speaks of love making you one with the almighty that you would do anything for it and when it was true there is no rhyme or reason, however the joy that comes from it is complete and if it ends after that joining it is something that can tear out your heart and leave you to doubt, in yourself, your god, those around you.

Though I believe Cohen wrote it for the wrong reasons he was a genius at poetry and irony, and I am forever grateful this world had a chance to discover it.
Andrea - San Diego, Ca
They played this song on Shrek and it is one of my personal favorites.Joseph - Brooklyn, Ny
Like all poetry, Cohen's lyrics are subject to interpretation (That is the beauty of well-crafted lyrics.) One quote that keeps getting mentioned is the "marble arch" reference. Most comments focus on the fact that there is a neighborhood in London called "Marble Arch". This is true; the neighborhood was named after the replica triumphal arch (made of marble) that looks like a miniature "Arch de Triumph" that is located on the edge of one of London's parks which border the neighborhood. It is possible that Cohen is referring to the neighborhood, but I believe he is referencing the fact that Roman generals, after winning a significant victory, were given a parade when they returned to Rome. If a general's victory was deemed very important, the Senate voted to award him a triumphal arch.
Triumphal arches were constructed of marble and decorated with gold leaf and the regimental flag of the winning general. The designs of the Arc de Triumph and the Marble Arch in London were both based on Roman triumphal arches that are still in existence.
Cohen may have been saying that his lover looked at winning his love (or, perhaps another's love) as the winning of a trophy. The triumphal arch was awarded at the end of a victorius campaign. A successful relationship does not have a definitive ending. both parties involved must continue to work and communicate. Cohen's lover has "won" his love, and is content to sit back and admire her victory and not continue to work on growing the relationship. Cohen could also mean that he is aware that his lover has had another conquest and is being unfaithful to him.
Nick - Baltimore, Md
The song has nothing to do with a literal woman, or sex. The woman on the roof bathing in the moonlight is the proof he sought for his faith; the splendor of the night sky (bathed in moonlight), which awed him, humbled him (bound him to a kitchen chair - interestingly where one commonly says grace), drove him to repentance (hair being shorn is Jewish repentance, read Job) crushed his ego (broke his throne) and left him praising god. Then he is again confronted by what it demands of him.. he reads The Law (10 commandments) and in irony cannot come to terms with using god's name in vain, claiming how would i even know it? The irony is not lost on another Jew, as Hallelujah is literally "Praise our God Yaweh". You will see that translated as "The Lord" because it is illegal to print or say other than in worship. Which is the topic of that verse, and the irony of the song itself. The holy hallelujah is seeing God's hand, the substance of the aforementioned proof, in all things, and the broken hallelujah is seeing only the profane, as witnessed by the comments right here. A real masterpiece Poem, by a poet who prides himself for immersion in the metaphor of religion.Mickey - Chandler, Az
The Canadian Tenors have given this song new life, new beauty and new meaning. It is like listening to a French horn instead of a trumpet or a cello instead of a violin....all give a special touch to the music but the horn and cello make it richer and fuller. Since I heard the Tenors sing it in concert, I can't get it out of my head.Joan - Tavares, Fl
It was almodt used in scruns, season 1, ep 4, 'my old lady', at the end. it was beautiful, and sadBen - Nottingham, United Kingdom
My favorite version of this song is by an artist local to the Wyoming/Idaho/Utah area. His name is Cary Judd. He sings it with a lot of passion, and he just looks like someone who has experienced the general meaning of this song, and that it touches him. It's like it was his song. Look him up on Youtube. He's a solid artist.Michelle Rigby - Orem, Ut
Justin Timberlake and Charlie Sexton established a new standard for this work and Live! Hope for Haiti Now 1/22/2010...would love to have them produce a studio rendition.Rick - Seattle, Wa
The Leonard Cohen version was used on Watchmen, and anyone who's seen it can see how it would be able to relate sensually to anything.Kevin - Carriere, Ms
It seems like evry artist has performed their own rendition of this song. For me, Rufus Wainwright then Buckley, then k d lang's version.Jim - Wellington, Oh
This song was played at my dear friend Michael's funeral. It was truly beautiful.Kayla - Monrovia, Ca
Probably the most beautiful song I have ever heard.Landry - Asheville, Nc
This is a wonderful version of "Hallelujah," but I must say that I prefer John Cale's version from his "Fragments of a Rainy Season Live" DVD. He sings it a tad slower than he normally would, and that makes it sounds much more beautiful. Anyone who wants to hear both of his versions should go to Playlist.com and type in "Fragments of a Rainy Season." The first listed should be the DVD's version, and the others are the normal version. Both are beautiful. Heck, it's a beutiful song in general...Devon - Reynoldsburg, Oh
I love Jeff Buckley's Version... and Kate Voegele's
Kate Voegele actually got me listening to the song properly.. she was the one that got me to download the Jeff Buckley version.
Rocio - Canberra , Australia
i'd like to know what 'i've seen your flag on the marble arch' is a reference too??
does any one know?
this song is beautiful.
i've never really thought about its meaning and its interesting to read about all the bible references it makes. sampson and delilah was one of my fave stories when i was a kid.
Jess - Cobram, Australia
No one can sing this song like Jeff Buckley.Theresa - Murfreesboro, Tn
I want to sing this great song in a choir but I cant find any good lyrics.
Meaning, I've got the "What to sing" but not the "How to sing".^^
Considering I'M german my english sucks but i think you know what I mean.^^
Would be great if u contact me.
My icq 487846132
Vyse - Hannover, Germany
One of my absolute favorite songs (Why else be reading these comments) I appreciate the comments on "the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall..." I have been trying to sort out what this meant musically. I am an avid fan of the Jeff Buckley version and can't seem to open my ears to any other voice doing it though credit must also go to Mr. Cohen, always a master lyricist. I love the biblical references especially to David, my favorite. I do wish the song hadn't become so commercial (no offence to Shrek lovers) but what are you gonna do?Stefanie - Philadelphia, Pa
Cohen's original is a brilliant and beautiful study in ambiguity, drawing a majestic and carefully considered arc around the subjects of spirituality and sexuality. There is no way he would have had a problem with Buckley's 'sensuous' rendition.

Myself, I favour Jeff's version. But full credit to the author, and to anybody else who's ever had a stab at bringing this to a wider audience.
Dazzle - London, United Kingdom
I don't know too much about religion... mainly because I haven't really given it a chance. I personally don't feel that I need to believe in something just to believe in something. I guess I just have to "see it to believe it". But the first time I heard this song - my brother asked me to listen to it... I listened to it and I fell in love with it. I think it is absolutely beautiful and the way Jeff Buckley sings it is so amazing. He has so much feeling and every time I hear it, I am moved. I am someone who listens to all types of music, from Garth Brooks to Lynard Skynard to Def Lepard to Whitney Houston to Frabk Sinatra. But to be completely honest, I'd have to say that this version of this song is my absolute favorite songs of all time.Whitney - Clearwater, Fl
I adore this song- almost moved me to tears a moment ago. In response to another post, Delilah cut Samson's hair while he was sleeping, and the Marble Arch is a white Carrara marble monument near Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park, at the western end of Oxford Street in London, England, near the tube station of the same name. (according to wiki). I think they have flags on it. I think my favorite version is the Rufus Wainwright one.Louise - Newcastle, --
I don't know why Buckly's version is so popular. Buckly called this song a "hallelujah to the orgasm", that's flat out blasphamy,Joe - Brooklyn, Ny
This is a nice thread, however....

Delilah did not cut samsons hair - read the bible! (or, probably preferable - don't, you can just take my word for it)

The words were originaly majar fall / minor lift not vice versa.

It is abviously a matter of opinion but it seems likely to me that the chart entry in November 2008 was down to Wainrights cover as apposed to the BBC adverts.
Charlie - London, United Kingdom
I am in Israel at the moment many miles from Ireland and I am feeling very homesick. I am playing Hallelujah over and over again as it makes me feel so warm. Jeff sings it with so much emotion that you can feel it and touch it. Everytime I see him sing it I want to hug him but sadly this is not possible. I love his version of the on so much that it hurts. God bless you Jeff...Vinny - Dublin, Ireland
This song is truley inspiring, and the way Jeff Buckley sang it just moves me.
It is very sad that such a young and talented artist has lost his life.
Jeff will never be forgotten
Casey - Hobart, Australia
Stunningly beautiful and haunting, the lyrics suit the performance perfectly.Alan - Gibsonburg, Oh
The band Anchors usually throws this into their set.Shelby Lynne - Vandalia, Mo
I, like many others, first heard this song in the movie Shrek. I remember loving it, but I was around the age of ten or something when the movie came out, so I thought nothing of it.

Recently, I was in my friend's room and suddenly it came on. But it wasn't a version that anyone has mentioned yet. It was sung by a college a'cappella group, and was picked for the Best of College A'Cappella in 2005, I believe. It is the best version. No instruments, just human vocalizations. The soloist is gorgeous and I can relate to it because I am a huge choir geek ;) So if anyone needs a new version, check out the BOCA version. You won't regret it.
Sarah - Burlington, Vt
jeff buckleys version of hallelujah is epic, and legendary. to me, the song in general, has more than one perspective. in one's eye it can be a religious theme, but to others it can be a love song. to me, its simply amazing.Diamond - Columbus, Ga
It should be apparent by now that Jeff Buckley did not write this song, despite SONGFACTS not taking his name off of this page and replace it with the author of this song, Leonard Cohen. Jeff's music is great, but credit should be given to the right person. (editor's note - we usually list songs by the artist who popularized them, and we hope it's clear that Cohen wrote the song)Daniel - London, - -
I first heard this song through Jeff's version... since then I've heard countless renditions... Jeff's and John Cale's (I first heard it off "I'm Your Fan," a Cohen tribute) are my favorites, kd Lang's is cool, but I least like Bon Jovi's, Rufus' and Bono's (it's on "Tower of Song," the inferior Cohen tribute)...Ron - Pittsburgh, Id
I fell in love with this song when I heard it first in 'Shrek', and once again when one of my best friends sang it for a concert. It's amazing, touching in so many ways, and means so many things to so many people. It doesn't do to argue about the meaning.Margaret - Missoula, Mt
Well, the best version i've heard so far was from this youtube guy and my friend named dleesoriginals. his approach was basically the same with Jeff Buckley's but his rendition was more heartfelt and he sung it so beautifully..one thing though bout this song is that no offense but it sounds like the Cascades'song " There must be a reason", especially on verses... and with the same chord progression.Kurt Thomas - Montebello, Ca
I think this song is about different ways to say hallelujah-different ways to affirm your belief in God. The pain and pleasures of live that make God seem so real.Michelle - Middleton, On
Love this song, don't know much about it except I heard it over and over in my head in the ICU and it still has a magical effect on me while I heal from ovarian cancer THANKSLeslie - Killingworth, Ct
Actually Bethsheba never tempted King David. He saw her bathing in her garden and decided to send her husband into the front lines of battle in order to get rid of him so that he could have her. He was punished by the Lord for this by the death of their first son.Shiyra - Monroe, Wa
I went to see Juliana Hatfield at Roseland in NYC on June 2, 1995. There were two opening acts; I had never heard of either of them at the time. The first was forgettable. The second was Jeff Buckley. I was blown away. I remember Hallelujah, Lilac Wine and others from Grace. I still get chills thinking of it.Joe - Cornwall, Ny
I personally LOVED it when Jason Castro sang it on American Idol. The best part was when he compleatly bombed the last note because it made him seem human.
I also love it that he closes his eyes when he sings-it makes you feel like he means what he sings. Andisn't that what music is supposed to do?
Mia - Appleton, Wi
So I went on a hunt to find the best versions of Hallelujah on YouTube or iTunes. I'd give the #1 vote to Jeff Buckley. However, you have to listen to Angelou's version. She essentially does the female counterpart to Jeff Buckley in guitar sound, and angelic voice. Angelou's version is slightly shorter and just a notch less dramatic than Jeff Buckley's but the emphasis on the highs and extensions in the final hallelujahs are identical in intent. It appears Angelou's version followed Jeff Buckley's version so it probably was an intent to reproduce Jeff Buckley in female form. Angelou is really singer Holly Lerski and guitarist Jo Baker, so that lets you know how impressive Jeff Buckley was in that he was both the guitarist and singer. So anyway I put Angelou's version #2 next to Jeff Buckley's version just because it's so similar to his version.Wilson - Claymont, De
When I first heard this song I interpreted the lyrics as somewhat political. when it talks about the flags it sounds kinda like it's talkin' about national flags, then there is a part that I interpreted as feeling as though he/she/it was being honest then the lyrics make it sound like the realization of lies being told.Chuck - Kewaskum, Wi
Perhaps I missed another, earlier reference, but the first time I heard this song was at the end of the film "Basquiat", about the artist Jean Michel Basquiat...I think it was the John Cale version.Fred - Brooklyn, Ny
I LOVED Jason Castro's version;just beautiful!Lyrics are awesome.Sue Be - Parkville, Md
i want this song to play at my funeral, as they lower my casket down. hopefully, many, many years from now!Carrie - Ansonia, Ct
I first heard this song after 9/11. On a newscast, they played this song while showing images of thousands of candles, of the walls lined with thousands of pictures of missing loved ones. ever since,this songs reminds me of all the loss from that day.Carrie - Ansonia, Ct
A Cold Case episode played this song as covered by John Cale. The episode was the one were the guy is wrongfully put to death for the rape and murder of a 16 year old girl. I really like the John Cale version, too.Don - B G, Ky
I had heard this song once or twice before in passing, and loved it. However, I was blown away when I heard, of all people, John Bon Jovi sing it in a recent acoustic concert that was televised. He explained before singing it that he fell in love with it the first time he heard it sung in a club somewhere (I would love to see that concert again - Bon Jovi stated who the artist was who moved him the first time he heard it, but I can't remember- I really wonder now if it was Jeff Buckley). John Bon Jovi sang this song with so much passion that I began to learn about Leonard Cohen (he is quite an interesting man), and fortunately foung Jeff Buckley, Songfacts and all of you.
This song touches me at many levels. Ultimately, I believe that Cohen, as most other artists, would look at each one of us when asked of its meaning, and say, "What does it mean to you?" For me personally, it has tremendous meaning. I have recently gone through a very painful time where I almost lost my wife (and daughter) through a divorce (mostly from selfishness on my part), and the pain that it caused not only made me look at my "broken Hallelujah" at home, but I also questioned (and still do at times) my relationship with God. This song speaks to all of those things: the pain, doubt and confusion that I felt toward her, myself and God.
"Maybe there is a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at somebody who outdrew ya
And it's not a cry that you can hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah". Been there.
Fortunately, we have agreed to open our hearts up again to one another with God as our center. However, should it not work out, I only hope I can say,
"....And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah". Does anyone know why this last verse is not in Jeff Buckley's version?
Denny - Port Jervis, Ny
This song is one of the best I've ever heard, and unique in that there is probably nothing one could do to it to improve it.
It seems to me to be a reflection on the way that you can love someone enough to do/let them do horrible things, things that are never worth it, just to be with them for a while. It expresses the possible cold, dark side of love, but also sings of how it can still be great.
Hallelujah for this song.
Tyler - Everywhere, Ut
What do you think the lyrics "I've see your flag on the marble arch" is in reference to? any thoughts?Ro - Nyc, Ny
I first heard this song on Shrek. I was only, what, ten years old; I was still into Britney Spears. (We are not born with taste.) Then six years later, I saw Shrek on TV (TBS to be specific) and I realized I had forgotten the song was in that movie. I fell in love with it all over again (the song, not the movie, although Shrek is truly a feat of animation magnificence.) I've only heard the movie version and the Rufus Wainwright version, and I didn't know it was composed by Leonard Cohen until I watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on VH1 Classic. I need to hear his version and Jeff Buckley's now. (Sorry, not much of a k.d. lang fan.)Marissa - Stow, Oh
I like the Jeff Buckley version the best. The lyrics are amazing no matter who sings it, but Jeff's voice really reaches all the way in and grabs at you.Mandi - Fort Lauderdale, Fl
I'm an old fart, married with three kids, and I've never been taken with any artist the way I was with Buckley via his "Grace" lp. My wife thought I went gay for awhile! I knew nothing of the man the first six months I owned the c.d. and was blown away when I finally googled him to discover we lost him. Since then I've purchased about everything he's ever recorded, purchased his dad Tim's 2 disc greatest hits, went to perhaps the best concert of my life at the Hollywood Key Club, a Jeff Buckley tribute concert in 2007, BUT IF THERE'S ONE THING I urge any jeff buckley fan to do it would be to read the book "Dream Brothers".
The full story about Tim and Jeff Buckley is an absolute must read.
Rich - El Segundo, Ca
I love this song, i hate that it has to be about falling, but everyone doubts sometimes and theres nothing wrong with it, God Bless.Robert - Pinson, Al
i love this song since john cale....but when i heard the version of jeff buckley i cried alot..really... he drew the listeners out of the blue.. the lyrics became more powerfull and jeff's voice is like an angel...damn how i wish he read this post msgs of his fans........we will miss you jeff....you are the fourth the fifth the minor fall and the major lift.
-James manila,phil
James - Manila, Philippines
I like Rufus Wainwright's version a lot better than the original, but that's just me. It's softer and more beautiful than Jeff's, his voice is too...raspy. It just kind of sucks. Rufus can sing it with more passion.Samantha - Dover-foxcroft, Me
Wow, I consider myself an open minded music lover but I never heard the Jeff Buckley Version...I am totally floored...the music and lyrics are quite hauntingAnthony - Avoca, Pa
My favorite version is definitely Jeff Buckley's. FYI, Jeff drowned in the Wolf River Harbor, which technically is the Mississippi River.Mizsyd - Memphis, Tn
I prefer k.d. lang's version, myself.Kate - Burnaby, Canada
my mother wanted the lyrics to this song so, being the good daughter i am, i have found them and upon comparing my interpretation to the facts, i like mine better: "...and remember when I moved in you/the holy 'tao' was moving too/and every breath we drew..." i swear that's what jeff said. "tao" (pronounced dow) from taoism means the way. to me, it says god moves through us in ways only lovers can imagine sometimes.Healy - Concord, Nc
This song brilliant because of the ways it in which everybody has a different way of viewing it and its meaning. Cohen's version is clearly aimed more at religion and spirituality. But I feel Jeff may have covered this song due to person relationship feelings. To me, if u think of "hallelujah" as "i love you" it goes through many stages of maybe a person relationship, which of course Jeff Buckley is most passionate about in his music.
"u saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty in the moonlight over threw u" is the first meeting of the 2 people involved..
"she broke ur thrown and cut ur hair, and from ur lips she drew a hallelujah" if u use the idea of the Sampson and his hair giving him strength, then this line is for lack of a better word 'breaking' down who u are and bringing out the true person, not needing to always show strength but somehow show a vulnerability about urself. and eventually saying "i love you"...
"love is not a victory march, its a cold and its a broken hallelujah" refers to problems within a relationship that could eventually end it, when "i love you" doesnt mean the same thing anymore..
there are many ways to look at the song but i think its clear, by wat the rest of u have written, that u can feel the compassion in Jeff's voice and think that maybe it isnt about happiness but about the pain of love and relationships... it tends to help me through
Marc - Adelaide, Australia
There are songs in your life, especially music can move your soul, that stop you in your tracks. This song is one of them. As a Christian, the biblical references bring comfort. As a recently divorced man, the lyrics haunt me. I road to a job interview and listened to Jeff's Version over and over and over. A.D.D. has its good sides too. Whether you are a person of faith or not ... signing this song is a moving way to cleanse your soul. That's how I felt as my marriage ended. I did all I could and it did not turn out so good, but I stand before the Lord of song ... shouting Hallelujah.Todd - Fayetteville, Nc
This song is so wonderful! I dont care who is singing it.....it just gets inside you and brings tears to your eyes. It has so much meaning....all packed into a gorgeous, touching song! Whoa......This is definatly #1 in my mind!L.m. - Castalia, Nc
Personally, although I love Jeff Buckley's version, I STILL PREFER LEONARD COHEN's version. I have say that it's probably because Leonard Cohen just has the low, older, wiser sounding voice. He's an older man with more wisdom.Happy - In The Boonies, In
I love the Jeff Buckley version. The guitar is amazing and the haunting vocals are really quite moving.Jeremy - Scottsdale, Az
I gotta agree with the statement of wainwright's version. I like it the most but this one's got better backtrack and it sounds cool but idk bout u guys but when wainwright sings it you can feela since of saddness in his voiceKris - Wichita, Ks
sorry, i didnt mean to post so much, it just froze on me , so i pushed the button more than once.Kyean - St. Louis Park, Mn
Some many TV shows have used this song : Holby City, House, Falcon Beach, The L Word, The O.C. (3 separate episodes), Scrubs (in 2001), The West Wing, Without a Trace, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Crossing Jordan. I think the Scrubs use of it predates the others.
- mia, melbourne, Australia

yeah, scrubs use was in 2002, the others were past that, scrubs tends to have songs they play that others shows take to use *COUGH* *GREYS ANATOMY*
Kyean - St. Louis Park, Mn
Okay, here's the sappiest friggin story you'll ever hear, but, ah, what're ya' gonna do? I was sitting outside one day under a tree, waiting for a ride home from school. It was before I got my car and everything, and I was just reading a book. And then I here the most angelic voice, I've ever heard, singing this song to me. And I turned around and my best friend was walking toward me. She said, "I'm serenading you." That was the minute I fell in love with her. I have this song on my iPod, and whenever I miss her, I play it, and boom. Jeff Buckley's vocals are amazing, and, no one has mentioned the guitar solo in the middle, which gives me chills.Rob - Detroit , Mi
I heard KD Lang sing this at Carnegie hall a few years back - an amazing performance that brought down the house. Nobody else comes close.Jim - Nyc, Ny
Rocks your soul,pure talent.Martin Saye - Frome, England
What a song,what a voice,what moods and atmosphere in this great song,is there any better vocal performance of this song?? perhaps Rufus version,altho i love rufus and his version ,for me it doesnt quite have the magic of Buckleys,altho a friend of mine said i should check out K.D.Langs version,anyone heard that one??What a shame he didnt go on to fulfill his enormous potential,i think he would of set the bench mark others would try to follow.Steve - London, England
Sorry, don't know how I ended up quaduple posting the following. I'd remove them if I could.Phil - Vancouver, Canada
As a songwriter, I think Cohen was playing around with lyrics and melody, and like many of us do, he used placeholders ("it goes like this, the fourth the fifth" etc)meant to be re-written later, but somewhere along the line he decided to leave them in - along with the "the baffled king" reference to himself as he was "composing hallelujah".
Also, "baby I've been here before" verse is about the unnecessary win/lose situation that the developed when the relationship soured;
"there was a time..." verse is about the beginning of the relationship - great love and great sex;
"maybe there's a God above" verse is about how he was drawn into hurting someone he loved. And a verse which isn't always used (but the one that Dylan liked) "I did my best, but it wasn't much..." mean his efforts in the relationship were honest, but not enough to save it, and certainly not appreciated. That's what I think.
Phil - Vancouver, Canada
In my opinion i think rufus wainwrights version is the most touching, simplisity makes the song so beautiful to me. I have heard all the versions of this song floating around and wainwrights one just touches me more than any of them. I think Cohen should recieve up most praise for producing a work of art almost with this song. However, Cohen's words with wainwrights voice and soul behind, equals - arguably the most beautiful song of all time.Kelly - Liverpool, England
This song is about the chronic disappointment of others as you walk through life. People are lazy and selfish. The lyrics provide examples of this. Whatever allegory you choose the common denominator is lazy and selfish. Ironically, it is from this disappointment that one is reminded of the need to remain genuine and humble through life. Peter, Berkeley, CAPeter - Berkeley, Ca
if any1 wants da music 4 dis den try 2 contact me n u will get demBloo - Mancheter, England
I thought that I remembered hearing it after 9/11 when emotional, reverent videos were being shown for many days. It always made me cry but I would listen to the whole song every time it came on and watch the firemen, policemen, and scenes that were surreal. It was the perfect song for the tragedy of 9/11.Tammy - Denver, Co
i first heard this song on the "Criminal Minds" episode with the crazy new york vigilanteJimmy - New York, Ny
I fell in love with this song after hearing it on the L Word. It brought me to tears and still does.Samz - Baltimore , Md
Had this song stuck in my mind after hearing it on the "Choir of Hard Knocks" here in Oz and also recognising it from background music I've heard on House and Cold Case. I've also heard Damien Leith's version. It haunted me so I had to look up the lyrics and then listen to every version I could find on YouTube. Love Leonard Cohen's "spoken" style but so far my favourite is kd lang's, for being filled with feeling and soul and really "owning" the song, as someone else noted really makes it.Ann - Melbourne, Australia
This song was re sung by Rufus Wainwright and used in the movie ShrekMatthew - Wilson, Nc
"Hallelujah", which has music as a secondary theme, begins by evoking the biblical king David composing a song that "pleased the Lord." "Hallelujah" is often used in television shows and movies during sad scenes involving death or heartbreak. It has been featured in some movies too like "Shrek". In a fundamental sense, at least partly intended by Cohen, it is a song about the contemporary condition of song. It sounds like a pop song, but it isn't. It is a tuneful but ironic mask worn to conceal bitter atonal failure.Senorita - Canada, Canada
It was on the season finale of season 13 i think of E.R and on shrek 1Shasta - Elizabeth, Wv
Ever since I was 6 years old, I spent part/all of the summer at a YMCA overnight camp. And every night, the counselors would turn off all of the lights and sing us to sleep to wonderful, classic songs: "Jet Plane", "Today (While the Blossom Still Clings to the Vine)", "Amazing Grace", "One Tin Soldier", "Danny's Song", and "Hallelujah", which was always my favorite. Finally, when I was 15, I began working there. And it was my turn to sing. Jeff Buckley's version is my favorite, although one version that John Cale does is incredible. But there is no studio recording of this song that sounds as good to me as a group of best friends' voices singing together a capella under the stars, as campers contentedly drift off to sleep. That's the way I'll forever hear it in my mind.Kimi - Florence, Ky
I fell in love with this song after hearing it on ER a couple times over the past year and then I heard it on scrubs this weekend. I spent the entire day Saturday trying to find the song. I found the Lucky Jim version and have been listening to it ever since. Totally worth the $2 I paid V-Cast for it. I was so confused yet moved by the lyrics but came to the conclusion that it has to be spiritual in some way and I believe it describes the struggle between good and evil. To me the lyrics speak to the Devil directly. BUT this website opened me up to many more ideas and interpreations. Exactly what I was looking for. I don't think any other song will top this one. It's beautful.Mikayla - Mt. Pleasant, Ia
we played this for my nephew's funeral exit which was truly a brocken Hallelujah, he was only 15 and died from unknown cause...
thank you to Jeff Buckley for the 1994 remake its mcuh better than the other singers
Candy - Sydney Australia, Australia
["I love this song eventhough i'm young and don't understand the interpretations at the top and i'm not really religious. I think this song just makes you think and ponder but not with your mind but with your heart. It affects old and young in the same way and this is rarely achieved by anything. Everyone I've seen listen to this song either cried or just stood there in silence listening and some times even that is enough to show the impact of something. In these days there are many songs you hear in the radio, tv and in other places which you might like, make you dance, make you cry or angry. But i don't know one that makes you really listen. Not a listen where you hear the song and start talking or where you listen and your thoughts wonder off. A listen where you just hear the song sounding in your mind."]

Your SO right! the first time I ever heard this song was when I used to watch the O.C. and it was in an ending scene, I fell in love with this song as soon as I heard it. Everytime I listen to this song it strikes a chord in my heart. its so overpowering and emotional. I could say much more about it. its just incredible. I love music...SO much.
Cary - Roanoke, Va
I love this song eventhough i'm young and don't understand the interpretations at the top and i'm not really religious. I think this song just makes you think and ponder but not with your mind but with your heart. It affects old and young in the same way and this is rarely achieved by anything. Everyone I've seen listen to this song either cried or just stood there in silence listening and some times even that is enough to show the impact of something. In these days there are many songs you hear in the radio, tv and in other places which you might like, make you dance, make you cry or angry. But i don't know one that makes you really listen. Not a listen where you hear the song and start talking or where you listen and your thoughts wonder off. A listen where you just hear the song sounding in your mind.Tab - Sao Paulo, Brazil
This is my all time favorite song. I have to listen to it at least once a week. I make everyone I know listen to it if they are not familar with it. This song is so powerful and haunting. I want it played at my funeral.Stacy - Evansville, In
incidentally, if you are looking for a Christian message check out Lincon Brewster's "Another Hallelujah" its the same music with modified lyricsSarah - Spokane, Wa
The reason that I love this song so much is that it isn't written from a Christian's perspective. Trust me, as a Christian hearing the word "hallelujah" repeatedly in a song, especially one as deeply meaningful as this one, makes me want to draw out the Christian message too...it just isn't there. I think the stronger message is one of lost faith and disillusionment, whether it is of God, a woman, life, love or a bit of everything. I don't think Leonard Cohen necessarily intended to inspire people to a greater faith in God through this song: "And it's not a cry that you can hear at night--It's not somebody who's seen the light--It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah"...its more of a lament of his own lack of faith.

Now this is total speculation, but I like to think that he was writing this song for all of us who aspire to pure spirituality, holiness and righteousness but are too weak to manage it. He certainly draws on some powerful examples of weakness (oxymoron?) in the bible. It makes the message even stronger because King David was called 'a man after God's own heart' yet he screwed up in a HUGE way with Bathsheba, he was an adulterer and a murderer. The reality is that 99% of us aren't saints in the stereotypical sense, and at the end of the day everyone says (or should say): "I did my best, it wasn't much?" but despite that, we can still sing Hallelujah. Ironically this is the perfect foundation for a truly intimate relationship with God. God wants to meet with humble and broken people: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" 2 Cor 4:7.

Really, I think this is the message that too many Christians miss- grace. There is an entire world of Leonard Cohens out there who have lost their faith, are weak and broken and have no hope of recovering but are searching desperately for something to believe in, something worthy of worship. More of us need to realize that regardless of the image we maintain, this is where we are. I think Jesus would have loved hanging out with him!
Sarah - Spokane, Wa
I loved this so much I searched for and found 9 versions that I have put together on a CD:

Leonard Cohen
kd laing
Rufus Wainwright
Arooj Aftab
Kathryn Williams
John Cale
Bob Dylan
Jeff Buckley

I like all of them other than the Bono version.

Ian - Adelaide, Australia
Some many TV shows have used this song : Holby City, House, Falcon Beach, The L Word, The O.C. (3 separate episodes), Scrubs (in 2001), The West Wing, Without a Trace, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, The Shield, Nip/Tuck, Crossing Jordan. I think the Scrubs use of it predates the others.Mia - Melbourne, Australia
thanks to Chris and to Arooj Aftab - that was a nice version. well playedJoe - Dublin
I heard this on a house episode
Jacob - Memphis, Tn
I heard this on house...wow its sadJacob - Memphis, Tn
One word: Eargasm! THe first time i heard this song i was dumb-founded, so beautiful i cried, i was so happy to hear all the religous contexts; so fascinating. I am choreographing a ballett dance to this song. It is absolutely amazing.Lily Hallett - Bow, Nh
This is my new favorite song I cannot stop listening to it. It just makes me so sad but I can't get enough of it. This song is the most amazing song of my life right now and i love finding new songs like this that i fall in love with and always enjoy listening too. Thankfully I am Oc-er or i would not have looked this song up.<3Alicia - Utica, Ny
i've watched k.d. lang preform this song at the canadian songwriters hall of fame in a tribute to leonard cohen. her rendition was beyond words!! the emotion she conveyed, her voice so delightful. it was simply beautiful. i nearly wept watching it! she performed barefoot and this added certain element to the performance.Sandi - Kingston, Canada
i really really love this song. and for the record, the lyrics say 'remember when i moved in you, and the holy dove was moving too'. i'm not too sure whether the song's more about love or religion though.Oona - Seattle, Wa
The lyric about "the baffled king" has a double meaning; King David was "the battle king".

Also, I have read (I think on wikipedia) that since in ancient times bodies and news often didn't make it back from war, and someone could be away at war for a long time, or be alive but never make it home, a woman with a husband at war could be legally considered "not married" and thus sexual involvement would not be considered adultery.

There is an amazing new cover of the song done by an A Cappella group called "Take Note" from Clemson University. It's on the "Best of College A Cappella 2006" cd put out by Varsity Vocals (varsityvocals.com). I think the song is too powerful for any one version to be "best"; there are too many things in it to bring them all out in any one performance. This version brings out things I haven't heard in others, so I treasure it along with the other versions I own.
Akb4 - Orange, Nj
I just heard the song on the tv show Cold Case and it was beautiful! it was played at the funeral of the dead row prisoner.Grace - Charleston, Wv
Please allow me to make a correction on the comment concerning Bathsheba. This is such a beautiful song and I hate to have the biblical contexts misunderstood. As a Biblical Scholar and Pastor I feel compelled to defend Bathsheba from the above incorrect comments. David fell into temptation and misused his power and authority as King. He was guilty of sexual misconduct/harassment. Bathsheba would have been given no choice but to answer the plea of the King in such a patriarchal society. Bathsheba did not entice David into killing her husband. David fell into temptation and choose violence to protect his reputation. The beauty of David's story is that even in his brokenness and sinfulness, God forgives. David 's hallelujahs are broken but God/s grace and forgivenss are not. Let us not ignore David's wrongdoing by blaming it on Bathsheba. Women get enough of that in the Bible already, we don't need to add incorrect interpretation to the already patriarchal literature. Beautiful song of the relationship between humanity and divinity, love and pain, sin and grace.Debbie Roath - Marshall, Mo
I desperately want to learn this song on the piano. I don't know how to read sheet music, but I found this site (http://www.8notes.com/school/riffs/piano/rufus_wainwright_shrek_hallelujah.asp). Can someone (who knows how to play this song) tell me if this site is accurate in teaching me to play it? They show the chords that are used in the song, but I don't know how to put that to use as I am a very, very mild player so far. I'm just starting to learn a few things here and there. Thanks :)Cara - Nyc, Ny
Jeff Buckley drowned in the WOLF River not the Mississippi, although they are both in Memphis, TN.Mel - Rochester, England
I have heard an amazing cover by an Aussie singer, Clair Bowditch...it's my favourite cover. It was done for a radio segment on Triple J called 'Like a Version' where bands or singers come into the studio and do a live cover of any song they want. This one makes me want to smile and cry...Rosie - Brisbane, Australia
Leonard Cohen's brilliance shines brightest with Hallelujah. Virtually every cover I've heard has something for someone to love. My favorite version is by Allison Crowe. Her interpretation is powerful and sensitive in profound measure.Atz - Duluth, Mn
I think the point that everyone seems to be missin' here is that to do this song - you have to own it. Cohen wrote it changing it as his life dictated. I'm not really sure if its singing "Hallelujah" as a real meaning of praise or simply singing out of our highs & lows that makes it - but I have NEVER heard anyone sing this song *and mean it* and it sucked as a result!

Buckley 'owned' it on "Grace" - that's what grabs hold of your soul! -- matt:
Matt - Brisbane, Australia
answer for Damian: Leonard Cohen wrote around 15 verses of the song and recorded 2 different versions, not to mention the number of versions played live. most covers mix and match from the two recorded versionsAriel - Woodbridge, Ct
This song means so much to me.I lost a great friend then six months later I lost my sister- both of them to cancer they were both way too young to leave this earth. This song was played at both funerals and it is such a beautiful song to say goodbye to your loveone. It will always have a special place in my heart.Jodie - Sydney, Bulgaria
haha, just to thow this out there, my first kiss was with this song playing in the background... How ironic is that? And I'm still with the same girl!Joel - Nottawa, Canada
First off, the first 4 choruses of Hallelujah's are an unsure, disbelieving
prayer. They refer to faith in God, but that faith is barely existent. A rough
relationship has caused doubt and guilt about everything that is.

I've 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

The whole song is told from the point of view of a doubting, depressed
believer. Here he alludes to a relationship problem (line 3), possibly just
expressing a newfound incompatibility (what he sees as beautiful, she can't
appreciate). Also, lines 5 and 6 may refer to both his religious and personal
struggle. He admits things aren't going well ("The minor fall"), and looks to
the possibility of some divine reassurance ("the major lift"). The songwriter
is "The baffled king" and out of desperation, he is "composing Hallelujah."


Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

This first allusion to sex is a critique of his relationship. His lust and the
sexuality of the relationship have caused him to lose his faith. As Samson,
his "throne" and "hair" are elements of his faith, which this woman has
stripped him of (I would guess that Samson allowed Delilah the opportunity to
take advantage of him). "And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah." Again,
his faith has been stolen away, so that he can no longer praise God.


Maybe I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
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

Lines 1-3 of this verse refer to his faith in God, whom he had to ponder and
recognize before this relationship distracted him. Lines 4 and 5 pretty
directly refer to a battle (a spiritual one maybe), with "your flag on the
marble arch" symbolizing the pedestal that should have been reserved for God,
but was instead used for this woman. "Love is not a victory march" is a humble
admission of his fault. In line 6, he's left with nothing. It's a sad
realization at the end of what was to be a great thing that it was all wrong.
Nothing was gained, and in fact, "everything" may have been lost.


There was a time you let me know
What's real and going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dark was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

I think this verse gets into the psychology of sex quite a bit. Prior to the
inception of sex into the relationship, "There was a time you let me know
what's real and going on below." "But now..." (with the sexual element as a
deterrant to true emotional correspondence) "you never show it to me, do you?"
Line 4 is obviously referring directly to the act of sex. "The holy dark" may
be the tainting of what was meant to be a "holy" act being misused, and
therefore "dark" refers to the evil that this destruction of a divine gift has
allowed in. In the context of marriage, "every breath we drew" should
constitute a "Hallelujah." But in the confines of this relationship,
the "Hallelujah" expressed may be worship of a false idol (his partner, or
more likely the act of sex itself.


Maybe there's a God above
And 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

Again, he questions his faith, which he has to do since his false idol is no
longer a part of his life. I would submit that in this verse, he no longer
sings to his lost love, but to the love he wants to rediscover (God). If this
is the case, then "someone who outdrew you" could be interpreted as the woman
he sings of, who served as an opposition to God. Lines 4-6, then, sound like a
desperate prayer, a proclamation of a man's lack of faith. His proclamation,
made out of the lowest state of shame is "a cold and it's a broken
Hallelujah," but it's an honest form of worship. Here he bows down to God,
confesses his error, and pleads for help.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

These last intense Hallelujahs are a prayer, a supplication, and an earnest
appeal. A sincere conviction and a new hint of hope can be heard.
Nick - Lompoc, Ca
A song that, in Buckley's version, has a very very big meaning to me, besides being one of the most touching and beautiful recordings ever. Not so much for the meanings and the references featured in the lyrics (it would take a very long time to discuss them all), as because it reminds me a very precise moment of my life. I listened to it in a special day, and i purposely chose it for its title (which in Italian is often used also with the meaning of "at last!" -- i don't know if it's the same also in English...). As I listen to it I go back to that moment, and I throw myself in the sweet, although a little hurting, feelings it causes me.Alberto - Carpi, Italy
I thought that the Rufus Wainwright version of this song was beautiful and touching, like every other version of this song.Alex - Philadelphia, Pa
this song is the saddest song ever i dont really uderstand the whole meaning but everytime i hear it i cry! it's so touching i love it!Sol - Bs. As. , Argentina
I love Jeff Buckley's version. Got it on the ol' iPod. But... Brandi Carlile does a super job of this song, and she's still alive, and she's a super nice gal. She does a live version on iTunes. Check it out. She may be coming to a town near you....
Leonard Cohen is a poet, not a singer. Listen to the lyrics, not the deep bass monotone voice! A lot of really cool songs by LC have been covered by Concrete Blonde, U2, Don Henley, Elton John, Brandi Carlile, Tricia Yearwood,(yes, and Jeff Buckley) and others. Check out this song. Love the lyrics... the presentation of the lyrics by Brandi are magical, too.
Wil - Seattle, Wa
Quick question about the song. I know Jeff Buckley's lyrics are the same as John Cale's but different to Leonard Cohen's - does anyone know whether Cale wrote those lyrics originally?Damian - Canberra, Australia
dont get me wrong, i absolutely LOVE this song...but why did it have to get so commercialized?! did they really understand its meaning when they put it on the O.C. twice? im not so sure.Dylann - Los Angeles, Ca
C in astoria thanks for the link...that girl does that song with her soul. Amazing.Jim - Fairfield, Ct
this has to be possibly one of the greatest songs written. it's so majestical and emotional. the song practically courses through you skin if you crank it up...it gives me goosebumps and tears. :(Anastasia - Anaheim, Ca
The song is simply touching. Jeff Buckley's voice singing the lyrics made me cry. It brings back fond memories of good times.. my band teacher is simply crazy about this song. Every spare second she gets, she plays it.. It's definitely my favorite song.Brigitta - Richmond, Canada
I like Rufus too, as well as Jeff's. A version was used in the film St. Ralph, sung by someone named Gord Downe.

Also used in an episode of Joan Of Arcadia. Here's a website listing Cohen's tunes used in soundtracks:
Paul - Portland, Or
Like any other cover, there is just something about the original. It was written by Leonard, and he really meant it. He was sincere. They are his words. "Hallelujah" is his child, so with alltough respect, Jeff's woudn't exist without Lenny.Zoe - Montreal, Canada
The John Cale verion of the song was used in the Scrubs episode 'My Old Lady'.John - Regina, Canada
I am an avid watcher of the TV show House, and this song has been played several times. It refers to House's relationship with Stacy Warner and lack of relationship with Allison Cameron.Ac - Owensboro, Ky
This site is soo cool! Hallelujah actually means praise to Jehovah. Hallel in Hebrew means praise, and the remaining part, Jah, refers to Gods name YHWH in Hebrew which is Jehovah.June - Cityham, United States
Jeff Buckley said himself he gives a lot of emphasis to singing in songs... in his opinion, the voice was what carried the feeling (the way I understood it at least)... I think he shows a lot of that in this coverMarkus - Stockholm, Sweden
Leonard Cohen's version is not as good as Jeff Buckley's cover, but him having written it, I'd still credit him at least as much as Buckley... Rufus Wainwright's' ok, but far too stale and chained to reach the level of Buckley's version which is free'er and more alive... In that case Gavin De Graw's live version is, though Gavin perhaps exaggerating his voice a little, just the "wee bit" better than Rufus'...
But Buckley's after all, definitely the best...

Al, Georgetown, Canada... I would say that Rufus' simplicity makes his version, though it's pretty good, by far less spiritual than Jeff Buckley's

Matthew, Roanoke... learned it on the guitar myself too... thought i'd just mention it : )
Markus - Stockholm, Sweden
I must agree that, while every version of this beloved song is as touching and emotional as it is, my favorite version would be the John Cale version. Now I don't really consider myself an emotional guy, but this song continues to bring me to tears, hallelujah.Derek - Hilo, Hi
Ummm...Jeff Buckley is God...and uh....this song is too? Really when a song is covered this many times you know someones touched on something great...Maybe God blessed it? Lol. All i know is...wainwrights version is great because the song is great, Jeff Buckley's version is great because...Jeff Buckley is playing it? The song is magic. Plain and simple. Im learning to play it on guitar now, Buckley's way.Matthew - Roanoke, Va
one of the greatest cover by buckley, and one of the worst by wainwright!
Dean - New York, Ny
what can i say, jeff's version is inspiring. It sends chills down my spine each and everytime, wainwright's cover is a world behind jeff's to be honest! haven't heard the original before, as long as i have jeff buckleys cover, i dont care.
Dean - New York, Ny
Rufus nailed it. Musically and metaphorically this is a hymn, best played in a simple arrangement on piano or organ. Spirituality guides this piece. I'm not a religious man, but hearing this gives me pause. If I walked into a large cavenous church and heard Rufus moaning the refrain, you could label me "Born Again".Al - Georgetown, Canada
This song also appears in the last few minutes of Nic Cage's "Lord of War". Hauntingly brilliant. Every person was quiet to hear the angel sing......Sandy Currin - Lillington, Nc
While flipping through stations last night, I was stopped cold and amazed to hear Jeff Buckley's voice soaring out of the tv! They featured 'Hallelujah' on the show HOUSE. It was appropriately used but having never watched the O.C. this was my first experience with a prime time show using his music! I hope that people ignorant to his musical genius will be moved by his voice and maybe fall in love the way we all have.Jesse - Pittsburgh, Pa
i love this song. it was played at my two uncle's funeral. every time i hear it i always think about thim and how much i miss them. i went out and bought the cd after the cerimonies and every morning i play this song and know that they are always there for me.Justy - Mesa, Dc
I absolutely adore Jeff Buckley's version. It's spiritual, it's sexual. It's powerful. Can anyone point me to an mp3 of John Cale's version? Haven't heard that one yet and I understand Jeff was inspired to do it after hearing Cale's.

Ellen-Tybee Island
Ellen - Tybee Island, Ga
"It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth, the minor FALL, the major LIFT."
The songfact above about the minor fourth and the major fifth isn't true. The lyrics spell out what the song is doing harmonically; that is, 1, 4, 5, 6, 4, 5, 3, 6 in C major (or, if you like, CM, FM, GM, Am, FM, GM, Em, Am). Most minor songs do not end in a minor fourth, and most major songs do not end in a major fifth. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find such songs. And as for minor fourths and major fifths being used in hymns, MOST CHORDS are used in hymns. Way to go, Mike from Perth, Australia.
Jack - Jefferson, Pa
Um...sorry for being such a dramatic person..but I just ended a relationship that meant a lot. Even though I didn't want to, but I had to. Meh, anyway, the point of this is this song is Unexplainable. It really does cuts to the heart. I think I'm going to sit here and listen to it for the rest of tonight in the hope it helps me get up and over to the next obstacle in life.....Thank you for this song Jeff.....Sam - Auckland, New Zealand
for the most part . . . i'm pretty much a hard - ass engineer when it comes down to it
. . . . but when i heard this - i had to hop in my canoe and head out to an island with my guitar for two days - just little me - ALONE ! ! ! -just to let the thing become a part of me --> emancipating - challenging-to-the-extreme - celibration and resolve that for now, i am in the carnal college - like it or not
Dan - Bailieboro, Canada
This is one of my all-time favorite songs. I get chills every time I hear it. I'm also a huge 'West Wing' fan, and having this song play over the montage at the end of 'Posse Comitatus', as Simon dies and CJ cries...it makes me cry, too, every time. I think it's interesting that there are different sets of lyrics, as well. For instance, in the cover by Arooj Aftab (and I agree with Chris, btw, that she is incredible), the last two verses differ from the ones Jeff Buckley sang. All beautiful words. And Jeff's performance of this song was perfection.Bria - Moultrie, Ga
Hallelujah may in fact contain these specific Biblical references. However the Immaculate Conception is one of Mary, herself. The allusion in question may actually concern the Christ Incarnate.Brian - Meriden, Ct
I am one hundred percent obsessed with this song. I dont even know what it is but it just completely penetrates your soul. i have to say that i dont think kd does it justice but to each his own. a little bible reference correction, bathshebah did not trick david into getting her husband killed but rather david had him put on the front lines of a battle.Darlene - Dallas, Tx
Amazing, pure and simple. It doesn't really matter which version you hear because they are all fab! One of the songs that, no matter how many times I hear it, breaks my heart. Everytime.Jemma - Camborne, England
I just heard Allison Crowe's version and this was also the first time I'd ever heard the song. Don't know why but I played it over and over and cried and cried. For me it said that even cold and broken Hallelujah's are still Hallelujah's. It is a song about real life. Simply wonderful!Sulimah - Montreal, Canada
Many of you probably know that Leonard Cohen added lyrics when he felt like it to this song. In fact, Lincoln Brewster out of Nashville has just gotten permission from Cohen to offer new lyrics again. These lyrics offer hope and are also from the Bible..
P.S. The Marble Arch is a reference to a place in London...
Kate - Southern Cal, Ca
"I've seen your flag on the marble arch
But love is not a victory march" - perhaps refering to Rahab marking her house with the scarlet flag (she helped the isrealite spies escape and she was promised that her family would be spared) when Joshua was marching around Jericho to destroy the city
Kelly - Manchester, Nj
Another excellent cover is done by a fellow named Ari Hest, its a really great version.Nick - San Francisco, Ca
this song is inspirational... the lyrics are pieced together with beautiful guitar. This song has real meaning.Katie - Ballarat, Australia
This song plays during the credits of Basquiat.Allison - Saint Louis, Mo
Mel. N said that this was used in "The West Wing" and I can remember that moment so well. The song was just perfect to play for that moment. It's almsot like time stopped as the scenes went from people stepping over Simon's dead body to Josh getting the phone call about Simon to CJ walking the streets of NY and finally sitting down to cry.Michele - Lewisburg, Wv
It was also used in the season three finale of The West Wing, when Secret Service Agent Donovan played by Mark Harmon was shot down in a most callous manner (assisting a civillian in a store robbery).Mel N - Sydney, Australia

You have to hear Arooj Aftab's version of this song. Arooj is a 19 year old girl from Pakistan who taught herself the guitar (instead of becoming an accoutant, as her parents expected) and recently won a Berklee online scholarship. I stumbled on a web site that has her version on it - http://www.thesahilzone.com/arooj_aftab/AROOJ%20AFTAB_Hallelujah.mp3 - and just had to share it.
Chris - Astoria, Ny
I love this song, it's really good, and it's good in Shrek, The OC and it's such a lovely songEmily - Melbourne, Australia
Have you guys seen Jeff Buckley 'Live in Chicago' on DVD or video? He sings Hallelujah at the end and kind of ruins it in my opinion. I was gutted cos I love the song to death but when I heard him sing it there ...i don't know. I can't watch it past the first verse.Sarah - Auckland, New Zealand
I have several versions of this song-- by Wainwright, Buckley, and Cohen's original...but in my opinion, none of these can compare with John Cale's version, which no one seems to be familiar with. It is...utterly breathtaking. His voice just makes your heart break.

Nevertheless- Rufus Wainwright is straight up brilliant in all he does. I'm not a huge Jeff Buckley fan, which I guess is blasphemous...of the four versions of this song I've heard, I think his is my least favorite. (I still love it, though.)Leonard Cohen is a freakin' legend-- 'Various Positions' is a gorgeous album, and his original version of this song has a certain triumphant quality to it that none of the others, even Cale, seem to have captured.
Nicole - Santa Ana, Ca
Wow, that is one of the best songs ever! And come one guys, Rufus isn't that bad...Cass - North Bay, Canada
an amazing song i love all the versions!
anyone here from dublin know the band on grafton street called the publick health service they do an amzaing verison of this song..watching the guy perform it is really powerful.
also lover, you should have come over is another great song by jeff buckley, if you havent already - listen to it!
Katie - Dublin, Ireland
the most moving sounds i've heard in all my 19 yrs.Mammothdave - London, England
this song is amazing! its perfect for whatever mood your in. Jeff Buckley does an amazing job, he makes the song sound so peaceful.Dani - Winnipeg, Canada
Dieu a crÃ?Ã? la beautÃ? que l'ange l'a chantÃ?e.

God created the beauty and the angel sang it.
Fioge - Longueuil, Canada
I find it surprising that every single person here rates Jeff Buckley's version ahead of the Leonard Cohen original. Sure, it's absolutely brilliant but I think the Leonard Cohen version is even better. Bob Dylan's live version ain't bad either and if you haven't heard it I suggest you try to get a copy of it.Badge - Dublin, Ireland
ihave spent the last month and a half learning to play Buckley's version of 'Hallelujah' on the guitar. i simply don't have the heart to play it live because i know i couldn't remotely do it justice. i never thought i'd be able to pin down my favourite song ever, but this is easily it.Nana Gottfried - London, England
i thought perhaps that perfection was a myth.after hearing hallelujah by jeff buckley i reckon that if it does exist, this is the only kind of perfection I have ever known.Ethel - Dublin, Ireland
I have always loved this song, although it's so sad. Five days ago, I was on my way to my husband's cremation when this song came on the radio. It was a gift from my husband, and a moment in time that I will always treasure.Sallie - Las Vegas, Nv
This was recently covered on k.d. Lang's latest, Hymns of the 49th Parallel. It's truly beautiful and a must listen.Alicia - Astoria, Ny
I heard "Grace" for the first time and "Hallelujah" arrived...
What a chock!!
I have only heard this wonderful version.
Jeff died so young...
Duff - Paris'suburb, France
Absolutely, the best cover version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is from Jeff Buckley. However, Buckley's tone lacks of thanksgiving and joy with more sadness and melancholy, while you will get the absence during enjoying Cohen's original voice. This eternal song was covered by lots of singers with 44 versions. The outstanding ones included the tribute from Bob Dylan(sung live "Hallelujah" during his 1988' Paris tour), John Cale(in his 1992 album Fragments of a Rainy Season),K.D.lang(in her 2004 album Hymns Of The 49th Parallel),Jeff Buckely(in his 1994 album Grace),Rufus Wainwright(in Shrek OST),Bono(in a tribute album Tower of Songs), Damien Rice(sung live in Netherlands in 2003) and Kathryn Williams(in her 2004 ablum Relations).Roderick - Qingdao, China
i just heard the original by leonard cohrn. it sounds like freakin' Reggae! maybe i just got a remix???Joe - Southampton, England
Incredibly beautiful! Have been listening to it whole evening and can't stop. Great loss....Carmen DiazCarmen - Rotterdam, Netherlands
The Buckley version ( I'm almost sure) was used on the West Wing when CJ's secret service guy - with whon whe is falling in love- is killed by an armed robber in a bodega.Patricia - East Tennessee
when i heard jeff buckley's version of this modern day classic i felt haunted yet loved. his voice is so unique and beautiful it really touched something inside me and everytime i hear it an overwhelming feeling of sadness falls upon me. it is the only song ever to make me cry and not one other person living or dead can do to hallejah what this amazing ledgend in his own right did to itAnne - Dublin, Ireland
It was also used in an episode of "The L Word". Hsve only heard Buckley's version, but think it is AMAZING!Win - London, England
C'mon guys, stop being such elitists - Cohen deserves serious respect for having the brilliance to conjure this amazing song, Buckley (who, if alive, might have been the next Dylan) deserves insane praise for arguably the best version of any song ever, and Wainwright should get massive acclaim for quite simply being one the greatest living musicians. We're allowed to like more than one thing ;).Matt - Conway, Ar
This song has been used in an episode of Crossing Jordan. The one with a guy claiming to be Saint FrancisJames - Mississauga, Canada
My friend Rachel sent me this song the other day and I have been playing it non-stop. It is so beautiful and haunting! It makes me cry almost everytime I listen to it. What a beautiful voice Jeff has, such a sad loss... :(Anonymous
What a tragic loss of true talent...Jeff's voice was so haunting and beautiful...I stumbled into "Grace" years back in a small record store...i fell in love immediately. So sad.Julie - Marquette, Mi
WOW, what an awesome song, he has the voice of an angelJulia - London, England
This song appeared in season finale of the west wing (season two or three i think).Mel N - Sydney, Australia
this is one of the most beautiful songs ever written and Jeff Buckleys version is by far the best.Tim - Auckland, New Zealand
Jeff Buckley beats anyone hands down, by the way his anniversary was only couple of weeks ago
Jeff was the most talented man of his time in the ninetees im surprised all of his better songs arent on here
Put in Lover, Should have come over, Grace, Last Goodbye Dream Brother
Daniel - Perth, Australia
Jeff buckley's version was definately the best and most well sung, and he is famous for it...this was used in the Season Finale of Season 1 of the OC, when everyone parted ways as Ariel pointed outHadis - Woodbridge, Canada
jeff buckley is rolling around in his grave, even though he did not actually write the song. his version was by far the best. jeff buckley is a brilliant musician. and nobody likes rufus wainwright...Kevin - Kettering , Oh
i noticed that wherever i hear this song on tv or in movies, there always seems to be a parting of waysAriel - Woodbridge, Ct
The song was also used in the "Without A Trace" show in the Season 1 Finale episode.Brittany - Eugene, Or
Let's just say after having been awed for years by Jeff Buckley's version, when I heard the Shrek version, it was like wiping with sand paper after years of using satin.Ash - Charleston, Wv
i have to agree, jeff buckly all the waySam - Brisbane, Australia
the jeff buckley version of this song is the most beautiful composition i have ever heard. it's also used in an episode of "the O.C."Annabelle - Atlanta, Ga
i think the jeff buckley version is much better.Jon - Wilton, Ct
This song was reintroduced to the public by an earlier version Jeff Buckley recorded in 1994. Jeff's version was used in a VH-1 commercial when 9/11 occured.Shelli - Madison, Wi
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