“Hallelujah” is a rare song. There is no doubt that one listen will change you. Maybe you will hear it in a movie or TV show. Maybe driving in your car alone. You may think that you have heard it before, even though you haven’t. This mix of religious chanting and sensual imagery may be found in many Prince songs, like “Controversy”, which features “The Lord’s Prayer” recited over the funky beats. However, this song has circumnavigated the Billboard charts and pop radio to find you, just as you were looking for it.
The original “ Hallelujah ” is performed by its composer, the legendary Canadian songwriter, Leonard Cohen.
The classic version is performed by the late Jeff Buckley.
Think of how many road-tested artists have launched their careers with just one monumental hit song on their debut album. For example, Elton John: “Your Song” or Billy Joel: “Piano Man”. Both stars released a few albums between the massive debut and the hit records that made them legends. Was this a major performer on the verge of stardom? Gone too soon at age 30.
The song’s first line let’s you know that this is an extraordinary performance. “I hear there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord”.
You Tube Video – Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley .
LastFM – Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley (Better audio than YouTube, listen as you read the song’s story, you will see a black box in the upper right corner of LastFM.com)
Jeff Buckley is born in Anaheim, California.
(b. November 17, 1966 – d. May 29, 1997, age, 30.)
Jeff Buckley met his father only once at age 8, according to Rolling Stone Encyclopedia Of Rock and Roll. Musician TIM BUCKLEY (Jeff’s father), died of a drug overdose at age 28 in 1975. His 9 studio albums and 7 live albums define his folk & jazz direction on vinyl.
Although, the name on his birth certificate was Jeff Buckley, he was named Scott (Scotty) Moorhead by his mother and his step-father Ron Moorhead. The California native also had a half-brother, Corey.
Leonard Cohen, composer of “Hallelujah”. “Various Positions”, CD released.
Jeff Buckley’s early career.
1985-1991, Los Angeles. Finding work, performing.
1991 New York City. Finding work, performing.
1992 Performing regularly at Manhattan’s East Village club called, Sin-e. Recording some performances. Sought after by record label executives.
1992 Jeff Buckley signs with Columbia Records
CD : “I’m Your Fan”, a Leonard Cohen tribute.
This album title is word play with one of Cohen’s songs called, “I’m Your Man”. Song # 18 on this recording is “Hallelujah” performed by John Cale. Cale was a founding member of the Velvet Underground. One of his bandmates was the legendary Lou Reed.
**(Not to be confused with J.J. Cale who wrote “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” that were made famous by Eric Clapton.)
All songs written by Leonard Cohen.
Song #9 and # 14 are co-written by Phil Spector.
“Who by Fire” – The House of Love
“Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” – Ian McCulloch
“I Can’t Forget” – Pixies
“Stories of the Street” – That Petrol Emotion
“Bird on the Wire” – The Lilac Time
“Suzanne” – Geoffrey Oryema
“So Long, Marianne” – James
“Avalanche IV” – Jean-Louis Murat
“Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On”
David McComb&Adam Peters
“First We Take Manhattan” – R. E. M.
“Chelsea Hotel” – Lloyd Cole
“Tower of Song” – Robert Forster
“Take This Longing” – Peter Astor
“True Love Leaves No Traces” – Dead Famous People
“I’m Your Man” – Bill Pritchard
“A Singer Must Die” – Fatima Mansions
“Tower of Song” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
“Hallelujah” -John Cale
Buckley records “Grace” LP sessions.
Buckley tours to support “Live at Sin-e” CD.
Jeff Buckley, “Grace” CD released. Includes “ Hallelujah”.
Buckley tours internationally. London, Paris, Australia, Japan etc.
“Tower Of Song”, a superstar tribute to Leonard Cohen.
Song # 4 , Bono (U2) singing his version of “Hallelujah”.
“Everybody Knows” – Don Henley
“Coming Back to You”- Trisha Yearwood
“Sisters of Mercy” – Sting with The Chieftains
“Hallelujah” – Bono
“Famous Blue Raincoat” – Tori Amos
“Ain’t No Cure for Love” – Aaron Neville
“I’m Your Man” – Elton John
“Bird on a Wire” – Willie Nelson
“Suzanne” – Peter Gabriel
“Light as the Breeze”- Billy Joel
“If It Be Your Will” – Jann Arden
“Story of Isaac” – Suzanne Vega
“Coming Back to You” – Martin Gore
U2 has not recorded “ Hallelujah” but, the 1988 B-side of “Desire” was ” Hallelujah (Here She Comes)” , a different song.
During the massive Pop Mart World Tour from 1997-98, U2 did include “ Hallelujah” (Cohen’s) on their set list. (see henrywagner.org, U2 set lists Pop Mart)
MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best New Artist in a Video for “Last Goodbye”.
“Live In Chicago” Jeff Buckley, (DVD) includes “Hallelujah”
-Tom Verlaine (Television, see 1977 LP, “Marquee Moon”) agrees to produce upcoming album. Verlaine had also worked with Patti Smith.
-Drummer Matt Johnson leaves the group and band goes on hiatus.
Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen. Biography written by Ira B. Nadel (re-released 2007)
January 1997, Buckley holds New York City appearances.
Februay 1997, Buckley moves to Memphis, Tennessee to rehearse and record new material. He also performs for about 4 months in one local bar to work out his latest songs.
May 29, 1997. Jeff Buckley, 30, drowns.
Buckley’s band returns from NYC from a brief recording session. Buckley had remained in Memphis. Buckley and roadie Keith Foti decide to go night-swimming in one of the Mississippi’s tributaries called Wolf River, where they have gone swimming before. Even at 9:00 pm, it was a very hot summer’s night in Memphis. As Buckley jumped in the Wolf River Harbor, Foti briefly went back to the car. He returned to the river’s edge finding that Buckley had disappeared. After an immediate search, his body was not found.
June 4, 1997. Seven days later, Buckley’s body was discovered in the river. He drowned fully-clothed and with his boots still on. Drugs were not found in his system.
Much of this information about Jeff Buckley, including his death, comes from “Dream Brother” by David Browne (published 2001).
Released posthumously, Buckley’s second studio album called, “Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk”. It is a 2-CD, 20-song collection of recordings from 1996-97.
Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for Buckley’s “Everybody Here Wants You”.
“Dream Brother” (The Life and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley) by David Browne. The definitive story of their lives. (see HarperCollins.com for some segments)
“The Independent” interview. Bob Dylan meets Cohen and they discuss the writing of “ Hallelujah”. Cohen is “embarrassed” that it took so long to write. Dylan performs “ Hallelujah” in a 1988 Montreal Forum concert. Cohen reveals that there were 80 verses and uses only 36 of them! Dry wit serves Cohen well. (The Independent, a British newspaper 12-8-05)
Willie Nelson records “ Hallelujah” on his Songbird CD. He includes a strange version of “Amazing Grace”, too.
K.D. Lang performs “Hallelujah” in several appearances including Cohen’s induction to the Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame. Several emotional clips on You Tube. Both Lang and Cohen are Canadian.
Bon Jovi performs “ Hallelujah” live during “Stripped”. (see You Tube)
John Cale, on piano, singing with string quartet in live studio setting (see You Tube, March 14, 2007)
The Rock and Rock Hall Of Fame inducts Leonard Cohen.
Cohen’s career spanning video includes Bono’s lauding the song and songwriter. Cohen is inducted with affection and profound praise by Lou Reed. Damien Rice sings “ Hallelujah” during his induction. Cohen enchants the music industry’s elite by quoting verses from his song, “Tower Of Song”. (see You Tube, 10 min.)
Billboard’s Hot Digital Songs chart lists Jeff Buckley’s “ Hallelujah” as the Number One song on March 7. This chart is mainly the i-Tunes tabulation of instant computer downloads. This surge was due to the exposure from “American Idol”. The modern-day, amateur hour featured, unknown Jason Castro performing “Hallelujah”.
British version of “Idol” called, X Factor had a similar effect on the UK charts. Unknown Alexandia Burke recorded “ Hallelujah” and hit Number One in the 2008 (UK) Singles chart and Number One in the Christmas (UK) chart. By the way, Burke won the competition.
However, the devoted fans of Jeff Buckley were outraged that their anthem would be remember by an unknown pop singer. So, through several social networking internet sites, a grass-roots, non-industry campaign, led by Buckley fanatic, Lucy Powell, sent Buckley’s version up the charts to try to overtake the X Factor’s Burke’s version.
Due to this movement, Buckley’s “ Hallelujah” reached #2 without a new CD or a new film soundtrack release. A rare achievement.
The 2008 Christmas (UK) chart was a Hallelujah Triple Play.
Burke’s version at # 1, Buckley’s version at #2 and Cohen’s version at # 36.
Michael McDonald released “Soul Speak” CD, includes “Hallelujah”
The Canadian Tenors released self-titled CD, includes “Hallelujah”
The group, Paramore, records a song called “ Hallelujah”. Not Cohen’s song.
“My Sister’s Keeper” (starring Cameron Diaz). The soundtrack includes one Jeff Buckley song. His version of Elton John’s “We All Fall In Love Sometimes”. Originally included on his 1975 classic “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy”, Buckley gives this song a similar vibe as “ Hallelujah”.
“Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah”, a biography by Tom Footman
K.D. Lang belts out “Hallejulah” to open the Winter Olympics hosted by Canada. Her stunning performance enraptures the jam-packed arena and the world-wide TV audience. The hand-held lights and the a spectaular light show enhanced lang’s moment. Lang and Cohen are Canadian.
Go to NBC Olympics.com to see this performance.
See www.JeffBuckley.com . A very complete, up-to-date website that covers most aspects of his career and legacy.
Rufus Wainwright and partner and ‘deputy dad’ Jorn Weisbrodt. The child’s mother, Lorca Cohen, is daughter of Leonard Cohen.
“Gay singer has child with Leonard Cohen’s daughter, while partner is ‘deputy dad’ to baby with three parents” -The Guardian” Feb 21.2011. Story here: www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/feb/21/rufus-wainwright-cohen-viva-katherine
There is a fan website called www.JeffBuckleyCommunity.com . This blog includes strange topics like Leonard Cohen “begging his peers to stop recording (so many) versions of his anthem, Hallelujah.” Interesting.
Some Uses of “ Hallelujah ” in Films / TV
2001-Scrubs (TV soundtrack) (John Cale version)
2001-“Shrek” (Rufus Wainwright version)
2001-The West Wing
2003-Without A Trace
2004-“The Edukators” (Cannes Film Festival)
2005-“Lord Of War” (starring Nicolas Cage)
2006-House (Rufus Wainwright version)
2007-“Feast of Love”
2008-One Tree Hill (Kate Voegele version)
Media information (TV/Film) from www.imdb.com , search “Leonard Cohen” filmography.
Recognition By The Media.
Rolling Stone magazine honors:
“Grace” was ranked #303 of the 500 Greatest Albums, in 2003.
Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah” was ranked #259 of the 500 Greatest Songs, in 2004.
Buckley ranked #39 in its 2008 list: The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
Australia: On the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time, 2009. The Australian entertainment powerhouse includes radio, TV, internet and magazine. Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” was voted in 3rd place.
Other Jeff Buckley songs were “Last Goodbye” was 7th, Lover, “You Should’ve Come Over” was 56th and “Grace” came in 69th. Over 13, 000 votes were tabulated for this poll.
Australia’s Q Magazine (est. 1986) specializing in music lists.
Greatest Rock Songs Of All-Time, # 86 (2006)
Best Rock CD, “In Our Lifetime”, 1986 to 2001, # 14 (2001)
Readers All-Time Top 100 CD’s, “Grace”, # 75 (1998)
Readers All-Time Top Albums, “Grace” # 25 (2003)
Compiled by DJ Mr Ed Mullen.
Information from websites, JeffBuckley.com , JeffBuckleyCommunity.com, TunesOnTheTube.com, SkyNews.com, LastFM.com, the Internet Movie Data Base, You Tube, HarperCollins.com and songfacts.com . Also, Billboard magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Amazon.com and wiki-pedia.
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