The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"

The Holy or the Broken Leonard Cohen Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah A venerated creator An adored tragic interpreter An uncomplicated memorable melody Ambiguous evocative words Faith and uncertainty Pain and pleasure Today Hallelujah is one of the most performed r

A venerated creator An adored, tragic interpreter An uncomplicated, memorable melody Ambiguous, evocative words Faith and uncertainty Pain and pleasure Today, Hallelujah is one of the most performed rock songs in history It has become a staple of movies and television shows as diverse as Shrek and The West Wing, of tribute videos and telethons It has been cover A venerated creator An adored, tragic interpreter An uncomplicated, memorable melody Ambiguous, evocative words Faith and uncertainty Pain and pleasure Today, Hallelujah is one of the most performed rock songs in history It has become a staple of movies and television shows as diverse as Shrek and The West Wing, of tribute videos and telethons It has been covered by hundreds of artists, including Bob Dylan, U2, Justin Timberlake, and k.d lang, and it is played every year at countless events both sacred and secular around the world.Yet when music legend Leonard Cohen first wrote and recorded Hallelujah, it was for an album rejected by his longtime record label Ten years later, charismatic newcomer Jeff Buckley reimagined the song for his much anticipated debut album, Grace Three years after that, Buckley would be dead, his album largely unknown, and Hallelujah still unreleased as a single After two such commercially disappointing outings, how did one obscure song become an international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, a song each successive generation seems to feel they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own Through in depth interviews with its interpreters and the key figures who were actually there for its original recordings, acclaimed music journalist Alan Light follows the improbable journey of Hallelujah straight to the heart of popular culture The Holy or the Broken gives insight into how g

  • Unlimited The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" - by Alan Light
    283 Alan Light
The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of 'Hallelujah'

About Author

  1. A veteran music journalist, ALAN LIGHT is the author of The Holy or the Broken Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah and Let s Go Crazy Prince and the Making of Purple Rain Light was previously the editor in chief of Vibe and Spin and a senior writer for Rolling Stone He is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times.

    Reply

The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" Comment

  1. It s hard to sustain an entire book based on an analysis of one song, but if there s a song to write a book on other than perhaps one by Dylan , it d be Hallelujah Although Cohen sanctioned the writing of this, he did not participate in it and his voice is notably missing Then again, something might be lost if Mr Cohen himself commented in any kind of a definitive way as part of his thesis, Light repeatedly comes back to the idea that Hallelujah has enjoyed the slow build to popularity many woul [...]


  2. in the nearly thirty years since leonard cohen first recorded hallelujah, it has gone from largely overlooked album track to one of the most covered songs in recent history rock editor and journalist alan light traces the improbable trajectory of this now infamous song from its painstaking birth it took years to compose to its enduring ubiquity the holy or the broken focuses mostly on the bard of montreal and the late singer songwriter responsible for its most well known and perhaps most stirrin [...]


  3. This book for me turned out to be one of those that I wish I d read sooner The real life stories that revolve around just a single song Hallelujah are all amazing, especially the ones of Cohen and Buckley as the cover points out Unlike some other composers Cohen was courageous and experimental enough to let go of this piece to have its own life and like all beings that are let free to go with love the song returned back to him and to us all in an magical and magnificent way If you like reading a [...]


  4. I wish I knew why this book exists It probably has something to do with the fact that there are eleventy billion covers of this Leonard Cohen song, and someone needed to explain why on earth and in heaven people can t stop punching it into the karaoke machine or singing it on musical talent show TV programs.To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, I used to love itbut it s all over now For the uninitiated those who didn t know that Cohen wrote the damn thing it seems I m unusual in that his was the ver [...]


  5. This was great if you like music or think about the meaning behind words or lyrics or why the song Hallelujah took on the life it has, this is a must read Prepare to spend hours on YouTube watching different renditions and dissecting the performances There s a particularly great one of Cohen performing his original and the expressions when he sings make it clear he s written some FUNNY STUFF into the song though I love how Buckley bleeds his heart out into his version of it And I m firmly now in [...]


  6. Bob Dylan s Like a Rolling Stone is the antithesis of Leonard Cohen s Hallelujah Even though both songs are undeniable classics written by two of the world s greatest living songwriters, they stand world s apart or so Alan Light suggests in his book, The Holy or the Broken Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah.According to Light, a former editor in chief of Vibe and Spin magazines and a frequent contributor to the New York Times and Rolling Stone, Dylan, along with Brian [...]


  7. This book amazed me I first heard the song Hallelujah on a John Cale live CD called Fragments of a Rainy Season and was very hypnotized by Cale s solo piano live rendition and subsequently saw him perform it live several times, including once with a stringed quartet The song led me to Leonard Cohen who wrote it and I soon became addicted to his music and poetry For half a decade I enjoyed the song in solitude and knew it only through the original 1984 Cohen and the 1992 Cale version To my amazem [...]


  8. This is a book about a song A single song A single song that has been covered hundreds of times, but still, a single song It s a testament to the song that while reading the book I listened to various versions of the song hundreds of times, and never got tired of it Leonard Cohen, John Cale, Jeff Buckley That s the main thrust of the song here, John Cale playing an under heralded part in bringing Cohen s song to Jeff Buckley, who then brought it to the mainstream As a lifelong Cohen fan who saw [...]


  9. There is a religious hallelujah, but there are many other ones, Leonard Cohen once said When one looks at the world, there s only one thing to say and it s hallelujah That s the way it is Well, that was a fascinatingly dry read I ve been on a huge Jeff Buckley kick lately I just cannot get enough of Grace It s amazing and Hallelujah is really the shining point on that album So, when I came across this book, I decided to check it out It s really fascinating to read about all of the various incarn [...]


  10. The repetitive, superficial, and soul crushing history of the transformation of the world s most underrated singer s most overrated song into thoroughgoing cultural commodity into an easy to swallow, easy to digest, instant serving of innocuous spirituality lite or meaningful sadness on demand, useful as a temporary soul substitute for a culture, a century, and a generation that has successfully sloughed off their own A nauseating history, nauseatingly told in standard NPR lite relativist philis [...]


  11. It s hard for me to tease out my feelings for the book, when the book is an exercise in conjuring the song Like nearly everyone else, I adore the song I have a favorite version, maybe three I ve sat in concert halls and listened to Cohen sing it, tears running down my face, exactly twice So far Well written, well researched, this book is fascinating to read if you are at all interested in the long strange trip this song has taken, and what many of the singers think about it It s a special song, [...]


  12. Few modern songs are so deep in the cultural psyche as Hallelujah The first time I remember REALLY hearing it was an episode of The West Wing, Posse Comitatus This beautiful, haunting song provided the only sound while a number of scenes played out before our eyes The song provided emotion than even Aaron Sorkin s writing and the stellar cast could convey.I heard it again in Shrek, but it wasn t until years later when I saw The Watchmen that I heard it by the man who wrote it, Leonard Cohen And [...]


  13. If you re looking for the meaning of lyrics to Hallelujah or what Leonard Cohen was thinking about when he wrote the song or what the lyrics mean to him you won t find it in this book or anywhere else Cohen, very wisely I think, won t talk about the song s lyrics This isn t a book about Leonard Cohen or Jeff Buckley who sang the most celebrated version of the song It s a book about the history of the song itself It was originally ignored by Cohen fans and music critics but it was discovered 10 y [...]


  14. We had a community sing along of Hallelujah a few weeks ago, and I eagerly participated because it is one of my favorite songs, after all But when I arrived and saw a verse with which I wasn t familiar on our handout, and it was so clearly about sex and orgasm, I was a little uncomfortable singing with my neighbors, especially children I mentioned this to my husband and my friend, and both looked at the verse and they weren t sure they agreed with me How could they not It was blatant Then I star [...]


  15. A quick, informative read about the strange fortunes of a song that has become one of today s most covered and most popular Leonard Cohen s Hallelujah It was nearly ignored when first released int he mid 1980s the album it was on couldn t even get a U.S release Nevertheless, its simple, beautiful melody and religio erotic imagery have captured musical artist after musical artist to do his or her own interpretation Light offers insights about what precisely has made Hallelujah adaptable to so man [...]


  16. I really enjoyed this It s a brief bio of Leonard Cohen, a briefer bio of Jeff Buckley R.I.P , and, of course, a comprehensive bio for a song The writing is inviting and entertaining, and the explication of the various versions of Hallelujah is interesting But what I found most fascinating were the descriptions of the creative process Cohen s when he wrote the song, and various other artists when they were figuring out how to interpret it Sure, there are times when an entire book about one song [...]


  17. Hallelujah is one of my favourite songs The history of how this book went from a little song on an unreleased album to one of the great hymns of the 21st century is amazing I have to admit that I had to listen to the Buckley version on YouTube because I couldn t remember hearing it It s okay but for me no version will ever be better than k.d lang s at the Vancouver Olympics.I would recommend this book to any fans of the song.


  18. This is the first review I have written.I was first exposed to the song Hallelujah several years ago and fell in love with it I was mystified when people nodded knowingly but seemed a bit bored with my enthusiasm to a newly found song This book explains the history and omnipresence of this absolutely amazing melody and words Alan Light s book is very thorough about the historical development of the song and includes fascinating music history.


  19. Frank Zappa said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture To an extent that is a very true statement Taking a piece of art that was expressed in one medium and trying to explain examine it in another medium can be a daunting task But in the hands of a knowledgeable and dedicated craftsman such as Alan Light it expands on the beauty of the subject piece Alan Light is one of the foremost music journalists working today and has written a fascinating account of the making, remakin [...]


  20. Leonard Cohen s Hallelujah is like Vincent Van Gogh s Starry Night or The Beatles Sgt Peppers I completely get the universal acclaim, but I also understand that some people are just done with the song.Because of this ubiquity, I also understand why Alan Light decided to dedicate an entire book to the song It has a fascinating trajectory from its first appearance on Cohen s 1985 album Various Positions it was then largely ignored and forgotten , to Velvet Underground alum John Cale s cover, which [...]


  21. The Holy or the Bro ken Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buck ley, and the Unlikely Ascent of Hal lelu jah by Alan Light is a non fiction book which traces the strange route of a song That song, one of the most pop u lar ones in the world, is Hal lelu jah by mas ter word smith Leonard Cohen.The Holy or the Bro ken by Alan Light is a fas ci nat ing book about the cul tural phe nom ena known as Hal lelu jah This is a song which I love but have never given much thought to it, the tune is sim ple and I m pos i t [...]


  22. Spectacular, fascinating book Loved every minute of it If you re familiar with any of the myriad versions of the song Halleluja, and if you aren t, really, what rock have you been living under then you will be fascinated with the extensive research and interviews with absolutely everyone ever connected to it that the author does for this exhaustive, thoughtful and insightful examination of the highly unlikely but meteoric rise of the song to iconic status.The main anchors of the book are the son [...]


  23. The first thing you notice when you decide to read The Holy or the Broken is that the song Hallelujah might be stuck in your head the entire duration you re reading it My initial thought when I began to read the introduction I am about to read an entire book about one song How is it going to keep my attention Thankfully, Alan Light doesn t have a problem doing exactly that The progression of the chapters builds nicely beginning with waxing poetic about a lyric poet songwriter, the great Leonard [...]


  24. I learned a lot about the song Hallelujah, most surprisingly that it is far than a modern all purpose spiritual with a gorgeous chorus It is a tremendously intricate and subtle song, with dark and funny musings about sex and disappointment and personal strife The book traces an amazing story Cohen recorded this song in the early 1980s after spending four or five years struggling to write it But CBS Records judged refused to release the album, judging it uncommercial For years, almost no one hea [...]


  25. I have to admit when I first received this book as a gift, I did think to myself that it was a stretch to try to base an entire book on a song Now it is a damn good song my wife and I in a burst of inspired originality even chose the kd lang version for our wedding day in 2005 and I had grown fond of mr Cohen and his twinkly elder showman routine in recent years But I was disappointed with the latest biography on him, I m Your Man, as I thought he came across as trying too hard and a bit creepy [...]


  26. Ok, what is there to say about this book, about this song Alan Light traces Hallelujah from its poetic beginning to its ubiquitous presence in popular culture Leonard Cohen wrote the song for several years and had 80 verses which he whittled down to the 5 he finally recorded for Various Positions only to have it wait patiently in relative obscurity, even though it was covered and rearranged by John Cale of the Velvet Underground, until Jeff Buckley covered Cale s arrangement on Grace The song wa [...]


  27. Fished this from a dollar bin, and I was wary of reading it even after I already paid for it which, with my financial situation meant that I was gonna have to read it one of these days , but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit The people giving this one and two stars are dead wrong I can only assume they re what s known in education circles as discouraged readers Not to let you in on any than you need to know about me, but I m one of these people who have spent many an evening in a dank, not par [...]


  28. There is a religious hallelujah, but there are many other ones, Leonard Cohen once said When one looks at the world, there s only one thing to say and it s hallelujah That s the way it is Well, that was a fascinatingly dry read I ve been on a huge Jeff Buckley kick lately I just cannot get enough of Grace It s amazing and Hallelujah is really the shining point on that album So, when I came across this book, I decided to check it out It s really fascinating to read about all of the various incarn [...]


  29. Hallelujah happens to be my favorite song of all time I remember being a teen and hearing it for the first time The lyrics lodged in my heart and made me really think about them In one way I wasn t sure what to think about the words But over the years as I have learned about life and have experienced both the pleasures and the pain, this song has taken on so many new meanings to me and I totally understand the lyrics, both the joyous hallelujah and the cold and broken one As soon as I heard the [...]


  30. A fascinating biography of a gorgeous, iconic song Fans of Cohen, Buckley or Hallelujah, as well as those interested in the history of music and how it intersects with culture, should enjoy Alan Light s The Holy or the Broken Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah.How did this song, originally recorded for an album that was rejected by Cohen s record label, although released later independently, become a modern standard, ubiquitous to the point of oversaturation on tel [...]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *