Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen Makes Holiday History

leonard-cohencAs anyone who’s ever heard it can testify, Leonard Cohen‘s often-covered “Hallelujah” is a masterpiece. Around these parts, any serious discussions about the best tunes of all-time include “Hallelujah.” Cohen’s 1984 original is the standard by which to compare the covers that followed, and though we love the versions done by Jeff Buckley in 1994 and Rufus Wainwright in 2001, we think John Cale‘s two takes on the song—one studio (1991), one live (1992)—are the best. So it warms our hearts to hear that Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is the first song ever to occupy the top two spots on the U.K. Top 100 Singles Chart during a Christmas week. Number one is a cover by 20-year-old Alexandra Burke and number two is Buckley’s version. “Hallelujah” is also the only song ever to be featured in three places on the chart simultaneously (Cohen’s original is number 36). Who knew that a 74-year-old Jewish/Zen Buddhist poet from Canada would do so well on the British pop charts at Christmas?

To read about Cohen’s first three albums, which you should already know by heart, click here.

John Cale’s 1991 version of “Hallelujah”:

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Yes, John Cale’s performance is magnificent. But Susann and the Magical Orchestra’s reading of the song is haunting and heartbreaking in its beauty, simplicity, and poignancy. Well worth a listen and arguably a superior rendition of the song. Look for it on 2006’s “Melody Mountain.”