February 9, 2009

Jeff Buckley//Hallelujah

While my true motivations for posting this song today honestly may be too personal to share, I can say a lot about it, because it’s wonderful.

This is, in my opinion, the best version of this song—and there have been many (the track has now been recorded more than 180 times by everyone from KD Lang to John Cale to Rufus Wainwright).

To start like an anthropologist, the original version of this song was written and recorded by Leonard Cohen, who elicits feelings in me similar to the feelings elicited by a Bob Dylan or a Neil Young; that these men are fantastic songwriters (most likely some of the best around), but are often not the best singers/performers of their work…or more specifically, that especially with Young and Cohen, it has taken time and maturity for me to appreciate their own performances of their masterpieces. My love for Leonard Cohen began with covers by Tori Amos (Famous Blue Raincoat), my dear friend Michael Beauchamp (who does mean versions of Chelsea Hotel #2 and Bird on a Wire), and of course, Jeff Buckley.

So then, on to Jeff Buckley, who recorded the cover for his one and only incredible, near perfect 1994 studio album, Grace. Really, I could put any song from this collection up here and be wholly satisfied, as there is no filler on the album. Buckley, who drowned mysteriously and tragically while swimming in a river in Memphis in 1997, had serious soul. His vocals would feel overdramatic, if not for the sincerity that belies his performance and lyrical composition skills. His rendition of Cohen’s classic track is no exception, as Buckley doesn’t even have to convince you of the truth in the content (that love can be simultaneously richly holy and somewhat broken, perfect and flawed and that the underlying broken bits and flaws of human nature, however painful, may be what make for all that beauty).
On the contrary, the truth is just there, effortlessly bleeding through the track like the heartbeats we don’t notice sustaining our bodies: involuntary, but vital.


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.


Adam Cecil said...

When he sings, you definitely get the feeling that he knows what he talks about. It's like he wrote the lyrics himself.

g said...

the man's got amazing feeling in his voice!

Anonymous said...

just about to do my own post on this song.
your take on it is original and unique and personal and says everything and more.

g said...

Thanks for reading, taylorrness.