Hallelujah (one more time, with feeling)

April 30, 2011 6:07 AM

Yet another cover of the Cohen standard, but at least I've got an excuse this time.

I've been roped in to a band to headline a festival on Canada Day with the concept of playing classic Canadian songs (CROWBAR! STEPPENWOLF! SLOAN!) which have to be (a) indisputably Canadian and (b) instantly recognizable. So HALLELUJAH is obviously right up there, but we didn't want to do it as a complete wrist-slasher and secondly it needed to be arranged for a full band, as opposed to the Cale piano or the Drake guitar version. Finally, it need a simple backing vocal.

So anyway, this is my attempt. It's kind of sloppy as I found the timing difficult but I did my best to disguise it. I hunted around for different versions of the lyrics so I could give it just the hint of an upbeat ending instead of the suicidal Cale version which everyone sings.

I tried to make as much as I could of the rolling 12/8 feel which sometimes gets lost in the versions I hear... it's got a lovely gospel tinge which I really like.

posted by unSane (5 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Hey, I think this is a nice rendition and that you're not getting many comments only because this song has been done a few times here. I love what you're doing with the piano and vocals and wish you good luck with the show!
posted by snsranch at 7:24 PM on May 1, 2011

Cheers, SNS... it's a relatively straight version because of the intended use. The version I hear in my head just has a big clanging tremolo guitar and the vocal. The bit I liked best was the backing vocals coming in with the almost shouted 'Hallelujah' on the last verse. I think they should probably be a bit louder throughout.
posted by unSane at 6:34 AM on May 2, 2011

Know what you mean about the gospel tinge - you've brought that out here very nicely. Have to say that I don't generally like Leonard Cohen (I've tried, God knows I've tried) and this song doesn't crank my tractor at all, so I'm not someone who's opinion should be accorded much weight!! Particularly after this desecration I committed a while back (it was fun swinging that wrecking ball though)..... But, hey, if you're looking for a non-standard version, be my guest :-))
posted by MajorDundee at 11:23 AM on May 2, 2011

Yes, I well remember that! I think LC would have loved it actually.

It's an interesting challenge -- maybe even a Challenge -- to cover an massively over-familiar song without taking the piss or resorting to pastiche. The space is so mapped out that there's nowhere you can put your feet without treading on somebody's version of other.

I mean, imagine the difficulty of covering Imagine, or Yesterday, or My Way, or I Will Always Love You.
posted by unSane at 11:56 AM on May 2, 2011

I thought this was great. The layered vocals are really nice.
posted by bitterpants at 6:01 PM on July 17, 2014

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