Hallelujah (1985-1993)

"It's a rather joyous song . I like very much the last verse.  I remember singin' it to Bob Dylan after his last concert in Paris.  The morning after, I was having coffee with him and we traded lyrics . Dylan * especially liked this last verse  "And even though it all went wrong , I stand before the Lord of song With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah"

Leonard COHEN  (interview,Paroles et Musiques,1985)


*....and Bob Dylan sung live "Hallelujah" during his 1988' tour


Thank you very much friends. You know, since I’ve been here, many people have asked me what I have thought just about everything there is in this veil of tears. I don't know the answers to anything. I just come here to sing you these songs that have been inspired by something that I hope is deeper and bigger than myself. I have nothing to say about the way that Poland is governed. I have nothing to say about the resistance to the government. The relationship between a people and its government is an intimate thing. It is not for a stranger to comment. I know that there is an eye that watches all of us. There is a judgment that weighs everything we do. And before this great force which is greater than any government, I stand in awe and I kneel in respect. And it is to this great judgment, that I dedicate this next song: "Hallelujah".

Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means "Glory to the Lord." The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist . I say : "All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value ." It's, as I say, a desire to affirm my faith in life,not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.

Here there is an ironic and warm “feeling.” I wanted to get into this tradition of the composers who said “Hallelujah,” but with no precisely religious point of view. And then I realize there is a “Hallelujah” more general that we speak to the world, to life… It's a rather joyous song. I like very much the last verse. I remember singin' it to Bob Dylan after his last concert in Paris. The morning after, I was having coffee with him and we traded lyrics. Dylan especially liked this last verse, "And even though it all went wrong, I stand before the Lord of song with nothing on my lips but Hallelujah."

About the second verse, "Your faith was strong but you needed proof":

According to the Judaic tradition, David asked for ordeal. But the Rabbies said we should be reluctant to do so because ordeal there will sure be!

"David playing psalterion", Reichenau Movement, Tenth century

I intended to say "Hallelujah". There is a religious Hallelujah, but there are many other ones. When one looks at the world and his proper life, there's only one thing to say, it's Hallelujah. That's the way it is....

It means "Thank You" ?

The literal translation is "Pray God". It's not exactly some gratitude but the affirmation there is a will that we can't control. What can we do in front of it ?

A good will or a bad one ?

An impenetrable one.

Mysterious ?

Saying "Mysterious" is again making a description. This will is obvious from time to time, hidden at other times

This is a song about the broken

Verse Variation

Forgive me Lord if you're up there above
But all I ever learned from love....

You know,I wrote this song a couple of..,it seems like yesterday but I guess it was five or six years ago and it had a chorus called Hallelujah.  And it was a song that had references to the Bible in it,although these references became more and more remote as the song went from beginning to the end.And finally I understood that it was not necesary to refere to the Bible anymore.And I rewrote this song;this is the "secular" Hallelujah.<<Baby I've been here before..>>.

Modified verses

But it's not a cry that you hear tonight
And it's not some gleeful laughter
From somebody who says he has seen the light...

alternate version (Roskilde July 2nd, 1988)

It's not some gleeful christian who has seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Yeah another song came on top of that. So I'd already recorded that one. And I wanted to push the Hallelujah deep into the secular world, into the ordinary world. The Hallelujah, the David's Hallelujah was still a religious song. So I wanted to indicate that Hallelujah can come out of things that have nothing to do with religion.

In solemn testimony of that unbroken faith, which binds a generation one to another, I hereby bestow upon you the ancient priestly benediction "May the Lord bless you and keep you, May the Lord shine His Light upon you, May the Lord be gracious unto you, and grant you the blessings of Peace".

verse variation

  ....Well I've seen your walls ( alternative * your fortress) , your towers on the marble arch.
      But Love is not a victory march....

Single released after the issue of "I'm your fan" tribute album