Heute Nachmittag habe ich meinen Hercule Poirot-Krimi ausgelesen, und mich dabei wieder bestens unterhalten. Bestimmt kaufe ich mir nach und nach noch ein paar weitere Romane mit Meisterdetektiv Hercule Poirot.
Am Abend werde ich dann mein Feber-Buch für mein Musikprojekt beginnen. Statt um 12 Songs dreht sich meine Lektüre dieses Mal nur um ein einziges Lied, um Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".
The Holy or the Broken
The Holy or the Broken
Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley &
the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"
Description: Leonard Cohen spent years struggling with his song “Hallelujah.” He recalls being in a New York hotel room in his underwear, “banging my head on the floor and saying, ‘I can’t finish this song.’ ” He wrote perhaps as many as 80 verses before paring the song down and recording it on the 1984 album “Various Positions.” Then his label, CBS Records, refused to release “Various Positions,” not realizing that “Hallelujah” would become one of the most haunting, mutable and oft-performed songs in American musical history.
This is a banner year for the durable, debonair Mr. Cohen, and anyone who seeks to understand him. Sylvie Simmons’s biography “I’m Your Man” is the definitive Cohen portrait, fearless and smart, even if it includes more detailed information than nondevotees really need.
Now Alan Light has devoted a whole book, “The Holy or the Broken,” to the “Hallelujah” story, which is so rich and sui generis that it barely overlaps with Ms. Simmons’s more sweeping account. A little advice: Go for the twofer. Both Mr. Cohen and his song are fascinatingly mercurial, with the power to move their admirers in mysterious ways.
“The Holy or the Broken” comes with codes that, when scanned, are supposed to yield different versions of “Hallelujah.” Or you can go straight to YouTube and find the renditions that matter most to this book. Mr. Light discusses these performances of “Hallelujah” in chronological order, but there’s much more to “The Holy or the Broken” than a litany of cover versions. The real questions are these: How did this obscure song get into our elevators, subway stations, movies and TV shows? Why is it used at benefits to help victims of disaster? Why won’t contestants on musical talent shows quit butchering it? Why do the lyrics of different versions vary so much? And how did this song get its reputation for universality when nobody, not even Mr. Cohen, really knows what it means?
The album containing “Hallelujah” came out on an independent label in 1984, and then it languished. See Ms. Simmons’s account for an understanding of why, by 1991, the world was nonetheless ready for a Leonard Cohen tribute album: “I’m Your Fan,” put together by the French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles. This album prompted a major overhaul of “Hallelujah” by John Cale, once of the Velvet Underground, who re-edited the lyrics, coming up with a version that has proved more enduring than Mr. Cohen’s. Mr. Cale’s stark, exquisitely pure rendition, with an emphasis on the song’s eroticism, is by some lights (like this one) the best “Hallelujah” ever recorded.