There is a new biography of Leonard Cohen out I’m Your Man by Sylvie Simmons but the book I headed for is the biography of his song “Hallelujah” by Alan Light (full title: The Holy or the Broken – Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”).
The song has become one of the most-performed rock songs in history, a staple of movies and television shows, or tribute videos and telethons, played every year at countless events around the world, both sacred and secular.
“There is simply no getting around the power of that chorus: one word, charged with centuries of meaning, delivered ironically or symbolically or both. It serves as a prayer, perhaps the great prayer of the modern age, regardless of one’s relationship to God. One look at the tears streaming down the faces of a sea of kids singing along with Leonard Cohen at the Coachella Festival demonstrates the ability of this some, with one age-old word at its center, to transport listeners in a way that organized religion has largely failed to do for this generation.”
“Hallelujah” sits on my bookshelf next to the biography of a classic album A Simple Twist of Fate: Bob Dylan and the Making of Blood on the Tracks.