Minor point

A bit in the papers had me going to listen to the Jeff Buckley version of Hallelujah for the first time. I know it existed but had never heard it.

My immediate thought after hearing it was how Leonard Cohen must have felt when he first heard that version.

Fuck me, I had a piece of that? Shit, I know it’s a good song but that good?

15 thoughts on “Minor point”

  1. I think pretty much anything he did would have that effect on anyone else that had previously performed it…

  2. There is an episode of the Radio 4 programme Soul Music about the song, with some interesting stuff about it’s development and various versions thereof including (briefly) how Buckley came across the song. There’s also stuff about how the song affected people’s lives, which is kind of the series’s schtick.


  3. There is much vomitsome fawning over Buckley on account of him being terribly pretty and terribly dead. But yes, he had a heck of a voice and he knew how to use it. His approach to that track has been smothered by imitation.. I envy anyone who’s yet to hear it for the first time.. but that’s tempered by having been lucky enough to hear it before it became a light-entertainment standard.

  4. I just read this and realised I have never listened to the Leonard Cohen original, so thought I would just now. There is no comparison between the two but its completely unfair to try do so. Buckley’s version is vastly superior both technically and in potential for the the impact it can have on someone when listening. Regardless of which version anyone prefers to listen to, that is an objective fact, in the same way no one can deny that Hendrix’s guitar on All Along the Watchtower is slightly superior to Dylan’s.

    But all that is really irrelevant. it is essentially an amazing song in its own right, and therefore listing to the song, sung by the composer has an intangible quality that cannot be touched by anything. Its Cohen’s song, Buckley borrowed it and as Tim said, Cohen probably thought, shit I didn’t realise it was that good!

  5. Buckley’s version has a different arrangement to Cohen’s.

    Buckley uses the one made by John Cale when he first covered the song on a “tribute to Leonard Cohen” CD – I’m Your Fan”. Cohen wrote about 80 verses originally, using only a few on the original release and others subsequently live.

    Cale’s version is the template to subsequent interpretations like Buckley’s.

    Some people rate KD Laing’s version

    Someone rates Alexandra Burke’s version

  6. You can’t beat the original in my opinion and it’s not nearly one of L Cohen’s best. Greatest songwriter who ever lived, man’s a genius.

  7. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The Buckley version was on one of the Shrek soundtracks, FWIW.

    It seems to be a bit dangerous being a musician called Buckley. Tous morts, pere et fils, and untimely too.

  8. Just listened to it for the first time, it’s bloody good. Leonard Cohen probably felt a bit like Lennon and McCartney when Cocker covered ‘With a little help from my friends’.

  9. The best example of a cover surpassing the original is Johnny Cash covering Trent Reznor’s song Hurt.

  10. Sorry BiCR but Buckley’s version wasn’t on the Shrek soundtrack, it was Rufus Wainwright, although interestingly the version in the actual film was by John Cale.

  11. Buckley’s version was used to good effect on an episode of The West Wing when CJ’s Secret Service protection whom she started to date, was shot and killed.

    Buckley’s version of Lilac Wine, also is great.

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