Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Covered Track

Guillaume over at Vraie Fiction has some pretty strong views on the cover versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", & rightly so ( ).
I don't watch the X-Factor, or other such TV shows, for that matter (too upmarket for me), so it was through the Guardian website that I heard about the winner performing the song. Surreal doesn't even begin to describe it. Mind you, it could have been worse, they could have chosen "Bird on a Wire".
By way of a compare & contrast exercise, here's three versions of the song, starting with the composer's own take: .
Next, Jeff Buckley's ethereal reading of the song: .
Finally, K.D. Lang's impassioned rendition on Later with Jools in 2004: .
Personally, I favour KD Lang's cover of the song, but all three are the best versions you could hear. Bob Dylan also chipped in with his own performance of Cohen's classic, but shouldn't have. My only worry is that it might now become a karaoke favourite. That really would be too much to bear.
BTW, Guillaume, bon voyage et Joyeux Noel.


Guillaume said...

Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you too. I hope you don't find my views on Cohen's song too strong, but I find it sad that they cheapen it for a talent show.

Erich said...

It's a brilliant song, and, really, there are many interpretations and favorites that differ quite a lot. John Cale set the form and chose the verses which most covers follow. You've mentioned several of those. My favorite versions are those passionate performances by Allison Crowe (on her Tidings album) and Leonard Cohen (on tour this year). It's great to see Mr. Cohen receiving such appreciation (and, in light of his financial concerns, a chance to regain some footing).