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Berklee students sing Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah (Happy Holidays from Berklee)

Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee students perform Pedro Osuna's arrangement of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," with vocalist Shalyah Fearing and cellist Nathaniel Taylor.

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WOW! What a performance.

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Voting closed 16

....Ha!

Well done "students"

Correction - VERY well done "students".

Thank you for sharing so that Adam could post that and brighten our day.

(Love that song! thank you Leonard Cohen also - RIP)

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Voting closed 54

Nice performance, but they omitted some of Cohen's most incisive lyrics:

"You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken hallelujah..."

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I particularly like the way Leonard pronounces "you" at the end of the third line, so that it rhymes with "Hallelujah", and thus can be interpreted as

But if I did, well, really, what's it to Yah?

"Yah" being one variant of "the name".

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Voting closed 27

As far as omitting lyrics, though, when John Cale was preparing his tribute version, which became the basis for the huge wave of covers that followed, he sent a letter to Cohen, saying he'd heard him sing a few verses in concert that weren't in the recorded version, and asked if he could see the full lyrics. Cohen sent him back 15 pages. Apparently he wrote around 80 verses. A selection must be made.

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Voting closed 41

I highly recommend a book called "The Holy or the Broken" by Alan Light. It traces the entire long, strange trip of this song from an obscure album track on a Cohen album that nobody bought (his popularity was at such an all time low at the time that it couldn't even get released in this country) to the often misunderstood "standard" that it is today. It's quite an interesting read.

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And didn't slaughter it with insipid "praise version" changes to make it a song about Jesus.

Oy.

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Yeesh.

But they also left out the eggplant-parm verse.

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His best known and most covered song, prior to "Hallelujah":

"And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said 'All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them'
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind"

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Voting closed 20

That doesn't make those composers any less Jewish. Now in many cases, they were doing it for money - there's just a lot more to be made catering to Christmas than, oh, Rosh Hashanah. In Cohen's case, he was expressing his quest for inner truth, but he always came back to his birth religion:

Of course, Cohen was catholic in his religious influences. His songs are replete with Christian as well as Jewish imagery, from the bleeding cross to the Sisters of Mercy to “my sacred heart.” And everybody knows that he was a restless seeker after spiritual truth, spending many years as a monk in the Buddhist retreat on Mount Baldy, California.

But he was always at pains to stress that none of this meant he ever broke from Judaism. He told the BBC in 2007 that his “investigations into other spiritual systems have certainly illuminated and enriched my understanding of my own tradition,” but that “I very much feel part of that tradition - and I practice that and my children practice that. So that was never in question.”

"Hallalujah" itself begins:

Now, I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord

Kind of Old Testamenty right there. To turn that particular song into a paen to Jesus?

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Can someone translate that "Stevil-ese" for me?

I'm 99.98% sure there's a dig in there somewhere but the coffee hasn't hit that part of my brain yet.

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Stevilese is what it says. The "students" are as good as any professionals you will ever hear.

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Why do you keep putting the word "students" in quotation marks.

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They sing like pros, but they are indeed "students" .

Nothing to overanalyze here.

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Thank you! These comments mean a lot:-)

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for showing this beautiful performance.

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That just may be the problem. Not to take away from these obviously talented performers, but there simply isn't any "grit" in the performance, the way there is in the bittersweet (actually more bitter than sweet), world-weary performance by the author, Leonard Cohen. All of these people who do it so "beautifully" actually water it down. It's all reverence and no defeat. Cohen himself called the "hallelujah" of the song "the ultimate defeat". "When everything is lost you finally can do nothing else but say 'hallelujah'". This is why the song is so misunderstood.

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for showing this beautiful performance.

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