Love Is Not Some Kind Of Victory March.

I need another URL.

A snappier, easier to locate URL.

I foresee this requiring effort on my part.

I may even have to inflict pain to acquire such a thing. Or funds. Or both.

We’ll see.

So I’ve been doing some trowling through Leonard Cohen clips on youtube today as I’ve had a bit of time on my hands at work– and what I keep finding myself returning to is the same old song.

Hallelujah.

I had heard in an interview with Cohen, some years ago now, and the origins of which I no longer seem to recall, where he mentioned that he wrote 82 verses to this song initially. Eighty-fucking-two verses. And in trailing through pages and pages of online matter I have grown entertained by how infuriated fans of his seem to be with his constant changing of the lyrics. This seems a strange thing to me to find irritating. Still, this little tid bit of trivia pleases me in some small, strange way.

So this song has obviously been heralded as a great number of different things. Vapid, musically trite, cloyingly saccharine, liturgical, etc. Nobody nails it quite like Jeff Buckley though when he refered to the tune as “a hallelujah to the orgasm.”

Nice one Jeff.

I think form is certainly the focus in this song. ‘Hallelujah,’ in its original version, is a song in 6:8 time which evokes both genres of waltz and gospel. Written in the key of C major, the chord progression follows the lyric “… it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift“: F, G, A minor, F.

Pretty clever really.

http://www.sheetmusic1.com/free.music.basics/technique/c.major.scale.study.gif

The song clearly contains several biblical references, most notably the adulterous stories of Samson  and Delilah from the Book of Judges, as well as King David and Bathsheba: “you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you”.

In re-reading these lyrics today I am beginning to wonder if Cohen wasn’t trying to make something beautiful out of a little old fashioned Jewish sexual guilt. I was very fond of the story of King David and Bathsheba as a child actuallyand often wondered why they– you know, they, the bible writing folk–  couldn’t come up with a more intriguing name than one that contained both the words ‘bath’ and ‘she.’ Anyway. It feels like formulaic story telling to me, something borrowed, something old.

The song, as you know, has also been covered by a number of artists from Jeff Buckley, of course, to Rufus Wainwright, KD Lang, and most recently Justin Timberlake on that bloody cheesy let’s-raise-money-for-Haiti-but- never-send-it-to-them telethon last weekend. 

I saw KD do the most stunning version of this song in the Hunter Valley vineyards year before last actually and it made me weep and want to be her friend. And maybe become a vegetarian.

I could say loads about this but what I’d actually rather do is hear from you how you play it. Something I find really challenging about a lot of Cohen’s songs is the way he manages to make something that is often so musically simple sound so bloody wise and detailed. It’s actually pretty easy to butcher this song in my opinion and oh my have I heard some meaty fuck ups in my time… Still, it’s arguably one of the simplest and most satisfying tablatures arrangements you might happen upon. I learned how to play this back in year 8 if I remember correctly, and it’s still a bit of a Coffey’s Christmas late night party favorite. Or so I tell myself.

Verse example:
G Em7 x2
e—–3-3—–3-3—-!
B—–3-3—–3-3—-!
G—–0-0—–0-0—!
D—0-0-0-0-2-2-2—!
A-2—2-2—–2-2—!
E—–3-3—–X-X—!

Chorus example:
C Em
e—–0-0—–0-0—-!
B—–1-1—–0-0—-!
G—–0-0—–0-0—!
D—0-2-2-2-0-2-2—!
A-2—3-3—–2-2—!
E—–X-X—–0-0—!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJTiXoMCppw

Hallelujah – Various Positions (1985), also live in 1985

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
that David played, and it pleased the Lord,
but you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
the minor fall, the major lift;
the baffled king composing Hallelujah!
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Hallelujah Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof.
You saw her bathing on the roof;
her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to a kitchen chair
she broke your throne, and she cut your hair,
and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah!
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Hallelujah Hallelujah

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!
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Hallelujah Hallelujah

I did my best; it wasn’t much.
I could’t feel, so I tried to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Hallelujah – Cohen Live (1994) – live tours 1988 and 1993

Baby, I’ve been here before.
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch,
but (listen) love is not some kind of victory march,
no, it’s a cold and it’s a very broken Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
(Hallelujah)

There was a time you let me know
what’s really going on below
(ah) but now you never show it to me, do you?
(But) I remember when I moved in you,
And the holy dove (she) was moving too,
[And] every single breath that we drew was Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Now] Maybe there’s a G-d above
As for me, all I’ve ever seemed to learn from love
is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
But it’s not a complaint that you hear tonight,
It’s not the laughter of someone who (claims to) have seen the light
no, it’s a cold and it’s a very lonely Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best; it wasn’t much.
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come (all this way) to fool you.
(And) Even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand (right here) before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

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