Laurence of Paris alerts us to this elegant tribute to Leonard Cohen at the 2017 Victoires de la Musique
At last night’s BAFTAs, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of BBC Young Musician of the Year 2016, played Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah while images of artists who died in the past year were displayed on the screen. This video captures an earlier performance of Hallelujah by the same artist.
Credit Due Department: Thanks to Clive Davies & Adrian du Plessis, who alerted me to this tribute. Photo by Stuart Chalmers
Perhaps the most convincing evidence that Hallelujah is the overwhelming favorite choice for indicating emotional significance in movies and television programs is a show making news by announcing that Leonard Cohen’s classic will NOT be used for an In Memoriam presentation. The following excerpt is from Inside Grammys Rehearsals: ‘I Hope It Will Be a Political Show,’ Producer Says by Steve Pond (The Wrap: Feb 10, 2017):
[Subtitle:] And Ken Ehrlich reveals why Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” will NOT play during In Memoriam segment
… And what about “Hallelujah,” the go-to song since that legendary songwriter’s passing in November? “I’d like to think that we’re kind of known for not doing things that are right on the money,” said Ehrlich. He declined to say that the song would never be heard, but said he had something else in the works for the In Memoriam montage.
“One Saturday I was listening to music and thinking about what we could do for In Memoriam, and ‘God Only Knows’ came on, and all of a sudden it hit me,” he said. “If you think of the words not in the context of lost love, but loss, it takes on a whole new meaning.
“So I went to John Legend and to Cynthia Erivo from [Broadway’s] ‘The Color Purple’ and said, ‘I’d like you to do the song out of tempo, slow.’ I’m telling you, it’s so beautiful. And yes, I’m sure some people will say, ‘Why didn’t they do “Hallelujah?”‘”
Credit Due Department: Photo by Dmileson, derivative work Dodro – Obra derivada: Ted Jensen’s 2002 Grammy.jpg, CC BY 4.0, via Wikipedia Commons
In reality, he was a guy who always meant everything he was singing but also knew where he fit into the pop world — and that wasn’t alongside Barbra Streisand in any lung-busting competition. So Cohen relied on other musical tools to put emotion across, which in 1984 meant a primitive Casio synthesizer that gave ‘Hallelujah’ all the atmosphere of a storefront church. And guess what? You compare his version now to the dozens of others that have sprung up since and Cohen’s feels the most desperate and alive by far.
From What did Leonard Cohen really mean when he sang ‘Hallelujah’? by Mikael Wood (LA Times: Nov 11, 2016). This is an especially well written, convincing article examining Leonard Cohen’s musical and lyrical construction of Hallelujah. Highly recommended.
Excerpt from How Leonard Cohen Helped Us After Losing Our Son To Heroin by Bill Williams (Addiction Unscripted):
Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” compelled me. I listened to it over and over and over, lying in bed with my laptop, listening first to a gravelly Leonard Cohen himself singing it, then testing the renditions of all the artists I could find. Sampling them all to distinguish comforting subtleties… Ultimately soothed by repetitions of K.D. Lang’s rich offering, my ritual continued in the two weeks leading up to William’s memorial service. I have no memory of when the rite tapered off. I do know that I come back to the music when I need to, even finding something about the hateful embrace of heroin in all of Cohen’s lyric, most especially: “… love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”
Read the complete article at the link.
That’s what it’s all about. It says that none of this – you’re not going to be able to work this thing out – you’re not going to be able to set – this realm does not admit to revolution – there’s no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say ‘Look, I don’t understand a fucking thing at all – Hallelujah! That’s the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.
The following description is from Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988 at the RTE site:
From the RTÉ archives: Kildare-born novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist and former RTÉ radio producer John MacKenna made two feature programmes in the RTÉ Radio Centre with Leonard Cohen in 1988, entitled ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’. Together, they offer a remarkable insight to Cohen’s life and work. Below, you can listen to them both in full. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)
Note: A transcript of this broadcast is available at Transcript: 1988 RTE (LeonardCohenFiles)
The first programme ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’ is entitled ‘Isaac to Joan of Arc’ in which Cohen discusses his interest in and attitude to heroic figures in history. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)
Programme 2 is entitled ‘If I Have Been Untrue’ and considers songs about people in the street. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)