Rufus Wainwright credits Leonard Cohen with providing him “a kind yet brutally strong nudge toward where I really ought to be heading”



Tweeted by Rufus Wainwright Nov 11, 2016

I had very few deeply personal experiences with Leonard, enough to count on one and a half hands…Like for most of us, for me he dwelled in a higher strata inhabited by some living but mostly passed icons who seemed to have this direct line to the galaxy, whilst at the same time knowing exactly when to take out the trash. But fortunately, I now covet these few personal moments…And credit them with grabbing hold and shifting the direction of the restless life my life has always taken. It was never a fundamental shift, just a kind yet brutally strong nudge toward where I really ought to be heading…Farewell Leonard, we need you now up there as much as we do down here.quotedown2

Rufus Wainwright

And He Covers Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

Performing in Mesa, AZ, Rufus Wainwright explained that his vow to abstain from singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah until Trump loses had been “trumped” by Leonard Cohen’s death.


Credit Due Department: Photo by Ben Coombs – Rufus Wainwright live At Rock Werchter, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons

Leonard Cohen On Conveying Irony In Songs Vs In Poems

Interviewer: It strikes me that there’s sometimes more irony in your songs than in your poems. I’m thinking of lines like ‘He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.’ The inflections in your singing voice convey a variety of different attitudes, and in some instances an attitude like irony comes through more clearly in the songs.

Yeah, I see what you mean. I think of Bob Dylan, who gets the inflections of street talk, the inflections of conversation, and does that with such mastery … where you can hear a little tough guy talking. You can hear somebody praying. You can hear somebody asking. You can hear somebody coming onto you. When you’re composing that material and you know that it’s going to occupy aural space, you can compose it with those inflections in mind. And of course it does invite irony because that irony can be conveyed with the voice alone whereas on the page you generally have to have a larger construction around the irony for it to come through. You can’t just write, ‘What’s it to ya? ‘ If you sing, ‘What’s it to ya?’ to some nice chords it really does sound like, ‘Well, what’s it to yah, baby?’ But,  just to see it written, it would need a location. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen as interviewed by Robert Sward. Montreal: 1984. Found at LeonardCohenFiles

Rufus Wainwright ‏To Abstain From Singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah Until Trump Loses


Tweeted by Rufus Wainwright ‏ @ rufuswainwright

Update: See Rufus perform Hallelujah, explaining that his vow to abstain from singing that song until Trump loses had been “trumped” by Leonard Cohen’s death. Rufus Wainwright credits Leonard Cohen’s with providing him “a kind yet brutally strong nudge toward where I really ought to be heading”

Videos: Bob Dylan Covers Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah Twice – Montreal & Los Angeles 1988


Leonard Cohen Sings “Hallelujah” To Bob Dylan

It’s a rather joyous song . I like very much the last verse. I remember singin’ it to Bob Dylan after his last concert in Paris. The morning after, I was having coffee with him and we traded lyrics. Dylan especially liked this last verse “And even though it all went wrong, I stand before the Lord of song With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen1

Of course, no post about Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and “Hallelujah” would be complete without the anecdote, a classic in Cohen’s repertoire, about the contrast in the time required by Dylan and Cohen to compose a song. The story appears in several Cohen interviews. The following iteration is from Leonard Cohen, Los Angeles 1992, a section of “Songwriters On Songwriting” by Paul Zollo:

That [“Hallelujah”] was a song that took me [Leonard Cohen] a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years.

Then I praise a song of his, “I and I,” and asked him how long it had taken and he said, “Fifteen minutes.” [Laughter]

Bob Dylan Sings “Hallelujah” To  Leonard Cohen’s Montreal

Dylan was one of the first artists to cover “Hallelujah,” performing it twice in his 1988 concert tour.. When Dylan’s Never Ending Tour came to Montreal in 1988, he performed “Hallelujah.” Dylan also sang it in Los Angeles on Aug 4, 1988.

Bob Dylan – Hallelujah
Montreal: July 8,  1988

Bob Dylan – Hallelujah
Hollywood: Aug 4, 1988


Credit Due Department: Photo of Dylan playing Barcelona in 1984 by Stoned59 – originally posted to Flickr as Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia

The Cohen-Dylan Interface

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s & Bob Dylan’s opinions of each other, their meetings, and comparisons by others can be found at

Note: Originally posted May 10, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. From 1985 interview published in Paroles et Musiques []

Video: Is “Hallelujah” Pop Culture’s Most Overplayed Song?

This video by Kevin B. Lee on Fandor Keyframe—aptly named “How Pop Culture Overplayed ‘Hallelujah’ ”—compiles some of the most notable times that pop culture used all of the song’s various covers. Lee’s video was inspired by Nick Murray’s article in the New York Times titled “How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ ” written as a reaction to Tori Kelly’s performance of the song during the In Memoriam sequence at the Emmy Awards in September.

Excerpted from Hallelujah Again By Madeline Raynor (Slate: 12 October 2016).

While the claim that “This Video Shows That ‘Hallelujah’ Is Pop Culture’s Most Overplayed Song” is hyperbole, the video does offer an entertaining group of versions of Hallelujah in TV and movie soundtracks.