You’re well known for covering “Hallelujah” at a tempo that defined future versions of it—the pace people identify it with.
Leonard’s tempo was much slower than mine. There were 15 verses, so it took a really long time to sit through a performance with Leonard. He was always very stately with it. I took it at the speed I could make sense of the words, because really that’s what makes it in the end. Can you grab people’s attention and hold it?
How did you decide you wanted to cover his song? Was it just for the I’m Your Fan compilation?
I remember hearing it when I went to see a Dylan concert at The Beacon, and he was on in the first half and sang the song, and I thought, ‘That’s really a catchy chorus.’ I really liked it. Then I forgot about it until the people at Les Inrockuptibles called up and said they were doing an album of his stuff, and did I want to sing one of his songs? I mean, I knew all the other songs. But I had to trim down the 15 verses on this one to verses I identified with, because a lot of them are pretty religious, and I don’t have much credibility talking about religion.
From Interview: John Cale Shares His Life Story by Cassie Marketos. Self-titled Magazine: February 21st, 2013. The entire article, an intriguing read, is available at the link.
Credit Due Department: Photo by Hreinn Gudlaugsson – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikipedia
Note: Originally posted Jun 16, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric