About A Song: 'Hallelujah' : All Songs Considered I was at the Newport Folk Festival a few weeks ago, and onstage was Brandi Carlile, a stunning pre
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About A Song: 'Hallelujah'

I was at the Newport Folk Festival a few weeks ago, and onstage was Brandi Carlile, a stunning presence with an incredible voice. (We'll get that concert online for you a bit later.) Her encore was "Hallelujah," the Leonard Cohen song made famous by Jeff Buckley and covered by many artists since.

She belted it out, which was a far cry from Buckley's delicate version, but it was fairly jaw-dropping nonetheless. When it was done, someone said to me, "I love that song; what the hell is it about?"

Have you ever heard a song a hundred times, sung it in your head and never given any thought to what it means? Was Leonard Cohen writing about euphoria, elation, pain, suffering, exultation when he penned "Hallelujah"?

Here are a few versions. What do you think this song is about?

Leonard Cohen:

Jeff Buckley:

Rufus Wainwright:

Here are the many verses I know of this song; Buckley and others leave a few of them off.

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

Baby I have 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
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
But I remember when I moved in you
The holy dove she was moving too
And every breath we drew was 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 couldn't feel, so I tried (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

Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
And it's not a cry (complaint) that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah