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Legendary Composer Leonard Cohen, Composer of Song 'Hallelujah,' Dies at Age 82

( [email protected] ) Nov 12, 2016 09:34 AM EST
Canadian songwriter-singer Leonard Cohen, whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died Monday at the age of 82. He was a poet and artist who left the world the beloved song "Hallelujah," which appeared on his 1985 album "Various Positions," and was covered by 300-plus popular singers in the past 30 years. Many of his fans always thought he sang for the Lord. Canadian magazine Maclean's called the song "pop music's closest thing to a sacred text."
Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, singer-songwriter extraordinaire, died at age 82. He left us with the beloved song, "Hallelujah." Cohen performs during the first night of the 47th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland on July 4, 2013. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud/File Photo

Canadian songwriter-singer Leonard Cohen, whose work spanned nearly 50 years, died Monday at the age of 82. He was a poet and artist who left the world the beloved song "Hallelujah," which appeared on his 1985 album "Various Positions," and was covered by 300-plus popular singers in the past 30 years. Many of his fans always thought he sang for the Lord. Canadian magazine Maclean's called the song "pop music's closest thing to a sacred text."

Cohen's label, Sony Music Canada, issued a statement, indicating "one of music's most revered and prolific visionaries" has been lost. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date.

Hallelujah apparently was a song that nearly didn't make it into public. In the early 1980s, Leonard Cohen sat on the floor of a New York hotel room, and remembered "banging my head on the floor and saying, 'I can't finish this song.'" He had been working on it for years, reports The Washington Post.

The once Zen Buddist monk originally wrote 80 verses for the song before trimming down to five.

According to Cohen's biography "I'm Your Man," the song eventually took him five years to write, a fact that embarrassed him so much he later passed over the timeframe in a conversation with Bob Dylan.

Since the song's release, it has been covered by other popular artists, such as Willie Nelson and the Nobel Prize-winning Bob Dylan. In 2010, K.D. Lang performed it at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, in Vancouver. Bono, Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris, Neil Diamond and Jake Shimabukuro all have versions of it.

In typical Cohen tradition, he had considered two different endings:

The lighter one:

Even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song

With nothing on my tongue but
Hallelujah

The darker one:

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 that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Cohen's producer, John Lissauer, said everyone in the room was stunned when he finished recording the song. "This is a standard. This is an important song. This is special,'" Lissauer said.

Cohen's final lyrics follow:

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 her
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 couldn'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

 

 

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