The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’

Leonard Cohen. Image by Rama. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.
Leonard Cohen. Image by Rama. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

“At a time when everything has fragmented so dramatically, it’s sort of heartening to see that this song can connect as universally as it did”

-Alan Light

Cohen labored over “Hallelujah,” filling a notebook with some 80 verses before recording. The song has Biblical references, but Cohen’s stated goal was to give a nonreligious context to hallelujah, an expression of praise. Some of those hallelujah moments are clearly sexual, given a lyric like “she tied you to a kitchen chair … and from your lips she drew the hallelujah.” The author’s droll humor is present throughout in lines like “you don’t really care for music, do you?”

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