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?”

Click here to read the full article at Huffington Post…

Click here to purchase Alan Light’s new book at



All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy
Beg, borrow or steal.
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.
All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.
All that is now
All that is gone
All that’s to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

Pink Floyd, Eclipse

Political Songwriting Revival

Driving to church last Sunday, I heard a new song on the radio called ‘I Get By’.  The artist is Everlast.  Here’s the video:

What struck me about this song is how similar the feel and content is to the old folk tunes by people like Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie.  Their work was edgy and controversial.  It spoke directly from and to the experience of marginalization.  Compare the Everlast song to these:

The only place where consciously political songwriting has maintained any kind of presence is in hip hop.  Nas is my favorite.  Check it out:

Finally, just because I can’t resist getting theological, here’s one last comparison.  The language is rough and offensive, but there are some pertinent insights, if you have ears to hear: