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  • Writer's pictureTight Spine

Behind the Lyrics: One of Bob's Favorites - Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

While running years ago, I listened to the podcast Revisionist History episode #7 (http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/07-hallelujah). I learned that Bob Dylan (one of my favorite favorite favorites) and Leonard Cohen had a revealing conversation years ago about Leonard's most famous song, Hallelujah. It's a great podcast and I've shared it multiple times with friends. I hope you take the time to enjoy it.


The song was first published in 1984 on the album Various Positions. It's been covered many times and you can line up hours of versions using YouTube to play until your ears bleed. If you've not heard of it, you may want to check your pulse. Wiki can help you find a few notable versions, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallelujah_(Leonard_Cohen_song).


Here, you'll find the lyrics and the citations for the bible verses he drew from to write it. In all fairness to Leonard, the New Testament references may or not be what he was pulling from as a Cohen, however... they do fit. In addition, there are many versions of the lyrics. And, as said elsewhere, there are many Hallelujahs. Which, I think is a perfect description for both this song and for all the hallelujahs ever expressed.


My own praise has been largely influenced on the seasons and circumstances of my life. Some were sung with empty hands and vacant eyes, my heart and mind numbed by loss, when God seemed the farthest away from me. Others I sang while wiping away tears of joy... because He felt so close and I felt so blessed.


It's strange though. The moments I remember most clearly were those where I felt like my world was collapsing in on me, where all that I could lay in the offering plate were my tears. Looking back I see that He was there, in the middle of my storms - and those are the moments when I can see now that I was sitting in His lap trying hard not to fall apart.


These differences in seasons just might explain why it took Lenny so long to write his. What a gorgeous song. I can't wait to see Leonard giving it everything he's got in the choir.


Now, I've heard there was a secret chord That David played, and it pleased the Lord1 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 Hallelujah2 Hallelujah x 4

Your faith was strong but you needed proof You saw her bathing on the roof3 Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya She tied you to a kitchen chair4 She broke your throne, and she cut your hair5 And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah Hallelujah x 4

You say I took the name in vain6 I don't even know the name7 But if I did, well really, what's it to you? There's a blaze of light in every word8 It doesn't matter which you heard The holy or the broken Hallelujah9 Hallelujah x 4 I did my best, it wasn't much10 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 Song11 With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah12 Hallelujah x 18

Source: LyricFind

Songwriter: Leonard Cohen


1 - 1 Samuel 16:14-23

2 - Psalm 22

3 - 2 Samuel 11-12

4 - Judges 16:10-13

5 - Judges 16:16-20

6 - Exodus 20:7

7 - 1 Kings 8:29 (Hashem)

8 - Psalm 119:105

9 - Revelation 19:3 and Psalm 51

10 - Romans 3:23

11 - Psalm 40:3

12 - Revelation 19:6-9


There are a ton of interpretations of this song. For me, it describes all the things that get in the way of us having an authentic experience with our Creator. This world is full of distraction.


Stream of consciousness/Randomness:

#1 - Leonard Nimoy and Leonard Cohen look a lot alike

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