Chass (sapphires13) wrote in u2,

  • Mood:
  • Music:
And now for something completely different... I mulled over doing this song as my next SOTD several days ago, and even as soon ago as an hour, I began having doubts about it, and tried convincing myself to do a different song, fearing I wouldn't have enough to say about this song. But, as longwinded as I can be, I ultimately decided I'd find plenty to say.

"Hallelujah" from Tower of Song: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen

Not a U2 song, not even a U2 cover, this is a Bono cover. Does that still count? It hasn't been covered as a SOTD yet, and I figure it's about time I did something unique, so why not?

This is Bono's Numb, so to speak, this is Bono monotonously reciting lyrics. The cover is from 1995, and you may recognize Bono's low, sexy, gravelly, whispery voice from other songs from the Passengers-Pop era, like Your Blue Room and If You Wear That Velvet Dress, the difference is, while in those versions he's hitting notes and sort of singing, in Hallelujah, he's simply reciting. Unlike Numb though, he's not deadpanning, Bono recites this song as though reciting poetry.
The music is somewhat unimportant. We have this repetitive tribal beat throughout the entire song, and that strange brass wavering in and out. There's not really a tune, just a rhythm, and there really doesn't need to be. All we need is that beat and Bono's voice. It brings to mind a clichéd beatnik poetry club, dark and smoky, with some guy in a beret playing the bongos while Bono stands and quietly recites. While the music is mostly unimportant, something about it creates a sort of creepy intensity.
At this point, I should probably point some things out. Bono is using Leonard Cohen's orignal 1984 lyrics. Cohen recorded this song twice, first in 1984, and again in 1988. The second time, he used an alternate set of lyrics (some were still the same though). The original lyrics are full of biblical and religious imagery, the song is somewhat of a prayer. The 1988 lyrics were changed to reflect a more worldy interpretation of the song, there were still religious undertones, but the song became more about a relationship between a man and a woman. (I should also probably note that most covers use a combination of the 1984 and 1988 lyrics. This combination was first used in John Cale's 1991 cover, and later by Jeff Buckley (1994) and Rufus Wainwright (2001), among others.)
While Bono is using the original, and somewhat more overtly religious lyrics, he still manages to make it sexy. It's as though he's whispering in your ear, and at some points, his voice sounds a bit strained, as though he's running out of breath, or just somewhat emotionally overcome (particularly the last syllable of the "Hallelujah" at the end of the third verse).
And thus far, I haven't mentioned the chorus. While the verses are recited, Bono pulls out his falsetto and sings the "Hallelujah"s in his "fat lady" voice. I normally like his falsetto, but it's sort of warbled here, and it just seems a bit strange here, especially in contrast to the deep recitation of the verses. Also, I've noticed that during the final Hallelujah choruses at the end of the song, Bono's voice seems to be layered over other "Hallelujah"s, they could quite possibly be part of the chorus from Cohen's original version, but I can't be sure.
Overall? I like it, I suppose. It's different, that's for sure. I really like the song itself, and have for a long time, even before I cared anything about U2 or Bono. My favourite version is Jeff Buckley's (most of my friends like Rufus Wainwright's, but I think the tempo on that one is much too fast, and I can't figure out why Wainwright's in such a hurry O_o), and I would've much preferred something similar from Bono. There's probably little chance he'll cover it again, but I'd love to hear Bono actually singing the song, maybe even with the rest of U2 playing the music (the actual music, rather than the creepy "music" we got with this version).

I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played to please 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 composed 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, she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

You say I took the Name in vain
Well 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

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I learned to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

Now maybe there's a God above
But all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
And it's no complaint you hear tonight
It's not some pilgrim who's seen the light
It's a cold and broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

Favourite lyrics:
And even though all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah

That's somewhat inspiring to me.

YouSendIt link
  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for members only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded