Saturday, 19 September 2009

Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen - Versions exploration

Most versions seem to begin with this verse

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 ya?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

This verse is a reference to the Book of Samuel with David who is, as well as a nifty fighter, a mean harpist. His "secret chord" that "pleased the Lord" is enough to release an evil spirit from Saul, the man he is shortly to succeed as king. See: Whose Hallelujah is it anyway
Most versions also seem to follow along with this next verse:

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

The story of David continues for the first half of this second verse (above). Having saved Saul from the evil spirit, David spies the beautiful Bathsheba "bathing on the roof" and gets her pregnant. However, in the article linked above, Alan Connor, goes on to point out how half way through this verse, the story being related changes completely to that of Sampson and Delilah from the Book of Judges... Ok on to verse 3 .... Well verse 3 in some versions. Cohen actually recorded one version that starts from here. (Maybe he got bored of all the bible references?)

Baby (some versions say "Maybe") I've been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
But love is not a victory march
It's a cold and very lonely Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Enough said, I think.

There was a time you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do ya?
Remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Yep, ok.

It's at this point that versions diverge.
In one version it all ends up rather depressing (although not of course because it's Cohen) ...


Maybe there's a God above
But all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew ya;
It's not a cry you hear at night
It's not someone who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

However there's another version with a much more optimistic conclusion...

You say I took your name in vain
But I don't even know the name
And if I did, well really, what's it to ya?
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 ya;
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
etc.


Cohen is variously reported to have written anything up to 80 verses.
If anyone has access to any more of them, I would be ever so pleased if you would post them in the comments or email me.
Be great to hear what else this song gets up to!




The link below is a recent live performance by Cohen in London which the recording industry (who pay for their yachts and private jets out of your iTune dollars) won't let me embed. Leonard Cohen performs Hallelujah live in London 2009

Thursday, 10 September 2009

instructions for a body - Marty McConnell

Marty McConnell's web site is here

Snippet from instructions for a body
by Marty "Do not let this universe regret you" McConnell 2005.
I'm not going to reproduce the whole thing in case someone minds me doing that.
Although would love it if Marty would call me and give me permission. 8-)
Hopefully she will forgive me just these few lines.

I found a full text version of the poem here but not sure how much longer it is going to be up there for.

Below the text in any case you can hear her say the whole thing on YouTube (twice).

instructions for a body
praise the miracle body: the odd
and undeniable mechanics of hand,
hundred-boned foot, perfect stretch
of tendon

tell me there are no gods then,
no master plans for this anatomy
with its mobile and evident spark

someone says “children of light”
and another, “goddessfragment” and
another, “chosen” / a dozen makers,
myriad paths, one goal:

some scalpel, some chisel, some crazed
sentimental engineer giving rib, giving
eyelash, giving gut and thumb --

all mattering. all set down
in a going world, vulnerable
and divine

in the beginning was the word.

[...]



Or this is an alternative version:




Addendum
Thank you so much Marty (see the comments for this post) for graciously giving me permission to reproduce the whole of this poem.
I've been reciting this to loads of people, and it keeps moving me deeply each time.
I especially like the lines I have emboldened below.

instructions for a body

praise the miracle body: the odd
and undeniable mechanics of hand,
hundred-boned foot, perfect stretch
of tendon

tell me there are no gods then,
no master plans for this anatomy
with its mobile and evident spark

someone says “children of light”
and another, “goddessfragment” and
another, “chosen” / a dozen makers,
myriad paths, one goal:

some scalpel, some chisel, some crazed
sentimental engineer giving rib, giving
eyelash, giving gut and thumb --

all mattering. all set down
in a going world, vulnerable
and divine

in the beginning was the word.

or before time there was a void
until a voice said “I” and was

or there was star and dust,
explosion and animal, mineral, us::

praise the veins that river these wrists
praise the prolapsed valve in a heart
praise the scars marking a gall bladder absent
praise the rasp and rattle of functioning lungs
praise the pre-arthritic ache of elbows
and ankles
praise the lifeline sectioning a palm
praise the photographic pads of fingertips
praise the vulnerable dip at the base of a throat
praise the muscles surfacing on an abdomen
praise these arms that carry babies
and anthologies
praise the leg hairs that sprout
and are shaved
praise the ass that refuses to shrink
or be hidden
praise the cunt that bleeds
and accepts, bleeds
and accepts
praise the prominent ridge
of nose
praise the strange convexity of ribcage
praise the single hair that insists on growing
from a right areola
praise the dent where the mole was clipped from the back
of a neck
praise these inner thighs brushing
praise these eyelashes that sometimes turn inward
praise these hips preparing to spread
into a grandmother’s skirt
praise the beauty of the freckle
on the first knuckle of a left little finger

we're gone / in a blizzard of seconds
love the body human
while we're here, a gift of minutes
on an evolving planet, a country
in flux / give thanks

what we take for granted, bone and dirt
and the million things that will kill us
someday, motion and the pursuit
of happiness / no guarantees / give thanks

for chaos theory, ecology, common sense that says
we are web. a planet in balance or out, the butterfly
in tokyo setting off thunderstorms in iowa,
tell me you don't matter to a universe that conspired
to give you such a tongue, such rhythm
or rhythmless hips, such opposable thumbs –
give thanks or go home a waste of spark

speak or let the maker take back your throat
march or let the creator rescind your feet
dream or let your god destroy your good and fertile mind


this is your warning / this
your birthright / do not let
this universe regret you.


© Marty McConnell, 2005
Thank you to Marty for permission to reproduce this!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

There's something lost but something gained in living every day

Both Sides Now
~Joni Mitchell~

Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere,
I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done,
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
When every fairy tale comes real,
I've looked at love that way
But now it's just another show,
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care don't let them know,
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say, "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
I've looked at life that way
But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
There's something lost but something gained
In living every day


I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all









































Please tell me in the comments if there are any YouTube covers of this I have missed that you particularly like. 8-) (or other media sites not YouTube)