Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

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DrHGuy
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Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby DrHGuy » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:34 pm

I would appreciate help in affirming or disputing references claiming Leonard Cohen has specifically bestowed his blessing on Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah." The problem is that none of these references direct the reader to a primary source, such as a print, radio, or TV interview with Cohen, the name of the person who overheard Cohen uttering the compliment, etc. I've been unable to track down a primary source through Google or other search engines. I've tried contacting the folks who made these references but they either don't provide email addresses or don't respond to my emails. I find the claims suspect (although proving a negative, while philosophically possible, seems unlikely in this case), but this may have more to do with my profoundly cynical world view than with Leonard Cohen's take on Buckley's cover of Hallelujah. If anyone can direct me to a valid source of the following references - or of any comment Cohen has actually made about Buckley's version of Hallelujah - I would be grateful.


1. Cathy Earnshaw's Amazon review of Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk
"even Leonard Cohen has said of Grace's Hallelujah, 'I wrote the lyrics, but it is definitely a Buckley song'"
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/cdp/member-r ... iew&page=2

2. Comment on post about a cover of "Ring of Fire"
"When Jeff played at the funeral of his father, Leonard Cohen was so moved that he permitted Jeff to cover his halleluja."
http://althouse.blogspot.com/2009/03/ad ... 0255191515
[Note: An often mentioned portion of the Jeff Buckley bio, of course, has to do with his feelings about not being invited to his father's funeral so this seems at least somewhat in error]

3. "Hallelujah - a song with a life of its own" - The Independent
"Buckley omits two of Cohen's redemptive verses; he called his version an ode to 'the hallelujah of an orgasm', even saying: 'I hope Leonard doesn't hear it.' He needn't have worried. Cohen has allegedly acknowledged it to be his favourite version."
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 52178.html
[Note: This claim, with or without the "allegedly," also appears in several posts, Myspace pages, etc]

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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby UrPal » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:49 pm

LC has often been generous in his praise of other artists covers of his songs. I wouldn't be surprised if he had made this comment at a certain time in a certain place. I'd be more surprised if it remained his fixed position if asked today.

I've heard him speak effusively about Rufus Wainwright's version when it was first presented on some radio show or other a few years back, which sort of implied he thought it was tops in that moment.

Since John Cale is a pal of sorts (or so I've heard it said), I assume he feels confident in "bigging up" more junior efforts whilst knowing that John's is the only one that comes close (and was the template from which the others took their cue) ;-)

Personally, I'm more surprised (shocked would be more appropriate) that he has said in the past he thinks Billy Joel "nailed" "Light As A Breeze" better than he did - not that I've heard Billy Joel's version, but I've heard enough Billy Joel :D
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby hydriot » Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:02 pm

I too would be surprised if Leonard ever nailed his colours to one particular mast or other. He is so supportive of all those who cover his songs.

Indeed, Leonard is so modest it wouldn't surprise me if he considered his opinion on the matter to be of no more importance than anybody else's.
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby Eskimo » Fri Mar 20, 2009 3:04 am

UrPal wrote:Personally, I'm more surprised (shocked would be more appropriate) that he has said in the past he thinks Billy Joel "nailed" "Light As A Breeze" better than he did - not that I've heard Billy Joel's version, but I've heard enough Billy Joel :D
....You may be right, I may be crazy....but I really do like Billy Joel's version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kakz1WnHL14
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby MaryB » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:36 am

I've always loved Billy Joel's version of 'Light as a Breeze' but, listening to the video makes me absolutely yearn to have LC perform it as part of this tour - 'please, baby, please'.

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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby UrPal » Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:23 pm

The Billy Joel version was rather as I expected...No, actually it was quite a lot worse. I expected an Elton John style piano number.

The YouTube video seems entirely appropriate. Not that I'm going to complain too much about that :D

I can see why Leonard might like it though. It has a Be For Real souliness about it that makes it a fit (and the gospel chorus gives it a lift and a big production feel).

I prefer the intimate and more personal approach of the LC original.

Thanks for posting the link, Eskimo.

Different strokes for different folks and all that.
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby Eskimo » Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:55 pm

UrPal wrote:.... I expected an Elton John style piano number....
....Lennie and the Jets?????....
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby lizzytysh » Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:24 pm

....Lennie and the Jets?????....
:lol:
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby tomsakic » Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:25 pm

Leonard praises EVERY cover of his songs.

Now, I wouldn't say that he privately likes some of them. Maybe Billy Joel, and John Cale's Hallelujah (and of course, Jenny sings Lenny LP), but I guess mostly he's just generous and polite and very diplomatic... for his own good:)
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby DrHGuy » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:31 am

To clarify, I agree that Leonard Cohen has consistently spoken positively of every cover of every song (as far as I know). Just now, I'm specifically interested in the recurring claims, offered with varying degrees of confidence but without any primary source, that he favors Buckley's version over the others. My hope was to discover the origins of these contentions, whether the final claims are accurate, distorted, or whatever.
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby tomsakic » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:16 pm

That's just PR. As far I know, LC always favoured Billy Joel's Light as the Breeze in the first place, and also Jennifer Warnes' CD from 1986, and in context of Hallelujah he praised John Cale's (first cover ever - he was the one to merge both versions), and in 2006 he liked kd lang's performance at Hall of Fame Gala show.

I *never* read that he praises Jeff Buckley; the repeated quotation was "Jeff Buckley it's a sad story" and how he also knew his father Tim Buckley. He spoke more about Kurt Cobain (how he maybe could save him if he get to speak to him before suicide). But I can't relate any other words from LC about Buckley, except if it was in 2008-09, during tour (I didn't followed last interviews at all; my last wide coverage of "what's published on Leonard" was Blue Alert and art exhibition in 2006-07).
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby DrHGuy » Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:28 am

That's helpful. thanks
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby tomsakic » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:28 pm

But I can ensure you that he didn't like Bono's Hallelujah, as nobody did 8) Only, he was polite enough not so say so as we all said here on the forum (I think it's most hated cover, Elton John's I'm Your Man coming to 2nd place.)

One Croatian journal once had a list of best "tribute" albums. Leonard's I'm Your Fan was at place #1 as "best tribute album of all time".
Funny thing was that Leonard's Tower of Song was at place #1 as "the worst tribute album ever". :roll:
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby somewhat_nifty » Tue Mar 24, 2009 4:56 pm

It would be interesting to get to the bottom of it, as I saw that claim all around the press over the winter. I also have a vested interest as I really really don't like Buckley's cover at all, even though I know it's many people's favourite version. Mind you, it still beats Bono's (just about).
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Re: Claims That Bucklely's Hallelujah Is Cohen's Favourite

Postby wyardley » Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:07 am

I was wondering the other day if he'd ever mentioned which cover version he preferred, and came across this thread... apparently I'm not the only one wondering.

The John Cale version (the live version on his career retrospective, not the studio one) was the first version of the song I ever heard, and maybe for this reason, it's always been one of my favorites, maybe my favorite. And I've always wondered how the two versions got put together, so that's really interesting information (and it means that Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright etc. were probably directly or indirectly influenced by this version).

I really enjoy Jeff Buckley's version too. The thing that I think is more sad is the over-use of the song, both in terms of the number of people covering it, and in terms of its use in films / TV shows (cough*Watchmen*cough).

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