Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

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Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby Keajo on Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:59 pm

I've read various places that there were in fact 15 verses written by Cohen for 'Hallelujah'. Is this true? I've spent a great many hours searching for a place to read all the verses but I have come up with nothing. I already know of the eight recorded verses, but what of the other seven?

I'd be very thankful for any help at all given to me. All I'd like is to read them.

Thank you.
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Postby Purple on Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:30 pm

I am also searching for the rest of the verses. the 7 I have so far are:

I heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the lord
But you don't really care for music, do you
Well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah

Well 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 her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah

Baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
But love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah

Well, maybe there's a god above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
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

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 you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah


It would be much appreciated if anyone has any of the missing 8
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Postby tomsakic on Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:42 am

Purple, I don't know which version you have - the order of verses isn't Leonard's.

If there ever was 15 verses, it was never published. The main confusion is that Leonard performed first version of Hallelujah in 1985 (Various Positions, world tour), and then new, second version on 1988 and 1993 tours (which was released on Cohen Live in 1994). First version was repeated on The Essential Leonard Cohen (2002), while second (from Cohen Live) was repeated on More Best Of (1997). So there's many people around hearing only one of those versions by Leonard, and thinking that Jeff Buckley wrote other verses.

Leonard never performed both versions merged into one - that was done by John Cale. He heard new Hallelujah in 1988 show and asked Leonard for ALL verses and Leonard faxed the lyrics to him. Cale then organised verses, sung them live for years, and made studio version for I'm Your Fan tribute album. That version was covered by Jeff Buckley. After that, many performers are doing Cale version (via Buckley's) or omitting some verses etc. Also, sparse piano sound comes from Cale's arrangements; Leonard always did it with full band orchestrations (even, it's known that he was very keen about the chorus, trying to achieve "the sound of Jewish choir", as he said to one journalist in early 80s).

Later, Leonard published Hallelujah in Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs as Version 1 + "Additional Verses" (3 new ones from Cohen Live). So, the additional verses were put in various orders by various performes who covered it.

Hallelujah - Various Positions (1985), also live in 1985

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 you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
the minor fall, the major lift;
the baffled king composing Hallelujah!
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Hallelujah 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, and she cut your hair,
and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah!
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Hallelujah Hallelujah


You say I took the Name in vain;
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
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 you.
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
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah



Hallelujah - Cohen Live (1994) - live tours 1988 and 1993

Baby, I’ve been here before.
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch,
but (listen) love is not some kind of victory march,
no, it’s a cold and it’s a very broken Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
(Hallelujah)


There was a time you let me know
what’s really going on below
(ah) but now you never show it to me, do you?
(But) I remember when I moved in you,
And the holy dove (she) was moving too,
[And] every single breath that we drew was Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Now] Maybe there’s a G-d above
As for me, all I’ve ever seemed to learn from love
is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
But it’s not a complaint that you hear tonight,
It’s not the laughter of someone who (claims to) have seen the light –
no, it’s a cold and it’s a very lonely Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, 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 (all this way) to fool you.
(And) Even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand (right here) before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah



The lines above were transcribed from CDs (minor differences when compared to the booklets). I don't have Stranger Music with me, so I can't retype Leonard's published and final version.
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Postby Manna on Fri Feb 09, 2007 10:38 am

I know that when LC first wrote this, he figured that if he was going to use a word like Halelujiah, that he needed to have some religious references to earn it. But then I think he realized that "it doesn't matter which you heard," and he rewrote it as a more secular piece. That's my understanding. I don't know how many verses he wrote in total, but I'm pretty sure I've heard more than what's posted here. Aren't there more verses somewhere about sex?
In a dark corner of nowhere
I am twisting my dunce cap like a gyre
into the hurricane of foretold lunacy.
- Leo Victor Briones
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Postby tomsakic on Fri Feb 09, 2007 12:38 pm

These are all ylrics used by Leonard, I don't believe there's others used by artists who covered it as they all used Cale/Buckley versions.

I found only this reference to 15 verses, from John Cale:

After I saw him perform at the Beacon I asked if I could have the lyrics to “Hallelujah”. When I got home one night there were fax paper rolls everywhere because Leonard had insisted on supplying all 15 verses. Nobody recognises my version but I always save that song until the end of the set. He and I were chasing after the same woman in London for a time. I called him one morning and she answered – and that was that. It didn’t matter that Cindy was my wife.
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Postby lizzytysh on Fri Feb 09, 2007 3:41 pm

It's funny, the visceral responses and physiological reactions we have.
As I scrolled up, I just caught a glimpse of "Baby, I’ve been here before . . . " and it all flooded in... his voice and the sound of it all... and I felt a catch in my breath.


~ Lizzy
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Postby Beccka on Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:44 pm

Tom Sakic wrote:These are all ylrics used by Leonard, I don't believe there's others used by artists who covered it as they all used Cale/Buckley versions.

I found only this reference to 15 verses, from John Cale:

... He and I were chasing after the same woman in London for a time. I called him one morning and she answered – and that was that. It didn’t matter that Cindy was my wife.


This story will make me grin all day.
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Re: Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby Wolf on Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:25 am

Can we get a hold of John Cale somehow to get these 15 verses...? It is (one of the) most beautiful song(s) ever recorded. Cale's live versions are second best, great, but we must get the 15/V text...!!!

// Wolf :!: :!: :!:
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Re: Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby tim2008 on Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:47 pm

Keajo wrote:I've read various places that there were in fact 15 verses written by Cohen for 'Hallelujah'. Is this true? I've spent a great many hours searching for a place to read all the verses but I have come up with nothing. I already know of the eight recorded verses, but what of the other seven?

I'd be very thankful for any help at all given to me. All I'd like is to read them.

Thank you.


You're infact wrong as in a recent interview Leonard Cohen revealed there are atleat 80 verses or more. He filled 2 notebooks over a space of 2 years and then shortened it to 6 verses to be recorded in 1984.

Just thought you'd might like to know
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Re: Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby hydriot on Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:52 am

tim2008 wrote:You're infact wrong as in a recent interview Leonard Cohen revealed there are atleat 80 verses or more. He filled 2 notebooks over a space of 2 years and then shortened it to 6 verses to be recorded in 1984.

Just thought you'd might like to know


If John Cale has said he received 15 verses then I am inclined to believe him. That Leonard shortened the song to six verses for his own personal use doesn't mean he destroyed the others. Since he has always been so generous about letting others sing his songs, it is entirely in his character that he would fax the top 15 verses even if he himself had decided to sing only six of them.

Yes, I think asking John Cale if he still has the other verses filed away somewhere would be well worth the stamp.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
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Re: Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby dejahmi on Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:36 pm

i wonder - if he made a recent reference in an interview to there being 80 verses, does that mean he just keeps writing them? that could explain the discrepancy from Cale's 15. wouldn't that be amazing - if it is a song that just keeps growing and changing? oh, i hope so... and i hope he publishes it someday. i'd buy that book. i can imagine that it is true - i know as i write songs, i frequently catch myself writing lyrics to the that rhythm and melody. i can't help it - it seems like it has become a background in my psyche - almost like my own heartbeat.

can anyone post a link to this this recent interview?
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Re: Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby 51Cards on Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:28 am

hydriot wrote:If John Cale has said he received 15 verses then I am inclined to believe him. That Leonard shortened the song to six verses for his own personal use doesn't mean he destroyed the others. Since he has always been so generous about letting others sing his songs, it is entirely in his character that he would fax the top 15 verses even if he himself had decided to sing only six of them.


My understanding was that John Cale said he received 15 PAGES of verses... not 15 verses. Considering how short they are I could see 5 or 6 fitting on a single page. I have heard it mentioned that there are 80 verses written over 2 years. Considering it was WELL over 2 years between when the song was written and the first cover, all of the verses would have existed at the time the lyrics were first requested.
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Re: Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby pink_is_dead on Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:31 am

I would do anything to get a peek on just a couple more verses of hallelujah. Not to mention 15 pages of verses more. Seriously we should do something. The truth is out there.
Strangers passing in the street,
by chance to seperate glances meet,
and I am you and what I see is me.
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Re: Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby IMM on Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:30 am

If you think of the correct number of hallelujahs per 'chorus' as 2 squared = 4, then, if they are really verses, and not just a chorus, there are 15 ;)
Leaving the chorus out of it, one could, of course, always get 14 verses by cutting each verse in half, and then placing the chorus after every second one.
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Re: Fifteen 'Hallelujah' verses?

Postby LisaLCFan on Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:02 am

Yes, it would be really cool if Leonard were to publish all of his unsing lyrics (or at least, those that he likes and would like to share)! And I know he has a lot, because he says these things in interviews about writing all these verses, like Closing Time also apparently has dozens of verses. Everytime I hear of him saying these things, I almost salivate thinking about the lyrical treasures he has in his many notebooks! (And, for another example, just recently, this past fall on his tour, almost every time he sang Feels So Good, he sang different verses! Who knows which ones he'll choose for the final product? Or for future concerts...). I would happily buy any book of verse by Leonard Cohen, and how marvellous it would be if I could sing them to a familiar tune!
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