The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
chili
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The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby chili » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:55 pm

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

The has created a few discussions....what do think it means?
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kwills
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby kwills » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:07 pm

I think he's telling us that what he has learned from love is hurt and heartbreak, and when he uses the line "Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you" he is saying hurt them first before they hurt you.
God may mean love and peace,but from what he has learned from experience, love has left him lonely and cold.
Someone else who is more articulate than I am can probably answer you better.
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GinaDCG
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby GinaDCG » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:13 pm

It's the whole love means vulnerable, but I don't want to be vulnerable, I just want to "win" attitude towards romance. I want all the thrills of being in love, but none of the risks. You catch my eye, I do some active flirting, then I've got you where I want you: you have gone under for me and I get to choose to accept or reject you. It's this quid pro quo thing which runs through nearly all of our first stabs at relationships.

Sadly, there are many out there who think that a loving relationship with G-d works the same way: they bargain and trade: I'll do this, or pray that if You cause this or that to go my way. They think a relationship with G-d is a "reward" for diligence or some self-defined sacrifice - i.e., a bargain. But, "It's not a cry you can hear at night/ And it's not some pilgrim who's seen the light." Because (to borrow another Cohen line) here on this broken earth we have to reach the unknowably sacred and the inexpressible divine through the framework of our mundane, earth-bound existence. "We (have to fight) against the bottle/ But (we have) to do it drunk."

"No, it's a cold and it is a broken hallelujah!" The perfect hallelujah can not possibly be voiced here on earth. If you love you are vulnerable, you are broken, and you are not and never could be a "winner" by the world's definition. The only legitimate hallelujah comes from the realization that the genuine ones are, by necessity, cold and broken and inadequate.

But we're called to sing this anyway. In the last verse: "And even though it all went wrong/ I'll stand right here before the Lord of Song/ With nothing on my tongue/ But Hallelujah!"

-- my two cents.
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kwills
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby kwills » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:55 pm

See, I told you someone more articulate than I could explain it better!
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chili
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby chili » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:09 pm

I think both responses are awesome...thank you...I love to hear different perspectives.
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby John Etherington » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:54 pm

kwills - I pretty much agree with your interpretation, here. It should be noted, yet again, that the real words are "how to shoot at someone who outdrew you".
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hydriot
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby hydriot » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:52 am

... yes, the point being that Leonard never suggested you can actually hit someone who has already outdrawn you; it's more a gesture of defiance.
“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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lightasabreeze
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby lightasabreeze » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:34 pm

I think both explanations are perfect. It is just that one is more detailed. Thanks.
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remote1
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby remote1 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:41 pm

Sorry to chip in; this is only slightly off topic, but I have been wondering what people make of:

"She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah"

I understand the background allusions to the myths of David and Goliath and Samson and Delilah, but in the light of the recent thread on the Master Song and in particular the article which was referred to here viewtopic.php?f=9&t=20471&start=15#p210520, I can't help but think that this is describing a BDSM scene. In which case it would be particularly funny to consider how this song has recently become SO mainstream, and to think how so many people are unknowingly singing words which describe a practice which is still generally regarded as taboo/devious. I think it is part of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony or something. I find that hilarious!

Or am I just sick? :oops:
Let me know your diagnosis! :D

PS: I can't re-read the whole article right now so I am not sure whether these particular lines are mentioned in it or not.
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby GinaDCG » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:53 pm

Thanks Kwillls et al, for any and all compliments. I'll eat up every single one (with a happy burp to myself.)

When I was first immersing myself (and everyone who rode in a car with me) into Cohen-land, I asked my husband what he thought about this "kitchen chair" line. "Yep, that's what you women do," he answered with a side-long smile. "You take away our bachelor freedom, we lose the strength of our youth, and, though we told ourselves we didn't want to be 'tied down' in marriage, we actually love being married."
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remote1
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby remote1 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:51 pm

Ok, so either I have a twisted mind or your husband is very pure... :D
"We are so lightly here"
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kwills
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby kwills » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:34 pm

remote1 wrote:Ok, so either I have a twisted mind or your husband is very pure... :D

Heh!Heh!Heh! You've got a twisted mind remote1! :lol:
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remote1
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby remote1 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:35 pm

Oh well, it makes my life more entertaining! :lol:
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kwills
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby kwills » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:45 pm

Quote from GinaDCG
"When I was first immersing myself (and everyone who rode in a car with me) into Cohen-land, I asked my husband what he thought about this "kitchen chair" line. "Yep, that's what you women do," he answered with a side-long smile. "You take away our bachelor freedom, we lose the strength of our youth, and, though we told ourselves we didn't want to be 'tied down' in marriage, we actually love being married"

I agree with what you say for most of your quote Gina,but the impression I got was that he wasn't happy being in a commited relationship,or marriage,maybe it's because I still have the image of a broken Hallelujah in my mind.
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Steven
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Re: The meaning behind of 5th verse of Hallelujah

Postby Steven » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:05 am

Hi Chili,

The learning he's taken is an unhelpful one (except, we can infer, that its recognition has brought about
an expression of "hallelujah"). To shoot after someone has gotten off the first shot isn't the most
viable means of self-defense. And there's no statement in this verse about preventing the shootout
or overcoming the aftermath of love gone wrong. The "maybe" in terms of God being above, may
be expessing a feeling that love isn't flowing from there as a support down here, or even as an
instructive model for supposedly loving relationships. A cold and broken hallelujah is still positive.
It's even Job-like (the biblical character). Did we just contribute to a school assignment? :)

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