"A venerated creator. An adored, tragic interpreter. An
uncomplicated, memorable melody. Ambiguous, evocative words. Faith
and uncertainty. Pain and pleasure."
Today, "Hallelujah" is one of the most-performed rock songs in
history. It has become a staple of movies and television shows as
diverse as Shrek and The West Wing, of tribute
videos and telethons. It has been covered by hundreds of artists,
including Bob Dylan, U2, Justin Timberlake, and k.d. lang, and it
is played every year at countless events-both sacred and
secular-around the world.
Yet when music legend Leonard Cohen first wrote and recorded
"Hallelujah," it was for an album rejected by his longtime record
label. Ten years later, charismatic newcomer Jeff Buckley
reimagined the song for his much-anticipated debut album,
Grace. Three years after that, Buckley would be dead, his
album largely unknown, and "Hallelujah" still unreleased as a
single. After two such commercially disappointing outings, how did
one obscure song become an international anthem for human triumph
and tragedy, a song each successive generation seems to feel they
have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own?
Through in-depth interviews with its interpreters and the key
figures who were actually there for its original recordings,
acclaimed music journalist Alan Light follows the improbable
journey of "Hallelujah" straight to the heart of popular culture.
The Holy or the Broken gives insight into how great songs
come to be, how they come to be listened to, and how they can be
A fascinating account of the making, remaking, and unlikely popularizing of one of the most played and recorded rock songs in historyNLeonard Cohen's beautiful and heartrending "Hallelujah."