This post was originally supposed to be about one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, Jeff Buckley. However, as the days passed I began to notice that one of the songs that he was known for was getting a lot of attention. The song is "Hallelujah". Originally written and performed by Leonard Cohen in 1984, "Hallelujah" has taken a life of its own. So many musicians have performed this song since its release that every interpretation brings new life & meaning to the song. However, Leonard Cohen's original version stands out because of the lyrics. With references to David, Samson, and lyrics like "I'll stand before the Lord of song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah", this version is probably the most religious.
While the original version is amazing, the cover that most people know is Jeff Buckley's. For his cover, Jeff went with John Cale's version (released in 1991) as opposed to Leonard Cohen's original. The new version kept the first two verses, but swapped the final verses for more sensual, erotic lyrics. This transformed the song from a somewhat religious piece into one about the intimate love between two people. Couple these lyrics with Jeff's performance and you have a song that's both spiritual and romantic.
Countless artists went on to cover "Hallelujah" after Jeff Buckley's version became a massive hit. Of all the covers that I've heard of this song however, Justin Timberlake's version is my favorite (after Jeff Buckley's of course). Justin performed this song with Matt Morris in the Hope For Haiti benefit concert in 2010. While the lyrics remained the same, this version doesn't have the sensual feel of Buckley's cover. Instead, this feels redemptive. Enjoy.