Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer/songwriter/poet/novelist, wrote a masterpiece that would become one of the most recorded songs in modern times. The song “Hallelujah” was first recorded by Cohen in 1984 on his album “Various Positions,” but received very little airplay. It wasn’t until Welsh singer John Cale recorded it in 1991 that it became as popular as it is today.
Cale’s version inspired a young Jeff Buckley to record it for his “Grace” album, which saw the song become an overnight hit. It was used in the smash hit film “Shrek” and has since been recorded or performed by over 300 different artists.
When Cohen originally wrote the song, there were over 80 verses. The song contains several biblical references, like the story of Samson, King David, and Bathsheba. When Cohen toured the song throughout the 80′ and 90’s he would invariably sing different verses with only the last verse remaining the same.
The many singers that have recorded the song have differing meanings for what the song is all about. John Cale said that the song had a message of “soberness and sincerity” while Jeff Buckley describes his version as “a hallelujah to the orgasm.” Canadian singer K D Lang said shortly after Cohen’s death in 2016 that to her it was about “the struggle between having the human desire and searching for spiritual wisdom, it’s being caught between these two places.”
Whatever your opinion of the song it will remain one of the greatest songs ever written. In 2012 an American singer named Jeffery Adam Gutt auditioned for “The X Factor” and performed a stunning version of “Hallelujah” to a capacity crowd. The judges had no idea what they were about to witness, nor did the audience. As he took the stage, Jeff was asked why he wanted to audition; his answer straight away got the crowd on-side. “I want to be able to support my son, he’s out the back, and he has never heard me sing before.”
The music started then the magic began as Jeff made this song his own. His powerful voice echoed through the stadium to the screams and applause of all who were there. Even Simon Cowell was in awe of this very talented young man. After the song had finished, Simon commented that it was one of the best auditions he had ever heard. “FoxWeekly” even called Gutt, one of the most influential American X Factor contestants of all time.
Even though Jeff didn’t win this time, he came back in 2103 and finished in second place. This is another one of those clips where you need to plug in the ear-phones and turn up the volume; you won’t be disappointed.