Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hallejulah?

I was chatting to my sister last week about the way we use the internet. She tends to post photos of her friends and parties and things, and then doesn't like the idea of other people looking at what are essentially personal things. I see it quite differently. For me, this is a form of publishing; cheap and accessible, and if it is to a very small audience, well at least they (you!) are interested enough to seek it out, and if you like it you'll come back, maybe.

So far it's largely been a country diary sort of publication, mildly interesting things that I have been doing. But of course what I really want to write are opinion columns. In fact, I've long had that ambition, way before the blogosphere made it possible.

So here is today's opinion - in response to numerous assertions in the Guardian over the course of the last week.

Am I really alone in thinking, why oh why oh why etc etc ... does everyone (OK everyone at the Graun, cos that's all I read) think that Jeff Buckley's version of Hallejulah is vastly superior to everyone else's, including Leonard Cohen himself? Now, I have only heard those two versions (of the 180 that are apparently out there, if my journal of choice is to be believed, which on past form it probably isn't), so I thought I'd better go and have another listen to the Buckley version. What I heard was an anodyne arrangement, sung by a guy with a rather weedy voice, with barely a trace of passion or pain or even of expression, that went on rather. While Cohen's rendition didn't quite make it into my LC all time top ten, it has a splendid rawness and an immediacy that belies the fact (again, IMJOCITBBWOPFIPI) that it was five years in the writing.

Of course it's a matter of taste, but I was surprised that so many people seem to prefer what sounds to me like a rather sanitised, well-modulated interpretation.

Or was it just a case of one person at the Guardian saying that last week, and all the others following in their footsteps?

6 comments:

Carrie said...

Ok, we may be atheists, but Jeff Buckley was A GOD! A voice of beauty, passion, loveliness. I was so sad when he died in such a stoopid tragic way.

Sarah said...

I must admit that that's the only track of his I've listened too, and as a diehard Cohen-worshipper (late converts are always the worst, aren't they) I know I'm biased. Maybe I would appreciate him better if I heard him singing his own material. I'll ask Baz when he gets in - he's a bit of a fan. Mind you, I think my dream album might be Scott Walker sings Leonard Cohen. Imagine that!

Sarah said...

Oh, and happy yule to atheists all.

Craig Booth said...

No, no, no: now you're really courting controversy. The best version is incontrovertibly kd lang's. Check out http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=FTv9m8c6hnw although I prefer the studio recording.
The funny thing is: my band decided to give up on the song a couple of months ago, saying it would never be popular enough in the pubs

Sarah said...

kd lang eh. I like her, but I've only got her first two albums. I shall investigate.

Sarah said...

Oh my god, Amazon now do downloads. I'm doomed. It was only the hassle of paying that stopped me before.
Yes, she sounds good, but still... too nice.