In an interview with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company), the great Leonard Cohen wished for a moratorium on new versions of his song Hallelujah. I couldn’t agree more.
Hallelujah is more than a classic. It’s a hymn that goes beyond religions and beliefs. To say it has soul would be a gross understatement. It is simply Cohen’s best and it should only be known as such. Still, my knees still shake when I hear the Jeff Buckley version. That version has the merit of being mystical and haunting simply because Buckley – besides being a genius – is dead and still has, quite the numinous aura attached to his name.
I however draw the line at any and all the renditions made by reality-show contestants. For starters, too many of them don’t even know who Leonard Cohen is nor do they care of the legend such name carries. It is asymptomatic of a generation, or rather an industry, that favours profits over respect and dues. Never was this more evident that at the recent debacle also known as the BET awards when the wind-machine-addicted Beyoncé performed Ave Maria dressed like a burlesque saloon dancer passed her prime. Ave Maria? Really?
The Industry that has already disfigured such classics as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Stevie’s Pastime Paradise (Damn you, Coolio. Damn you.) should get itself some standards and leave the classics alone.
The Great Leonard Cohen