Thursday, December 18, 2008

The 'Hallelujah' issue, Shrek, Bathsheba and the titanic Mr John Cale fae Wales



Well, at least Ol' Lennie won't have to worry too much about his retirement fund any more(Leonard Cohen, writer of Hallelujah, has infamously been forced to return to performing after losing almost all his lifetime earnings in a management scam).

As battle rages between supporters of Ms Alexandra Cowell-Burke and those of the late Jeff Buckley over whose version of H should go to the top of the charts this Christmas, consider the many other versions of said song. There are some truly horrendous attempts out there (and on YouTube). Try Bon Jovi for example. Or better, don't. KD Lang's is pretty impressive, Dylan's (live on YT) awesomely intimidating (love those sneering 'do-yas'). But not exactly pleasant.

This is the one. Mr John Cale is the man whose edited version (I chose the cheeky verses) (originally the song had 15 verses)was essentially 'covered' by Jeff Buckley, and who sings it in the film Shrek (though not on the soundtrack CD - that's Rufus Wainwright, for some unknown reason.)Cale released two versions on the Cohen tribute CD I'm Your Fan and on his own live album Fragments of a Rainy Season.

The biblical references abound, with that extraordinary Old Testament tale of David and Bathsheba (lust, murder, friendship, politics, religion - it's got everything)kicking things off and Samson turning up later on. In the end, though, the Cale version is about sex (Buckley claimed it was simply about 'the hallelujah of the orgasm') the end of love and possibly death. Jingle Bells or Merry Christmas Everybody it isn't.

Anyway. Here's the former classical wunderkind violist, Velvet Underground graduate and unrepentantly Welsh Mr Cale, with a truly magnificent string arrangement and cadaverous vocals to match his appearance.

This was recommended weeks ago by a listener to the show whose name now, alas, escapes me.

7 comments:

Norrie MacLean said...

Tom - I fear I may have to take the credit, or perhaps blame, for emailing in a few weeks ago to complain that Jeff Buckleys version was horribly overrated, and suggestion an order of Cohen, Cale, lang. But if nothing else x factor has brought the good versions some very welcome airplay!

Anonymous said...

What a shite song

Graham McCarey said...

Yesterday morning, as I was forced once again to negotiate the barrier of listless 'ticket-nazis' in Paisley Gilmour Street station, I was gobsmacked to hear one of them comment to another that Ms Cowell-Burke had been a most deserving winner of the X-Factor contest, "but why did they make her do that bloody s**te song?!"

It was all I could do not to enquire "but you don't really care for music . . do ya?"

Jim Fae Fife said...

The best version I ever heard was at Edinburgh Castle this year when the great man himself had us all in tears. Love Jeff Buckley though. As for anonymous, shame Eoghan didnae win ay? More to yout taste.

Jim Fae Fife said...

Kathryn Williams and Neil McColl did a great version at Belladrum this year too.

Norrie said...

JIm - would love to have heard that!

whiskynight said...

Hi Tom,

Sorry but i can´t listen to you
anymore cos i refuse to install
bloody real player.
Thank´s for many good hours.
Rest in peace.
Valter / Sweden
Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year,

Ps.Sorry about the Radiocroft too.
Slainte !