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.