October 16, 2021


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‘Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song’ Review: Unique Pop Doc

6 min read

“Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, a Song” is a documentary about Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah”, and if it sounds like a lot of movies for a song – well, “Hallelujah” is a lot of songs. The way we think of it now, it’s epic and lovely and transliterated: a hymn in a pop idiom. You can call it a good song for a secular society, because the word “halelujah” has a clear religious meaning, and the reason is that people like to hear “halelujah” or sing in a large stadium, the song tells its listeners: If you This is beautiful (and really, who doesn’t?), Then you are a spiritual person.

The documentary, written, photographed and co-edited by Daniel Geller and Dana Goldfin’s team, is also a portrait of Leonard Cohen, the ultimate stand-alone pop star in his half-century career (he died in 2016) Without-the-pop-star-that-she-was-so. Born into a wealthy Jewish family in a Montreal suburb, he started out as a poet and was one of them. Yet when he began to set his words to music, he forced them to sing with a fluke magic rather than Bob Dylan. Cohen’s voice was an inferior drone, unfamiliar, direct, and distracted for any kind of vibration; It felt like the bottom of the ocean had to be torn down and things had to go to the heart. Songs like “Suzanne” and “Sisters of Mercy” created a deadly melody and brilliant spelling, and Cohen himself was sexy on the way to the Canadian pasino-meeting-Serge Gainsbourg-a clean-cut troubadour, a professor of lyrical enchantment.

When he started working on “Hallelujah,” he continued to write verses, probably filling notebooks with 180, and it took years for the song to literally end. Cohen did not do this with other songs. As if he knew that with “Hallelujah” he was not just writing a song but giving birth to it. Yet part of the chemistry of “Hallujah” is that, over time, the song that turned out isn’t the one that started it. The song took a journey – changed, Is becoming, Attain the level of spirit and mantra. And I’m far from alone in experiencing that evolution in a strange kind of reverse order.

To put it bluntly: a lot of people learned about “Hallelujah” from “Shrek”, a 2001 DreamWorks animated fairy tale where it was used to lend a story of a green dog with an amazingly depressing and depressing dimension. (In the film, “Hallelujah” expresses his heartbreak.) The version of the song heard on “Shrek” is by John Kaler, a former member of Velvet Underground (although the soundtrack version, due to the integrated corporate, is by Hall Rufus Wainwright, who directly imitated Kell’s version). A timed rendition of the song appeared on his 1992 live solo album “Fragments of a Rainy Season” (one of my favorite records), but it remained in the larger world, a well-kept secret, even when Kell was performing in a mesmerizing audience concert.

Then Jeff Buckley got it. He began performing it at the East Village Coffeehouse inside the Wall Cave, in Cena, where Buckley, taking himself on a Fender telecaster, turned into a cozy cult venue. The version of his song was more slow and dreamy: a meditation that allowed Bakli’s voice to fly in the sky. Bakli died in 1997, the victim of a tragic drowning accident, and it is the controversy of the documentary – not sensitively but what happened – as his death played an important role in promoting “Hallelujah.” Buckley, who had the look of an indie-rock Jim Morrison and the voice of a trembling angel, was on the cusp of becoming a big star, and partly because many of his fellow musicians revered him, the new focus was on “Hallelujah.” Started to get covered and the song has now taken on a musical quality. Which probably led to its use in “Shrek”.

But what do you know about the original version of Leonard Cohen? How the film sweats on his songs, with their Waltz-like rhythm and mystery (‘I heard there was a secret melody, / that David played and it pleased the Lord, / but you don’t really care about the music, do you?’)) It also states that after a long break with composer and producer John Lisauer (the two were in the middle of writing an album together when Cohen took a leap and haunted him for eight years), Cohen then re-recorded with Lisauer “Various Positions,” 1984 Album on which “Hallujah”.

In the 2000s, after “Hallelujah” became a thing, I was the one who had a handful of Leonard Cohen albums, two of which I thought of as soundtracks: his first, great “Leonard Cohen’s Song” (1967) by Robert Used with quiet majesty in Altman’s “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and “The Future” (1992), several of whose tracks created a royal layer of pop gravitas in Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers”. Yet I have never encountered “different locations”, so I received a copy of it, eager to hear the “Hallelujah” version edited by Cohen, who wrote it.

It was one of the biggest disappointments of all time.

The documentary interviews John Lisauer, and he looks like a Hello colleague, but I’m sorry, his arrangements and the production of “Hallelujah” are violently bombarded and uncontrolled. You can hear it countless times and it never achieves the magic we add to the song. When Colombian chief Walter Yetnikov listened to the first album, he disliked it so much that he refused to release it in the United States. You are great. But we don’t know if you’re good. Although the album should have been released by all means, Yetnikov had an inherent tendency to judge. “Different positions,” in contrast to Cohen’s best work, was not a word that matched his vision. It was actually John Cal who co-created our familiar “Holyuzah”, using simple rolling piano chords and plaintiff voices to invest in it with a mysterious glimpse.

In “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song” we hear a lot of good Leonard Cohen episodes, such as how he was pressured to change his last name, and almost (Leonard September), but understood: why his Should there be someone other than yourself? Composing the melody of that endless song in “Hallelujah,” he slammed his underwear into the “dilapidated hotel room” in May-Flower and leaned his head against the floor, saying, “I can’t do it anymore.” Cohen, along with Phil Specter, created the 1977 album “Death of a Ladies Man,” which should not be mistaken for how it all became an interesting lesson. And there are vivid observations from world-class contestant Larry “Ratso” Sloman, who got to know Cohen when he profiled her for Rolling Stone, and Judy Collins, who knew her from the beginning (in a 1966 clip, we hear her play “Susan,” and it The documentary follows Cohen on the strange Odyssey of his life – the story of feminization, the way he lost his meaning, the years he spent in a Buddhist monastery, and his return to Fedora as a gray legend, to attract more viewers. He never was.

Towards the end of his life, the song “Hallelujah” became such a feeling that a small part of you could almost expect not to get it. Yet there is a glory to this story. For many years, Leonard Cohen worked like a monk on a modern song, which was left in absolute obscurity, then it became a different song – becoming, perhaps, the song always was. “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey …”, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month, is still looking for a distributor, and it deserves one. For this rich music dock there is totally an audience (although it can use an interesting title), how a quiet artist, without planning, creates a song that can be heard all over the world.

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