I am so sick of Hallelujah . . . every other singer in Canada has covered it, and they're all so pleased with themselves.
I learned of a cover the other night on "Vinyl Tap," an "oldies" program by Randy Bachmann (as in Guess Who and Bachmann-Turner Overdrive), each program following a certain theme. On that program he played "Constantinople," and revealed (to me, at least) that it was originally recorded by The Four Lads, a Canadian group, in 1953.
I had always assumed that it was original to They Might Be Giants.
1. Hallelujah was first released in 1984 on Leonard Cohen's album, Various Positions
2. Cohen once told Bob Dylan that it took him two years to write the song
3. Dylan himself has sung it live, and there are bootleg versions in circulation of his performance. It has also been sung by Bono and Bon Jovi
4. More than 100 versions of the song have been recorded
5. The best known is by Jeff Buckley, whose unadorned version was on his 1994 Grace album
6. Cohen has recorded two versions – the second one appeared on a live album in 1988 – with very different endings; one upbeat, one dark
7. Buckley's version was used in the soundtrack to the American TV series, The OC
8. Other TV shows to have used the song include The West Wing, ER, Scrubs, and Holby City
9. The full version of the song has 15 verses
10. Cohen, a notorious perfectionist, is said to have originally written 80 verses
11. Cohen earnt roughly £1 million in royalties from sales of singles by series five X Factor winner Alexandra Burke
12. Burke's version is the fastest selling download single in history
13. Former Velvet Underground member John Cale's version was used in the film Shrek
14. The Shrek soundtrack album featured a version by Rufus Wainwright, who also sang it in the Leonard Cohen tribute film, I'm Your Man
15. Cohen was once asked why the song is so popular. "It's got a good chorus," he replied
16. It has become a mainstay of live shows by Cohen's fellow Canadian singer-songwriter, kd lang
17. The English singer and songwriter Kathryn Williams once introduced her version of Hallelujah in a live show by saying, "I really, really, really want to shag Leonard Cohen."
18. The song is broadcast at 2am every Saturday night by the Israeli defence force's radio channel
19. Hallelujah is a Hebrew word, meaning "praise Yah"
20. Cohen has said of the song's meaning: "It explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist, and all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value."
I read that the record company did not initially want to include that song on Cohen's album. They felt the lyrics were not fitted to the chorus, or something of that nature. I don't recall where I read about it now.