The great songwriter and poet died yesterday at 82, but his signature song endures, in many versions and many styles. It crosses all religions and cultures. (A couple years ago, while attending Mass at a parish in Florida, I heard the music used for the “Alleluia” refrain sung before the gospel!)
Further proof of its appeal: at least one adaptation has been done for Easter, with Cohen’s approval. NCR reported on it a few years ago:
In 2006, Kelly Mooney, a young woman from Prince Edward Island in Canada, was asked by her parish priest if she had ever heard of this lovely song, which repeats “hallelujah” in the chorus, and could she sing it in church on Easter Sunday? She went home and looked at the lyrics. Returning to her pastor, she said “Oh, Father, I don’t think this is a good idea!” She went home and rewrote the lyrics. The finished product melds the passion story with one of the most moving melodies of our time. She wrote to Cohen, asking for mechanical rights to the song, which, surprisingly, she received two years later.
Mooney’s tells the story and sings her version below.
Yet another rendition comes from the Christian group Cloverton, which recorded a version tied to the Christmas story and released an artfully produced video to accompany it. Check it out:
Finally, one of the more unusual interpretations is in Yiddish, from Klezmer musician Daniel Kahn: