I'm sitting in my office this morning, trying to build a soundtrack around my day that will make the work flow more smoothly. Through the magic of iTunes on our shared network, I'm able to wander through the music collections of my coworkers, checking out new tunes and rediscovering old favorites. It says something about my mood today that I'm gravitating toward a weird mixture of Concrete Blonde's "Bloodletting" album and Leonard Cohen.
I love music, but if I have to be honest, it is rarely a medium that reaches deep into my center and holds on. More often, it's a river that flows around me and maybe helps to carry me downstream for a mile or two. It makes the journey a little more pleasant. Occasionally though, a song comes along that grabs me by the collar, punches me in the gut, and then rearranges my head. Even if just for a few minutes, it alters my brain chemistry . Usually I can't even tell you how or why. What can I say... I never really learned the right language to explain the way my mind works.
Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is one of those songs. It's been covered by a bazillion artists, including Jeff Buckley, John Cale, Rufus Wainwright, Bob Dylan, Bono, Bon Jovi, and Nerdcore artisan Beefy. While some of those covers are quite good, none of them resonate in my brainbox in quite the same way as Cohen's original 1984 recording. It's something about the timber of Leonard's voice paired the backup singers, and the way they deliver the simultaneously sad and exultant poetry of the lyrics.
You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
I want to thank Katrina for introducing me to Mr. Cohen's music back in... oh... 1988. For that, I forgive you for camping out to get Grateful Dead tickets... heh.
So that's one little piece of what's kicking around in my busy head today. Another piece would be Warren Ellis's first novel, "Crooked Little Vein", which I'm about 40 pages from finishing. That deserves it's own post... maybe later today or tomorrow. Wouldn't that blow your mind? Another blog post?