StoryWeb: Storytime for Grownups
About This Show
StoryWeb: Storytime for Grownups features stories you’ll love to hear – fiction, memoir, poetry, film, song, oral storytelling, and more. Listen as master storyteller Linda Tate talks about literature and other stories each week – and be sure to catch those special weeks when Linda reads the stories to you. Visit TheStoryWeb.com to learn more, share your thoughts about this week’s story, and subscribe to a free weekly email highlighting the featured story.
Most Recent Episode
116: Leonard Cohen: "Hallelujah"
4 days ago
This week on StoryWeb: Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah.” Last month during the same week that saw the U.S. presidential election, Canadian musician Leonard Cohen died at age 82. He was one of the great songwriters – a songwriter’s songwriter. The composer of such songs as “Suzanne,” Cohen was perhaps best known for his 1984 song “Hallelujah.” Apparently, it took Cohen years to write “Hallelujah,” to the point where he was once so frustrated that he banged his head on the floor as he sat to write the song. Even after he recorded the song on the album Various Positions in 1984, his subsequent world tour found him altering the lyrics, sometimes considerably. “Hallelujah” was a song that would undergo many revisions, both by Cohen and by others. The song did not really achieve breakthrough status until it was recorded by Jeff Buckley in 1994. Though Buckley did not have a hit with “Hallelujah” while he was alive, by 2004 it was so well known that it ranked number 259 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Time magazine noted that Leonard Cohen “murmured the original like a dirge,” while “Buckley treated the . . . song like a tiny capsule of humanity, using his voice to careen between glory and sadness, beauty and pain.” “It's one of the great songs,” Time concluded. Musician John Legend said that Buckley’s version is “as near perfect as you can get. The lyrics to ‘Hallelujah’ are just incredible and the melody’s gorgeous and then there’s Jeff’s interpretation of it. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of recorded music I’ve ever heard.” So iconic is Buckley’s recording that the Library of Congress announced in 2014 that it will be inducted into the National Recording Registry. Since Buckley’s recording ultimately catapulted the song to fame, it has been performed and recorded by numerous musicians and included in many film and television soundtracks, with over 300 known versions. Most recently, the song enjoyed another interpretation by Saturday Night Live comedian Kate McKinnon, who played Hillary Clinton throughout the 2016 campaign season. Four days after the presidential election, McKinnon – in character as Hillary Clinton – opened SNL with three verses from “Hallelujah.” Seemingly, Clinton was singing a requiem for her lost electio