All lyrics to Cohen's Hallelujah?
October 19, 2006 8:47 AM   Subscribe

What are all the 15 verses of Leonard Cohen's song Hallelujah?

Here's a new question on a song that's been asked about before.

The Wikipedia article on this wondrous song quotes John Cale:
"After I saw [Cohen] perform at the Beacon I asked if I could have the lyrics to "Hallelujah". When I got home one night there were fax paper rolls everywhere because Leonard had insisted on supplying all 15 verses."
What are all 15 verses of the song? Even the many covers of the song (blog post, not my blog) seem to adhere mostly to Cale's chosen verses.

Bonus points if there's some canonical order to them!
posted by poq to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I believe it's either a) Cohen's crazy brilliant and could never fully settle on one particular version of the lyrics that he was completely happy or comfortable with. Or, b) No one has ever been able to make out the original lyrics to the song and he has simply worked off that angle to keep the fans (and fellow songwriters) guessing.

Either way, it's an amazing song.
posted by purephase at 8:53 AM on October 19, 2006

oddly enough I just got the book "Stranger Music" of COhen's poetry and lyrics from the library. It lists the "standard" lyrics first, then says something like "[additional verses]"

and continues with these (there might be a couple more stanzas but that's all i can find online):

Maybe there's a God above,
As for me, all I've ever seemed to learn from love
Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.

Yeah but it's not a complaint that you hear tonight,
It's not the laughter of someone who claims to have seen the light
No it's a cold and it's a very lonely Hallelujah.

posted by drjimmy11 at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2006

Hm. Well, if you combine the lyrics from the 1994 release and the 1984 release you get 12 verses. So, we need to find three more.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:16 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm not that familiar with Cohen's version, but the two verses drjimmy11 mentions are definitely in the Jeff Buckley version, give or take a word.
posted by blueshammer at 10:46 AM on October 19, 2006

Mostly "take."

In Jeff Buckley's Grace version, those two are
Maybe there's a God above,
But all I ever learned from love
Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.

It's not a cry that you hear at night,
It's not somebody who's seen the light;
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah.

posted by booksandlibretti at 9:22 PM on October 19, 2006

Ah crap. Post != preview, and to make things worse, I got tangled up in versions.

Jeff Buckley, Grace version:
I've ever learned . . .
Was how to shoot at somebody . . .
And it's not a cry

I'm up to fourteen or fifteen verses depending on how you count. These are numbered for reference only; I'm sure various covers are in very different orders.

01. I heard there was a secret chord
02. It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
03. Your faith was strong but you needed proof
04. She tied you to a kitchen chair
05. Maybe I've been here before
06. I've seen your flag on the marble arch
07. There was a time you let me know
08. Remember when I moved in you
09. Maybe there's a God above
10. It's not a cry you can hear at night
11. You say I took the Name in vain
12. There's a blaze of light in every word
13. I did my best; it wasn't much
14(?). It's not a complaint that you hear tonight (slightly modified version of #10)
14 (15?). Yet even though it all went wrong

I'm counting like it's verse-verse-chorus, not verse-chorus -- otherwise, we have half as many verses, and I'm not sure we'll ever get to 15.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:49 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

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