The Most Perfect Song Ever Took Five Years to Write

In 2008, Q Magazine held a poll in which Hallelujah was voted “the most perfect song ever.” According to Cohen, it took him at least five years to write the song:

“Hallelujah was at least five years. I have about 80 verses. I just took verses out of the many that established some sort of coherence. The trouble that I find is that I have to finish the verse before I can discard it. So that lengthens the process considerably. I filled two notebooks with the song, and I remember being on the floor of the Royalton Hotel, on the carpet in my underwear, banging my head on the floor and saying, ‘I can't finish this song.’”

Cohen trimmed the number of verses and released the song in 1984 on his album titled “Various Positions.” But, the song did not receive popular acclaim until 1991 when John Cale, a Welsh singer-songwriter, recorded a cover version of the song.

Since 1991, more than 200 versions of Hallelujah have been recorded in various languages. A version performed by the late Jeff Buckley attained #1 on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs in March 2008. Singer k.d. lang's performance of fellow Canadian Cohen's song was for many (including myself) the highlight of the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
This wonderful article has a bit about the history of the song and the complete lyrics with a bit about the meaning of each. At the end are four versions of Hallelujah performed by Pentatonix, k.d. lang, the late Jeff Buckley, and the late Leonard Cohen.

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