As we go through life, there are far too many times when we fail to stop and smell the flowers, in either the literal or the figurative sense…times when we are so caught up in the day-to-day madness that, when something comes along, we overlook it for whatever reason. Sometimes these oversights might be such that, were one to have paused for a moment, life could well have changed dramatically. And then there are times when the impact might be far from life-changing…but where, nevertheless, there might be some tiny something that might have been overlooked that might have brightened your life in some way, shape or form…not in any concrete way, perhaps, but just some little something to help you get through the madness.
That I am just now writing about this should tell you that, a couple months back, there was a lot going on in my day-to-day. Nothing worth noting here, and nothing to worry about at all…just one of those busy times in life where there is enough routine stuff to keep you going, perhaps a bit too much. At the same time, the backstory goes back a lot farther.
For years – and not often, but every once in a scattered while, somewhere in passing – I would see a reference to Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah”, which dates back to the 1980s. And everything I read about the song hinted to something very special. I actually had a legitimate excuse for not pursuing it in the days before the advent of the internet. Once YouTube came around, not so much. Even with Cohen’s passing a couple of months back…well, the tributes were fine, and I really had to check this out…but there was work to do, y’know.
And then I saw a clip of Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live, in character as Hillary Clinton, singing “Hallelujah” at the piano. Holy. Crap. And then, a couple of days ago, my reaction was the same as I watched an autistic girl put out another moving version – this one with lyrics rewritten as a Christmas carol. And it was time to dig deeper.
And what I found was amazing. Not just the two renditions I had heard…not just for the fact that there were apparently several other versions out there, piecing together verses written at various times. No; what really jumped out at me, what absolutely struck me, was finding the original set of lyrics. This was as powerful of a piece of poetry as I had ever seen in my life. Yes, I am sorry that I had not looked before this. And yes, I am glad I finally took the time to dig in. Now, it is a matter of finding this rendition somewhere on YouTube.
Unfortunately (or, more accurately, fortunately, as today is Christmas Eve), there are things to do today. But I am not going to allow myself to wait so long this time around. In the meantime…please allow yourself to be moved by the original words. Thanks, Leonard…
Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
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 did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah