Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hallelujah

At Electric Picnic I saw the wonderful Niceol Blue play. Her audience was around twelve people, about half of whom seemed to know her personally. But that wasn't unusual for the bit of the festival we were in at the time.

We wandered in while she was playing a song I didn't recognise, possibly one of her own. After a few more she was told she had time for one last song, but it could be a long one. She said she didn't usually play this anymore, but the gods or someone or something was telling her to play it.

She played Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. But she didn't play his version, or Rufus Wainwright's version, or any other version I'd heard before. This was clearly her own take on the song. She had breathed it in and mixed it with herself before sharing it with us. And it was amazing.

I already new the song. I have Rufus Wainwright's version in my Grooveshark playlist, because I like his voice better than Leonard Cohen's. So I joined in, softly, at the chorus. As did everyone else. She told us we sounded great. And we did.

She sang the song as I knew it. And then she sang two more verses, the last two. They're amazing on their own, but if you're not already familiar with them I recommend that you read or listen to them in context. She kinda ruined Rufus Wainwright's version for me, because I now see the whole song as one thing, and I feel like his version misses the point. The verses I knew were just the prelude to the thesis of the last two verses. It's a song about love, sex, faith, and fucked-up-ness, and how they're all the same thing somehow. At least, that is what it now means to me, that's how I see it. And it doesn't really work without them.

And I sincerely hope that, even if it all goes wrong for me too, someday I too will stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah.

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