Hallelujah on Beale Street

Jeff Buckley didn’t write “Hallelujah,” but if you didn’t know any better, you would never think otherwise. Few recordings (or his live versions of the same song) embody the type of emotion that Buckley exudes through the masterpiece. Leonard Cohen wrote the song, and I will debate all day that it truly is a masterpiece. And I don’t just say that because Cohen worked on it for over a year, and apparently had some 80 verses during the process.

According to Cohen’s bio, over 150 artists have covered the song, including Willie Nelson and Bono. Other artists include Rufus Wainwright, Bon Jovi, Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor and k.d. lang.

But Buckley was the guy to properly communicate the masterpiece.

Words don’t adequately describe what happens when Buckley performs the song. This is one of those cases where you have to hear it. Music communicates something that can not be put in to words.

Listen to Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” and tell me there isn’t more at play in this world than ordered groupings of scientific elements and equations. Tell me there isn’t a level that can nary be described, but only felt. A level that produces tears, pain, love, hurt, longing – you know, the things that matter in the end; the things that keep us going. 

It’s about emotion.

On May 29, 1997, in Memphis, Buckley and a friend stopped for a swim in the Mississippi. Buckley was pulled under by a current from a passing boat. On June 4, his body was found, floating near Beale Street. He was 30 years old.

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2 thoughts on “Hallelujah on Beale Street

  1. I still think that Rufus Wainwright’s version is the best. Maybe its because it was the first version i heard of the song, but something about his voice gets me.

  2. The best is definitely Jeff Buckley’s version. I’ve heard just about every cover of this song and while Cohens version comes in a close second, Buckley is the only artist that almost brings me to tears every time. I wasn’t all that impressed with Heaps cover. I adore her usually, but I felt she tried to emulate Buckley more than give her own spin.

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