Sunday, March 09, 2008


Some time ago, CC posted this video of k. d. lang singing one of the most beautiful ballads I've ever heard. I had never heard it before (I know that sounds crazy, since it's been around for 24 years, but it's true!), and it's haunted me ever since.

Several singers have recorded their own versions of it (there are apparently some 18 verses written by Leonard Cohen), but nobody can touch k. d. for pure, raw, emotion. And even she has done it differently a few times. This version is the one I like best.

I have a friend who sings with the Vancouver Welsh Men's Choir, and I've found out there are Welsh lyrics. I want the choir to sing this song.

I'm feeling a little obsessed at the moment, thank you.


Blogger dez said...

Damn. How did I miss this song in my 50 years of living and listening to music? And I LIKE Leonard Cohen.

Time to catch up. Went to YouTube and spent all morning (when I should be at work) playing every version they had, including Mr. Cohen himself with a choir. I especially like Jon Bon Jovi's version.

There are about 5 different versions of k.d. lang singing it. The one she did in Sydney is the cleanest video, IMHO.

But, this is the one where she nails it. The full force of her powerful voice is all there, and packs enough emotion to fill an ocean of tears. (Kleenex break! brb..)

k. Where was I?

Lyrics. Right. This is Leonard Cohen, so the song is about Love. But, being Leonard, it is full of stuff about sex and religion and a lot of other things that happen in a person's life. It is filled with metaphor, but in such an off-handed way that it avoids all pretension. Read his poetry and you'll see what I mean.

Like I said, she nailed it.

Monday, March 10, 2008 9:51:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

I really like Leonard Cohen's songs, but, like Neil Young, he can't sing worth a damn, and it takes someone else to make them work.

And once I realized that Leonard wrote it, I stopped criticizing the lyrics, because I knew what he meant when he said it the way he did. No one else could get away with that.

What amazes me is that both of them are Canadian, and with all the CRTC rules, regulations, laws, and power-over-our-listening-pleasure, I had never heard this until now.

Now I gota go listen to the Bon Jovi version. I missed it the first time. Thx.

Monday, March 10, 2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Yup. Bon Jovi does excellent versions. I love it when a singer can use his voice to wander around the music for awhile and always come back and nail it down.

I sang it last night at our weekly ceilidh. I'd love to get a concert flute in there, but I don't think they come in the key of F...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 4:20:00 PM  
Blogger Balbulican said...

Back when I was wee folkie, we learned a few of Leonard Cohen's early songs and sang them earnestly without really understanding them. For years he'd pop up intermittently, but I wasn't really aware of what he was being a monk somewhere, publishing new poetry, something.

Then a friend gave me a copy of the "I'm Your Man" CD, and I was amazed at the deadpan humor, the depth of emotion, and the range - from "Tower of Song" to "Take This Waltz" to "First We Take Manhattan" - I don't thing a better album came out of the last half of the eighties, truly.

I filled out my collection forward and backward, and found some tedium, some gems, but a real treasure trove of brilliant songwriting. I'm so glad he's touring - I'd love to see him, but there's no way I'll ever manage to get tickets.

The SECOND best version of Allelulia I've heard, curiously, is by ANOTHER Canadian gay icon, Rufus Wainwright. Whereas KD wrings every last ounce of emotion and spirituality out of the song, Rufus emphasizes its bitter edge and its irony. It's evidence of the song's power that two such hugely idfferent interpretations both work so well.

Thanks, Chim, great link!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 5:53:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Well. Just...damn. Always thought K. D. had mega-talent, but I had no idea her voice was that powerful. What an amazing song. Thanks, Chim, for a real treat.

Thursday, March 13, 2008 3:29:00 PM  

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