Well 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?
Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah


But baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah


Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah


Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah



Lyrics submitted by fallen_crow05

Hallelujah Lyrics as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover) song meanings
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  • +32
    My InterpretationThis song is about the dark side of love. Especially when you've been in a close relationship you think will never end, then somehow you lose it and you have no idea how it happened. Love begins hopeful, then problems occur, then bickering begins, who's right, whose wrong. You draw apart until it completely breaks.

    First Verse:
    King Saul of Israel was under distress, He had David as a young man come in and play music and that was the only thing that soothed King Saul.
    Meaning: But you don't really care for music do ya, in relationships it's not always easy to sooth the one you love with words or deeds. Sometimes the other person doesn't want consolation.

    Second Verse:
    There are two biblical references in this verse.
    David is now King and he sees Bathsheba bathing from his roof top at night and just had to have her, though she was married. This means lust. It lead to nothing but problems the rest of David's lifetime because of his acting on it.
    The second is Samson and Delilah. Samson knew Delilah was using emotional warfare on Samson to learn from where he attained his power and strength. She would tell him he hated her because he wouldn't share this information. Samson broke down and told her it was his long hair that had never been cut that gave him his power because. He told her because loved her so much and he couldn't take the crying anymore, she wore him down. She had men come in and cut his hair, he lost his power, and it led to a tragic end for him.
    Meaning: Love has a beautiful side to it, but also a dark side. It can bring joy, but mostly pain. Especially when your loved one turns on you.

    Third Verse:
    Now this is getting into personal relationships. We have experience with relationships with others, we also know what it means to be alone. But sometimes when in a close relationship, when how you feel is the most important thing and you don't take note of how another person feels; you must always be right and justified, love turns to pain and loneliness.

    Fourth Verse:
    Lack of communication kills relationships. When communication breaks down you push each other away. It didn't start off like that, it started off with both in so much love. What went wrong?

    Fifth Verse:
    Love is painful. When you experience pain after pain, you can become damaged, you kill relationships when you see them going sour instead of trying to fix them before the other person beats you to it. Pride prevents you to let that happen.
    Instead of seeing the problems in relationships and tackling them head on, we often let them break. Then love becomes a cold and broken hallelujah.
    keithbporteron January 20, 2012   Link
  • +21
    General CommentHave you heard the original Leonard Cohen version (has a couple of differrent verses) - I think this is one of the rare cases where the cover really outdoes the original
    allumeuron February 02, 2002   Link
  • +15
    General CommentI honestly cannot believe no one has fully understood this song, which to me is the most clever lyric ever written. Yes it is a song about love and heartbreak, but there are strong religious undertones, not quite anti-religious, more satiric of the bible and supportive of the theory that people only turn to God to complete the holes left by imperfections in there life. The first verse combines these two meanings, beginning with a biblical reference to David being Gods favored man on earth, before a lyric with two meanings, "it goes like this, the fourth the fifth// the minor fall and the major lift" the first cleverly refers to the musical structure of the song, but it also refers to the rollercoaster of love, peaks of emotions from the best to the worst. The doubt in religion is also proclaimed in "the baffled king composes hallelujah", this refers to the Old Testament, in which David composes the book of Psalms, turning to religion only because he has found imperfection in his own life (Sleeping with Bathsheeba and ordering Uriah dead).

    The second verse is a reference to Sampson and Delilah as was previously stated, although "you saw her bathing on the roof" is another reference to David and Bathsheeba. It finished by telling how a failed relationship can break your life apart, (e.g. Sampson and Delilah), and again another relationships to how people in for instance mid-life crises 'find God'. ("and from your lips she drew the hallelujah")
    bob33on June 15, 2003   Link
  • +8
    General CommentNickel is right - Jeff doesn't sing falsetto, he has a 5 octave range. I once stumbled across a web page that had these technical figures from a vocal coach who examined Jeff performing (I think) Mojo Pin, and their conclusion was that he was techinically a better singer than the likes of Pavarotti...for someone with no real training that is a stunning fact...

    The song? It's a love song, most definitely. Love is not always sweet and fluffy - often it's damn painful. Being truly in love, you leave yourself wide open to hurt. But also, anyone who has loved someone so much that they feel physical pain will recognize themselves here...
    FullMetalRacketon August 07, 2002   Link
  • +8
    Song MeaningMost of the interpretations I have heard refer to biblical stories and of course it is impossible to ignore the analogies with King David and Bathsheba. However,I think these can obscure the meaning of the song and I would rather go beyond them. Analyzing a poem line by line sometimes misses the core of meaning which may actually be not fully realized by the poet himself.What after all was Kubla Khan, Coleridges poem about? It came out of a drug-induced reverie and the words are impossible to interpret literally.

    What I see in the poem is a man who finds it hard to reconcile his own singular personal quest for truth as a spiritual seeker and as a creative artist with earthly love.He is "overthrown" by the beauty of the woman bathing on the roof and intoxicated with desire for her yet with that comes compromise.Being tied to a kitchen chair suggests being bound to domesticity and having his hair cut recalls Samson whose strength was lost when Delilah cut his hair.He feels he has sacrificed his power for ephemeral sexual desire,emotional needs and freedom from the burden of loneliness.

    And inevitably the hallelujah, the ecstasy fades and withit bitterness and disillusionment since his lover has no feeling for creativity as evidenced by her lack of interest in music,his explanation of which seems to fall on deaf ears.

    At the same time,the sexual magnetism, "down below" has diminished or even gone in the way that the energy of many relationships weaken into dead habit.

    So there is a sense he has been left with nothing, doubting a god above and likening earthly love to a gunfight.It is as if he has betrayed his deepest yearnings and is only left with a cold and broken hallelujah, an empty exhortation, a state of inner desolation.

    Yet the tone of the song is so bittersweet, so beautiful and sad that there might be a suggestion that he has reconciled those feelings and accepted the limits of the relationship,knowing that even sharing a life with someone cannot assuage his inner loneliness.

    Hallelujah is a beautiful,ironic and melancholy masterpiece.
    TheStef112on December 22, 2010   Link
  • +6
    General CommentThe word itself is the secret cord by the way - the sound of the word hallelujah is described in the song:

    Well it goes like this:
    the fourth (hAL), the fifth(Leh)
    The minor fall(Lu)
    and the major lift (yA)
    The baffled king composing Hal-le-lu-jah

    great job on the back up singers putting such a major lift on the "jah"
    dmhaleon October 16, 2009   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationHallelujah is an expression; it’s what we say when we worship or rejoice.
    Throughout the lyrics, you can see the songwriter trying to define to you what hallelujah even means exactly, such as: “And it’s not a cry you hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah” Thus, he isn’t talking about faith.
    Next, it’s important to note that this song has evolution; the character in the music evolves throughout the piece.
    First stanza- “the minor fall and the major lift, the baffled King composing hallelujah” the story of King David, whose life itself was a composition. Baffled means perplexed; life is never predictable.
    “But you don’t really care for music, do you?” points to the idea that the songwriter is not referring to the Lord, but to someone else.
    Second stanza- Notice that he says “THE hallelujah” and not just hallelujah. The lyrics here refer to moments of weakness for great kings in the bible.
    Third stanza- “You know I used to live alone before I knew ya” the songwriter is no longer alone in his pain, because there is someone else, “you,” who has been in the same situation and place in life as he has.
    Third stanza- A relationship that has staled.
    Fourth stanza- “shoot somebody who outdrew ya.” Outdrawing a person means pulling out your gun from your holster before the other person could get to it in order to shoot them. In this case, he is saying that all he ever learned from love was how to get rid of them before they could shoot you down.
    Fifth stanza- Once again, “And it’s not a cry you hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.” He is talking about betrayal from loved ones, which is a cold and broken “hallelujah.” You can even take that literally. So this song is about betrayal.
    rosescon August 25, 2012   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationThe wisdom of this tender poem and accompanying music is astounding. Look at the discussion and varied ideas of what it means. Does that not speak to its brilliance? To some it puts words to their love of God and religion. To others it speaks to their love of woman/man. More argue for its depiction of sex. It might even describe music as ethereal, therefore above the mundane musings of everyday life. And all tell a story of an ultimate disappointment, and the subsequent pain of wronging and doing wrong. It is my belief that it’s all of that and perhaps more.

    This piece tugs at the human spirit on different levels. People describe a physical tightening of what may only be defined as soul. Notes. Words add the unexpected dimension; intellectual. The combination is always music, but is rarely a memorable experience. This is that experience.

    Great artists tell of great creations coming from another place. A higher power. God. Heaven. An unexplained place. Mr. Cohen seems to have spilled this beauty upon us from such a place. Add a great messenger, KD Lang, and you have an experience bigger than life. Watch any of the people in Ms. Lang’s audience. They witnessed an event they will never forget. A song.
    parlyon December 19, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIt's about being able to embrace personal differences in a relationship and love the other person despite whatever the problems you'd might have. Cohen is jewish by birth, but grew up in a liberal family and had influences from many different cultures, he now dabbles in Buddhism.
    torgrimon May 12, 2002   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationThe first time I heard this song, it was on the radio in my car and I had to pull over to the side of the road because it was so beautiful it literally distracted me from driving. And I listened all the way through and just wept and wept. I'd never heard of Jeff Buckley, and then Googled him when I got home, only to learn of his incredibly tragic end. And this song took on even more beauty and sadness. As if he knew his own untimely end was coming when he recorded this. He sings this song like he knew a lifetime of love and loss in the short time he was here.

    A little after I heard this song for the first time, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. And this song took on new meaning for me through that lens. I loved her so much and so desperately did not want to lose her. But watching her in so much pain, I realized that truly loving her meant letting her go. The line "And love is not a victory march / It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah" made sense then: when you love so deeply and must let it go, it breaks you. And leaves you cold. It's as though you're crossing the finish line after a marathon, and with your last gasp you say "Hallelujah" - it's finally come to an end. You can let go. But there's no winning in the loss; you just feel utterly broken.

    My mom has been gone for almost seven years now, and this song still makes me weep every time I hear it. Jeff Buckley gave us all such a gift with this song before he left us.
    HLsGirlon July 29, 2011   Link

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