Justin Timberlake Video: Hallelujah

I was listening to the words of Hallelujah and realized that, although it contains biblical references, it’s not really a religious (i.e. Christian) song . . . but it IS spiritual.  It’s a secular song pointing out that not all things praiseworthy come from God.  There are many sources for Hallelujahs.  With a little research, I found this quote from Leonard Cohen (the songwriter):

“Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means ‘Glory to the Lord.’ The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist. I say: All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.”

Timberlake told MTV News that when he was asked to perform on the Hope for Haiti Now telethon, he knew exactly what song he was going to perform. “It’s always been one of my favorite songs,” Timberlake said. “And my artist Matt, we always kinda sing that song when we’re messing around in the studio with ideas. The way that it’s written can be interpreted many different ways,” he added. “But the emotion that comes through – the chords, the melody and also what’s being said in the song – it just kind of fit for the telethon.”

Timberlake’s version marked the first time this song entered the Top 40 of the US singles chart. The only previous time “Hallelujah” reached the Hot 100 was in May 2008 when Kate Voegele spent one week at #68 with her cover.

After the music video, below, is some of the history associated with this great song and then, finally, the lyrics to the original version of Hallelujah.

From Wikipedia:

Hallelujah” is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, originally released on his studio album Various Positions (1984). Achieving little initial success, the song found greater popular acclaim through a cover by John Cale, which later formed the basis for a cover by Jeff Buckley. In recent years several cover versions have been performed by a large number and broad range of artists, both in recordings and in concert. The song has also seen significant use in film and television soundtracks, as well as televised talent contests such as The X Factor.

Musical composition and lyrical interpretation

Cohen’s original version contains several biblical references, most notably evoking the stories of Samson and traitorous Delilah from the Book of Judges as well as the adulterous King David and Bathsheba:[2] “she cut your hair” and “you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you”.[1]“Hallelujah”, in its original version, is a song in “12/8 feel”, which evokes the styles of both waltz and gospel music. Written in the key of C major, the chord progression follows the lyric “it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift“: C, F, G, A minor, F.[1]

Following his original 1984 studio-album version, Cohen performed the original song on his world tour in 1985, but live performances during his 1988 and 1993 tours almost invariably contained a quite different set of lyrics with only the last verse being common to the two versions. Numerous artists mix lyrics from both versions, and occasionally make direct lyric changes, such as Rufus Wainwright, a Canadian-American singer, substituting “holy dark” and Allison Crowe, a Canadian singer-songwriter, substituting “Holy Ghost” for “holy dove”.

Cohen’s lyrical poetry and his view that “many different hallelujahs exist” is reflected in wide-ranging covers with very different intents or tones of speech, allowing the song to be “melancholic, fragile, uplifting [or] joyous” depending on the performer:[1]The Welsh singer-songwriter John Cale, the first person to record a cover version of the song in 1991, promoted a message of “soberness and sincerity” in contrast to Cohen’s dispassionate tone;[1] The cover by Jeff Buckley, an American singer-songwriter, is more sorrowful and was described by Buckley as “a hallelujah to the orgasm”;[1][3] Crowe interpreted the song as a “very sexual” composition that discussed relationships;[1] Wainwright offered a “purifying and almost liturgical” interpretation to the song;[1] and Guy Garvey of the British band Elbow anthropomorphised the hallelujah as a “stately creature” and incorporated his religious interpretation of the song into his band’s recordings.[1]

The information below is excerpted from Songfacts.com.

The song is about love which has soured and gone stale. Cohen used a lot of religious imagery, including references to some of the more notorious women in the bible. Here’s some lyrical analysis:

“You saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you” – Bathsheba, who tempted the king to kill her husband so he could have her.

“She tied you to her kitchen chair, she broke your throne and she cut your hair” – Delilah, who cut off Sampson’s locks that held his superhuman strength.

“But remember when I moved in you and the holy dove was moving too” – This could be a reference to the divine conception and Mary.  It’s turned sexual with “And every breath we drew was hallelujah.”

Regarding the line, “The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift,” to which the chords played are: F – G – Am – F:  It is clever the way that not only the chords line up in the lyrics and in the music, but also because the connotations themselves of “major” and “minor” add to the meaning of the song. The “fourth” is a major chord based on the fourth of the key Buckley is playing in. Likewise the fifth is the major chord based on the fifth tone of the key. The “Minor Fall” corresponds to Buckley playing a minor chord based on the sixth of the key. “Major Lift” corresponds to playing the major chord on the fourth again.

The Bible makes reference to King David communing with the Lord and learning that certain types of music were more pleasing. The chords mentioned in the lyrics (that “David played and it pleased the lord) are often used in hymns.

Leonard Cohen sang this to Bob Dylan after his last concert in Paris. The morning after, they sat down at a cafe and traded lyrics. Bob especially liked the last verse. Dylan himself has performed this live, and there are bootleg versions in circulation of his version of this song. (thanks, Daniel – Nova Scotia,Canada)

Cohen started work on this song five years prior to recording it on his 1984 Various Positions album, by which time he had 80 verses to choose from.

Buckley started covering this after he became inspired by John Cale’s version off his 1992 album Fragments Of A Rainy Season. Cale shaped his own interpretation after Cohen faxed him 15 pages of lyrics for this song. He claimed that he “went through and just picked out the cheeky verses.” Buckley referred to his sensuous rendition as a homage to “the hallelujah of the orgasm.” He explained in a Dutch magazine OOR: “Whoever listens carefully to ‘Hallelujah’ will discover that it is a song about sex, about love, about life on earth. The hallelujah is not a homage to a worshipped person, idol or god, but the hallelujah of the orgasm. It’s an ode to life and love.” Buckley also admitted to having misgivings about his sensual version and he hoped that Cohen wouldn’t get to hear his version.

“Hallelujah”

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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in 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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, 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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, 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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah


 

The following text was taken from leonardcohenforum.com. I was written by ‘Actaion’ and edited by me.

These are the original lyrics from the album, ‘Various Positions’ (1984):

O1
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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

O2
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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

O3
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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

O4
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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Ten years later, Cohen published an almost completely changed version on his album, ‘Live Songs’ (1994)

N1
Baby I’ve been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

N2
There was a time you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

N3
Maybe there’s a God above
But all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s no complaint you hear tonight
It’s not some pilgrim who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a lonely(/broken )Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

N4 (same as O4)
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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

So only the last of the four verses stayed the same. The additional verses had already been published, the prior year, in the book, ‘Stranger Music’ (1993).

Strangely enough, a few years before Cohen published ‘Stranger Music’, John Cale presented a cover version on the tribute album, ‘I’m Your Fan’ (1991), which included some of the newer verses.

Cales version contained the following five verses: A1, A2, N1, N2, N3. He also changed the melody of the first two lines slightly.

Jeff Buckley adopted Cales version on his album, ‘Grace’ (1994). His version is one of the most famous and adored versions today.

The song reached a broader audience when featured on the soundtrack of the popular animation movie, ‘Shrek’. The song, sung by Cale, was played in the film for quite a long time, and in the foreground, featuring the verses O1, N1 and N3. Oddly enough, Cale’s version was used in the film but it was Rufus Wainwright’s version (using the same 5 verses Cale selected) recorded on the soundtrack album.

Thanks to Shrek, Hallelujah became more popular than ever. Today it seems to be an obligatory song for any contender to win American Idol.

Some facts strike me as noteworthy:

  • Nearly every cover version is based on the mixture of verses introduced by John Cale. Apart from those already mentioned, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crowe and Allison Crowe stuck to those same 5 verses.
  • K.D. Lang’s version omitted N2 on her studio version and N3 on live version.
  • Hardly anybody uses any version recorded by Cohen himself (the German group, ‘Wir sind Helden’ is the only exception I can think of: and even then it ‘s only true for the lyrics – the melody is closer to Cale’s version). Bono uses Cohen’s original album lyrics but with N3 added.
  • Cohen himself made use of all seven verses during his 2008 tour but usually omitted 1 verse to even out each performance to 6 verses. His most used version was: O1, O2, N3/O3, N1, N2, O4/N4
  • Mainstream covers usually cut the verses N1 and N2 to give it a standard playing time, leaving only three verses (O1, O2, N3 – N2 is usually omitted because of its more explicit lyrics).
  • Verse O4/N4 are the only ones to appear in both of Leonard’s published versions – yet are also the only ones which never show up in cover version!

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Epilepsy, the God Module and Muhammad


Has a major branch of history been determined by one man’s bout with epilepsy? I think it might have!

Epilepsy Toronto has, on its web page, a list of famous people who have had epilepsy. The idea of the list is that epilepsy doesn’t need to stand in the way of achievement. On that list – along with such luminaries as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Joan of Arc, Napoleon and Newton – was Muhammad. Well, you guessed it . . . the incendiary email this organization received from indignant Muslims, prompted them to quickly remove Muhammad from its on-line list. By now, we all know that nothing gets results like Muslim threats.

This incident reminded me of the connection between epilepsy and the ”God Module”. If you’re not familiar with the God Module or ”God Spot”, here’s a quick summary . . . It was discovered when scientists explored the association between epilepsy and intense spiritual experiences. It seems that temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) creates electrical storms in the brain that stimulates an adjacent area (now identified as the God Module). Many of these epileptics are hyper-religious.

Anyway, I did a Google search for ”Muhammad and epilepsy” and hit pay-dirt. There appears to be a strong correlation between the symptoms of epilepsy and the witness descriptions of Muhammad’s condition while in his ”trances”. Epilepsy (the ”sacred disease”, also known as the ”falling sickness”) is what the ancients thought were demon possessions. Muhammad was known to have had epileptic symptoms from at least the age of 5. His guardians were afraid he was demon possessed and pawned him off on other relatives.

Epilepsy would explain Muhammad’s visions and preoccupation with spirituality and his solitary retreats to the mountains for contemplative meditation. Many epileptics describe the spiritual sensations surrounding seizures as so exquisite that they actually look forward to these fits. Fyodor Dostoevsky claimed that he would not trade 10 years of life for a single epilepsy-induced spiritual experience.

Ancient, superstitious people, especially in Muhammad’s day, were easily impressed by these seizures. They seemed real, because they were. However, they weren’t demon possessions or contact with God; they were epileptic seizures. These seizures are reported to have frightened Muhammad until his wife (the first, ever, Muslim) convinced him that they were divine communiqués. That’s right . . . Muhammad’s wife was the first Muslim – Muhammad was the second.

There is only anecdotal evidence that Muhammad was an epileptic. It’s just a theory but is a convincing one: many historians and researchers believe it. The first to suggest it was the Greek monk, Theophanes. Theophanes (752-817) wrote, in his ”Chronography”, that Muhammad suffered from epilepsy. In 1869, Sir William Muir, made the same connection in his book, ”The Life of Mahomet”. More recently, Clifford Pickover writes:

Dostoevsky, another famous epileptic whose works are filled with ecstatic visions of universal love (and terrible nightmares of uncanny fear and radical evil), thought it was obvious that Mohammad’s visions of God were triggered by epilepsy. ”Mohammad assures us in this Koran that he had seen Paradise,” Dostoevsky notes. ”He did not lie. He had indeed been in Paradise – during an attack of epilepsy, from which he suffered, as I do.”

I guess it takes one to know one.


© Copyright 2011 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com


Ideals and Merit

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 has come and gone. Uber-liberal leftists across the Internet all seemed determined to put the worst possible face on the U.S. response since that historic day. It was a pathetic display of apologia. It’s rhetoric like that which has led me to become an Independent. I no longer identify with Democrats. I feel pushed, rightward, to the center and now see myself as a moderate centrist. I’m simply appalled at the extremes of the left, just as I am at the extremes of the right.

When we receive new information, the logical response is to adapt, if necessary. As long as we keep it in context, new information should make us better informed. An unbiased person will scrutinize the information for validity and judge it accordingly. A biased person is more likely to spin the data to suit his preexisting ideas or even reject it out of hand. One of the more common sources of bias is ideology. Whether it be political, religious, cultural or whatever: ideology can act like a camera filter through which new information is tinted or even polarized.

Ideologies are seductive. Even scientists can have their objectivity compromised by ideology. Confirmation bias is an all too human tendency that can also afflict scientists. Political, religious, philosophical and economic biases can also affect scientists (consciously or not). Within their own disciplines, reductionism, aesthetics, metaphysics and other presuppositions can skew findings or interpretations of them. Fortunately, science has the scientific method (peer review, repeatable experiments, etc.) to weed out such errors.

If even scientifically disciplined professionals are subject to ideological bias, then who is really safe from it? Would less disciplined laymen be even more prone to it? To answer my own question: Yes – judging by what I read, online, from (alleged) freethinkers in blogs and forums.

Politically, freethinkers are predominantly liberal. From what I can discern, they seem no less likely than others to exhibit ideological bias because liberals are, by and large, idealists. They push for change to realize their ideals: how society should or ought to be. One important liberal ideal is equality (inclusion). It was liberals who heralded reforms to include women and minorities (religious, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, etc.) as equals. Idealism can lead to wonderful reforms but not every issue is always amenable to idealism.

If all religions, nations, people, species, lifestyles, etc., are equal and to be included, then values become, in effect, relative. Because of this tendency to ignore or deny differences, liberal thinking leads to accommodationism, multiculturalism and a bias for political underdogs and against the prevailing powers (as we’ve seen during the run-up to the 9/11 anniversary). All too often, decisions aren’t based solely on the available information: instead, they’re filtered through the lens of liberal ideology. Instead of evaluating issues in terms of merit, the idealism of many liberals leads them to evaluate issues in terms of ideals. As thus practiced, the most significant difference between merit and ideals is bias.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed more and more how liberal idealism – being liberal for liberal’s sake – causes bad decisions. It’s why I’ve moved right, to the political center. Differences must be addressed on their real merits. This doesn’t mean you forsake your ideals. It means your ideals will mislead decisions if they take precedence over the merits of political realities. You can recognize when idealism has ignored political realities by the backlash that eventually follows, such as: reverse discrimination and the end of Affirmative Action; multiculturalism and bans on burqas and mosque spires.

As a centrist, I believe there’s a time to be conservative and a time to be liberal and that these times are determined by the merits of the political realities involved. For instance: nobody wants civilian casualties in the pursuit of the war on terrorism. Should we quit the war to avoid such casualties? Of course not! If we value our way of life, there is no alternative but to deal forcefully with terrorists. We can try our utmost to avoid civilian casualties but we need to acknowledge that they will nonetheless occur. It doesn’t help that terrorists use civilians as human shields, so the fair share of blame should go to those who callously endangered the civilians in the first place. The truth is that terrorists have been known to gun down civilians who flee neighborhoods used as human shields. You can’t hide behind civilians who run away from you.

Everything is NOT relative. The deaths on 9/11 are distinctly different from the deaths incurred in the war on terrorism. Civilians are intentionally targeted by Al Qaeda BECAUSE they’re civilians. The U.S. military and those of other countries target combatants only. Collateral damage and civilian deaths are not desirable to us. Let’s get real here. If terrorists stopped trying to destabilize governments by attacking their civilian citizens, the war on terror would be over.

The war on terror is an example of where liberal idealism is not generally a good idea and where harsh realities must be accepted. However, there are times, even in war, when liberal ideals are needed, such as in the treatment of prisoners and the methods used to interrogate them. It’s a matter of balance: moderation in all things. Ideals and merit.


© Copyright 2011 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com