"It's, as I say, a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion… It's a rather joyous song," says Leonard Cohen, creator of the song, Hallelujah. "I wanted to write something in the tradition of the hallelujah choruses but from a different point of view... It's the notion that there is no perfection ~ that this is a broken world and we live with broken hearts and broken lives but still that is no alibi for anything. On the contrary, you have to stand up and say hallelujah under those circumstances."
Near the start of this century Canada’s Allison Crowe took her place at the grand piano and in a single, first, take recorded her version of the tune that’s a beacon among Cohen’s most cherished. "I love singing Hallelujah", she says. "It's such an awesome song. I just feel humbled."
Allison’s singular style’s helped shape the way people hear and perform the song. This century hundreds of covers have poured forth, with the “Tidings” album version a much-loved, now classic, interpretation: allisoncrowe.bandcamp.com/track/hallelujah
She’s featured in MOJO magazine’s 2008 CD tribute to Leonard Cohen. In 2012, Allison performed “Hallelujah” on tour with Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet for "The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen" – choreographed by Jorden Morris. And a few years back, musicologist Dr. David Goza, DMA, then Visiting Associate Professor of Music at University of Oklahoma, launched a new educational series with this “heartbreakingly beautiful performance of Leonard Cohen's ‘Hallelujah’ by Allison Crowe.”
Audio engineer/producer: Larry Anschell. Filming directed and produced by Alex Postowoi. Cameras: Karen Duthie, Randy Rotheisler. Editor: Shirley Claydon.
Coming full-circle, Allison Crowe revisits, re-inhabits, "Hallelujah" with a new recording as part of Zack Snyder’s “The Justice League” movie – releasing March 18, 2021. Allison notes: "I am so honoured and humbled to be a part of this, and to call this beautiful, loving, giant family my friends." #ForAutumn
Here’s how, o’er the years, some others feel:
"Simply, a song so beautiful has never been sung so beautifully." ~ We Write Lists (UK)
"It's not hard to see why Crowe's Hallelujah -- recorded in a single take -- is popular. It's one of Leonard Cohen's most affecting songs, and the 26-year-old, accompanying herself on piano, makes it her own with raw honesty and formidable vocal power. It's simultaneously heart-breaking and redemptive, and it has captured the imaginations of people around the world. 'The song itself is just so emotionally resonant,' Crowe said modestly this week." ~ Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist (Canada)
"Bet you thought you heard all the versions you need to hear of this song, right? Think again, because Allison Crowe has a voice to fall in love with. She is from Vancouver Island in Canada, descended from Scottish, Irish, and Manx stock. She's exactly the sort of artist who can make serious headway on her own label and that's just what she's doing." ~ Record of the Day (UK)
"Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah,' which, as performed by Allison Crowe, may be one of the most amazing things ever recorded onto magnetic tape." ~ Semper Ubi Sub Ubi (USA)
"Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. This song has somehow become Crowe's signature, if a singer who defies description as stubbornly as she does has a signature... Cohen's original version is a spoken poem, all of the meaning contained in the words. Crowe's version is a living thing, a meditation and a celebration and a benediction." ~ anacronym (Canada)
"Crowe's warm, natural, passionate - and need I add lovely? - voice are perhaps shown to best effect on another glorious standard, Leonard Cohen's magnificent and deeply spiritual quest for faith, Hallelujah." ~ Martin Levin, Women's Post (Canada)
"j'ai rarement été bouleversée à ce point par une voix féminine. Pure comme de la glace, puissante et même violente sur la reprise de l'Hallelujah de Leonard Cohen." ~ SplinterMuse (France) (English translation: "I have never been so moved by a woman's voice. Pure as ice, powerful and even violent on the cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah".)
"(Jeff) Buckley especially just blew the song to pieces and every artist after him has tried and failed to put it back together. Until now. Allison Crowe manages to pump 'Hallelujah' full of all the soaring vocals and raw emotion that it requires. And the result is a big beautiful lump in the throat." ~ Muruch (USA)
" 'Hallelujah' is a bit of a sacred cow of a song and has been covered by artists too numerous to mention... I'll go with John Cale's world weary take and Allison Crowe's powerhouse of intensity as my yardsticks." ~ Martin Warminger, Music Obsessive (UK)