Monday, February 15, 2010


The incomparable k.d. lang’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was another aspect of Olympic opening ceremonies that blew me away Friday night. What a song, a meditation based upon the Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba, and what a performance!

The Youtube version above is obviously not from the Olympics, but an earlier performance by k.d. at the Juno Awards during 2006 in Winnipeg, but you’ll get the idea. The Juno Awards are an annual celebration of Canadian musicians and music.

K.d, is a native of the Canadian prairie and both a gay rights and animal rights activist (as well as a militant vegetarian) --- factors that have been used against her --- and Cohen, a Canadian composer and performer.

The first Cohen song that became a part of my life was “Suzanne,” performed above not that long ago by Judy Collins, although the version we listened to way back when was recorded by her in the 1960s. Hearing it takes me back to smoky, boozy places in Saigon and those I ran with then --- war-induced loneliness, homesickness, regret and longing. Powerful then and now, at least for me.

And the third in this trinity of Cohen songs, “Bird on a Wire.” The version here, not the best graphically, features Willie Nelson’s perfect voice and interpretation.


Summer S. said...

Jeff Buckley's version of the song is better. I'm just saying.

オテモヤン said...
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Ken said...

Those are all great songs, especially "Hallelujah." I'd heard it a number of times without even connecting it to the David and Bathsheba story. Just one quibble: my wife insists that the hit (1960s era) version of "Suzanne" was sung by Noel Harrison, rather than Judy Collins. Did they both release it at about the same time?