How “Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen’s hymn to the sacred and the profane, ended up going from a deep cut on an album by Cohen’s label considered unreleased to one of the most ubiquitous songs in the world. beginning of the 21st century?
This is the question that animates “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a trip, a song”, an enlightening, although sometimes too complacent, documentary by Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine. Cohen fans who have gone from admiring his most famous song to lamenting his transformation into fodder for people who don’t sing as much as they listen to themselves sing will likely miss more skepticism in a movie by nearly two hours that only obliquely considers how love for a piece of music can kill it as surely as the rudest record executive. It turns out “Hallelujah” was the victim of both types of murder, first by famed Columbia Records head Walter Yetnikoff, who refused to release Cohen’s 1984 album “Various Positions” in the United States. United, telling her, “We know you’re awesome, we just don’t know if you’re good. Although Cohen continued to perform the song, it didn’t find new life until she either taken up, first by John Cale and then by singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, whose lineage (he was the son of Tim Buckley) and untimely death in 1997 only added to the mythical allure of his When “Hallelujah” was used in DreamWorks’ 2001 film “Shrek,” the soundtrack of which sold millions of copies, the problem was solved: Cohen’s song, which he had put several years writing, had gone from a deeply personal and witty interpretation (depending on which version he was playing) to aff sexual irmation to millennium earworm and “American Idol” fodder.