Sunday, January 22, 2012

BBC's Hallelujah doc examines Leonard Cohen's unique mix of spirit and flesh

In late 2003, Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" was mostly known as a male-sung ballad. Allison Crowe unleashed a vitally different interpretation on "Tidings" - her '03 EP that proved so popular it's re-released the next year as a full-length CD.

Five years later, pretty much to the day, BBC Radio 2 in the UK broadcast an one-hour documentary on the song, which, by this time, was being covered almost continually. Host of "The Fourth, the Fifth, the Minor Fall" is Guy Garvey of the band Elbow.

The BBC crew caught up with Allison Crowe at View Two Gallery in Liverpool, England - where she was visiting as a guest for Beatles Week. The space was empty as an echo chamber, and special thanks go to producer Richard McIlroy who captured the audio in the moment - shared with his rapt two year-old.

Cohen's "Hallelujah" has now been covered more than 200 times, and each performer, and audience, finds their own meaning and inspiration. For visceral Allison Crowe, as she explains in this interview excerpt from the full documentary, it's about body and soul.

Also heard in this segment, chatting with Guy Garvey, are singer Kathryn Williams, The Bishop of Croydon - Nicholas Baines, and Cohen-collector and scholar Jim Devlin.

The BBC prefaced its broadcast on All Saint's Day, November 1, 2008:

"Warning: Listening to this sampling of artists, critics, and other commentators talk about their perspectives on Hallelujah may put ones preconceived notions about the song at risk."

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