Buried Treasure: Bob Dylan, “Hallelujah”

“I heard there was a sacred chord, that David played, and it pleased the Lord…”

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Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (from 1984’s Various Positions) is a song as famous for its cover versions as it is for it’s mystical lyrics and heavenly melody. Jeff Buckley truly gave it a second life when he recorded it ten years later on his debut album, Grace, and everyone from Bono to Bob Dylan has taken the song for a spin.

The idea of Bob Dylan covering Cohen is tantalizing, and we can all share in the results, via the magic of YouTube. Now if only Cohen would return the favor. Imagine the gravity he could impart to “Visions of Johanna?”

Or maybe “Blowin’ in the Wind” is more his speed.

What Bob Dylan song would you like to hear Leonard Cohen do? Let us know.


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  1. Dylan covered Hallelujah first in 1988 – in concert, not on record. Then John Cale took the song and, in 1991, gave it the shape that most performers, from Buckley to this day, have used. My favorite covers are all from this decade. Leonard Cohen himself has released his most musical take on the song just this year.

    Simply, one of most beautiful of all popular songs.

  2. Actually the best cover version of “Hallelujah” belong to KD Lang. Or Allison Crowe.

    As for the song I want Cohen to cover – I think “Visions of Johanna” is a terrific pick. “Buckets of Rain” or “Simple Twist of Fate” would work great too. Pretty much any song from “Blood on the Tracks”.

    And I’d really love to hear Dylan cover what I consider to be Cohen’s best song – “Waiting for the Miracle”.

  3. mmmmm, yeah doesnt everyone know kd langs a joke by now? anyways, cohen should do either lovesick, sara, or simple twist of fate (picture him intoning any of these an try to disagree). Come on, lets dig into that dylan catalog for a cohen cover!

  4. For all those who like this Cohen”s song, I srongly recommend Rufus WainWright”s version: powerful and moving. on<t remember though on which album Rufus recorded this anthem. Keep searchin’, it ‘s worth the price!

  5. I know that Rufus Wainwright’s version was on the soundtrack to the movie SHREK. Did he release it on one of his own albums as well?

  6. I would go for Not Dark Yet , also, as a first choice.
    Heard Clapton do it last night and it was good, and actually
    made me think of Cohen.
    Hazel, Dirge and Wedding Song, off Planet Waves , would all
    make good covers for Lenny, as would a slow version of She’s Your Lover

  7. Someone suggested “Sara” which is an idea that intrigues me.
    My suggestion is “One More Cup of Coffee”.
    Or even better, “Ring Them Bells”, which is kind of a Cohenish Dylan song to begin with, mentioning St Catherine and all those other saints.

  8. how about a trio – dylan, cohen and tom waits doing a version together of “God Gave Names to all the Animals”? with a flip side of Desolation row, each one trading off verses and singing harmony – if you could call it that – on the chorus.

  9. Waters Of Oblivion (Too Much Of Nothin’) version on the bootleg, Great White Wonder is fantastic, but the recording’s crap.
    If Bob wont record that version properly, I think Leonard Cohen would do it well.

  10. I second the suggestion of “One More Cup of Coffee” if L.Cohen were to cover a Dylan song. Having seen Cohen just last month in concert, I can imagine that Cohen (and his wonderful, often exotic sounding band) would do a sublime version of that song…and that was the first one that came to mind when this hypothetical question was posed. “Ring Them Bells” would also be wonderful in the hands of Cohen and his band.

    Another song that would sound lovely would be “Every Grain of Sand.” With the help of the Webb Sisters and Sharon Robinson, I imagine Cohen could do a fine, fine rendition of that song.

  11. Visions of Johanna!
    Or Tangled up in blue or Simple twist of fate.
    I didn`t like this version of Hallelujah, I favor Rufus Wainwrigths`s version, Dylan talks his way through the song, not singing this beatifull melody at all!

  12. I love LC’s “The Smokey Life” and think it has been overlooked. I’m not sure BD is the one, but it would be interesting to hear, perhaps paired with Adele.

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