Saturday, 25 December 2010

The Most Subversive Song Ever

This must be shared.

Beijing York said in the comments here:
I don't know what these three comics cover in their routine but I would love to see a stand-up routine that skewers Christians for their misuse of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". I was listening to some Songs in Season concert on CBC and sure enough they had to sing it.

Anyway, this person does a good job of skewering this gross misunderstanding of what the song is about:

I love this line:

And yet the song itself is never appropriate where it’s placed. It’s like putting a poster of Geurnica up in a nursery. Yes, beautiful, but utterly inappropriate. Hey kids! Look at the mutilated horsey head! Freaky, huh?

Here's the link made clickable.

The discussion thread's title is 'The Most Subversive Song Ever?'

I liked this bit.
Yet the song with its haunting melody and refrain like a stiffy at a funeral keeps popping up in all the most inappropriate spots (the exception being the movie “The Watchmen” in which it was actually shown during a sex scene. That’s the only version in any movie I’ve ever seen that used the original version by Leonard Cohen rather than a cover. I think the director was sending a message: we understand what it’s REALLY about.)

The commenter thinks Jeff Buckley does the best cover of it.

Me, I just loooooove k.d. laing's version of it, even though the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Owe-lympics was another stunningly inappropriate venue for it.

My xmas gift to DJ! readers:


Beijing York said...


fern hill said...

You could do this yerownself, yanno.

Just sayin'. . . .

Merry Merry, BY. :-)

Anonymous said...

Fern Hill,

I always thought of your screen name as reflecting the poem and loved it as I do the poem. Here we are feeling young and easy under the apple boughs only to realize later that our first impression of life won't be our last.

I do like to drop by from time to time.

I am glad you presented this piece on the Hallelujah. Unfortunately the original author over at political groove, despite some keen observations and nice turns of phrase, is wrong. It is entirely appropriate to be ironic, even subversive, at the opening of the Olympic Games.

Leonard Cohen's spiritual journey does meditate on sex and death. They're two great and timeless themes. As a great poet Cohen is able to choose words pregnant with meaning. He's one of the few popular lyricists worth spending time contemplating.

To appreciate Cohen you need to understand something of the Talmud and Jewish culture. Seeking truth, he laments that the superficial sometimes is mistaken for authentic spiritual and religious experience. Your anger with "Christianists" is motivated by the same sort of insight about their hypocrisy. True believers feel the same way.

I think it is a good idea to remind the young at the peak of their physical prowess that someday this will pass. There is more to life than this magnificent spectacle. Our modern Olympic Games were inspired by the the ancient Greeks. They knew well the myth of Sisyphus who is condemned to a life of meaningless toil. Like Hamlet we are sometimes paralyzed meditating on morality and our own mortality but it must be done to be fully human.

The original commentator over at political groove then turns to T.S. Eliot, a convert to Anglo-Catholicism who's poems cannot be understood without reference to Christian themes and classical western myths. "We are the hollow men..." That's exactly what Cohen regrets, the superficiality of society and religion.

We need to think about that. Perhaps not to whisper "You're going to die." as a welcome to the newborn, but why not to adolescents and youth?

and so "Fern Hill"

"Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea."


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