"It's, as I say, a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.... It's a rather joyous song," says Leonard Cohen, creator of the song, Hallelujah: "I wanted to write something in the tradition of the hallelujah choruses but from a different point of view... It's the notion that there is no perfection ~ that this is a broken world and we live with broken hearts and broken lives but still that is no alibi for anything. On the contrary, you have to stand up and say hallelujah under those circumstances."
Canadian musician Allison Crowe's uniquely potent interpretation is heard on her album/CD, "Tidings". "I love singing Hallelujah", she says. " It's such an awesome song. I just feel humbled. "
Allison Crowe's take on Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" so redefined an approach to the song it was plenty controversial in the early part of this century. Once that dam burst, and hundreds of covers poured forth, Crowe's version took its place as a much-loved, classic, interpretation.
The song's since marched into the mainstream with American Idol's Jason Castro, Lee DeWyze and by UK X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, Dutch X Factor champ Lisa Hordijk, Polish Idol's Kasia Popowska, The Voice's Nicole Nelson, New Jersey rocker Bon Jovi, and Battle of the Blades' skater Claude Lemieux. This popularizing continues - with Maddy Curtis, auditioning in 2010 for AI, then Matt Morris and Justin Timberlake duetting at the Hope for Haiti event, followed by Céline Dion w. Canadian Tenors on Oprah Winfrey - prelude to the 2010 Olympics opening ceremony version by kd lang. Opera's Renee Fleming and singer-actress Jennifer Hudson are among the recent to record Hallelujah. Steven Page sang it at a state funeral for Canadian politician Jack Layton in Summer 2011. In 2012, Allison Crowe performs "Hallelujah" with Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet for "The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen" - choreographed by Jorden Morris. In 2013, X Factor's Hannah Barrett, Ice Show's Florent Torres and more...
Leonard Cohen is inspiring audiences with his own revitalized take - witness Glastonbury 2008 to his newest concerts.
"Simply, a song so beautiful has never been sung so beautifully." ~ We Write Lists (UK)
"It's not hard to see why Crowe's Hallelujah -- recorded in a single take -- is popular. It's one of Leonard Cohen's most affecting songs, and the 26-year-old, accompanying herself on piano, makes it her own with raw honesty and formidable vocal power. It's simultaneously heart-breaking and redemptive, and it has captured the imaginations of people around the world. 'The song itself is just so emotionally resonant,' Crowe said modestly this week." ~ Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist (Canada)
"Bet you thought you heard all the versions you need to hear of this song, right? Think again, because Allison Crowe has a voice to fall in love with. She is from Vancouver Island in Canada, descended from Scottish, Irish, and Manx stock. She's exactly the sort of artist who can make serious headway on her own label and that's just what she's doing." ~ Record of the Day (Allison's recording of "Hallelujah", has the remarkable distinction of twice being selected "Record of the Day" by this premiere UK music newsletter/tip sheet ~ in August 2004 and November 2005.)
"Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah,' which, as performed by Allison Crowe, may be one of the most amazing things ever recorded onto magnetic tape." ~ Semper Ubi Sub Ubi (USA)
"I originally had a different version of 'Hallelujah' on that scene (Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II) - it was the version by Allison Crowe, and it was really beautiful. Too beautiful, as it turned out..." Zack Snyder, Director, Watchmen movie
"Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. This song has somehow become Crowe's signature, if a singer who defies description as stubbornly as she does has a signature... Cohen's original version is a spoken poem, all of the meaning contained in the words. Crowe's version is a living thing, a meditation and a celebration and a benediction." ~ anacronym (Canada)
"Crowe's warm, natural, passionate - and need I add lovely? - voice are perhaps shown to best effect on another glorious standard, Leonard Cohen's magnificent and deeply spiritual quest for faith, Hallelujah." ~ Martin Levin, Women's Post (Canada)
"j'ai rarement été bouleversée à ce point par une voix féminine. Pure comme de la glace, puissante et même violente sur la reprise de l'Hallelujah de Leonard Cohen." ~ SplinterMuse (France) (English translation: "I have never been so moved by a woman's voice. Pure as ice, powerful and even violent on the cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah".)
"(Jeff) Buckley especially just blew the song to pieces and every artist after him has tried and failed to put it back together. Until now. Allison Crowe manages to pump 'Hallelujah' full of all the soaring vocals and raw emotion that it requires. And the result is a big beautiful lump in the throat." ~ Muruch (USA)
" 'Hallelujah' is a bit of a sacred cow of a song and has been covered by artists too numerous to mention... I'll go with John Cale's world weary take and Allison Crowe's powerhouse of intensity as my yardsticks." ~ Martin Warminger, Music Obsessive (UK)
"...listen to what Allison Crowe does with the song. Her voice couldn't be more different from the stereotypical... Here is someone who feels the music and communicates. Simply stunning - full of real power and enormous feeling." ~ Radio Free Stan (USA)
"Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'... it's one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I am happy to report that Allison Crowe does it justice and then some. Her voice will give you chills. If it doesn't, check your pulse, you may not be alive. It's incredibly moving." ~ Amy Lotsberg, Collected Sounds (USA)
"a thunderously moving aural experience" ~ Teri McIntyre, Empowerment4Women (USA)
"HALLELUJAH is absolutely the best version I have ever heard of that song...and there have been some almost perfect recordings of it. But yours takes the cake. Powerful, yet vulnerable. Sexy and innocent. Just amazing." ~ Steven Stewart, MusicFreedom (Finland)
"...a radiant, rousing, celebratory rendition of Leonard Cohen's lovely 'Hallelujah' " ~ Shirley Goldberg, Mo Magazine (Canada)
In a (May 2007) roundup of "The Best Songs of All Time", alongside recordings by Johnny Cash ("Hurt"), Bruce Springsteen ("Jungleland"), and more, Semper Ubi Sub Ubi blog selected "Hallelujah" by Allison Crowe on Tidings, with this explanation: "Quite possibly the single greatest song ever recorded. Undeniably the best female vocal performance ever recorded. This song is best listened to during the winter, near a fireplace, while it's snowing outside. Any room will do, though, so long as it is equipped with good speakers and a light switch."
Allison Crowe is featured in a MOJO magazine CD tribute to Leonard Cohen - published in 2008.
Audio engineer/producer: Larry Anschell. Filming directed and produced by Alex Postowoi. Cameras: Karen Duthie, Randy Rotheisler. Editor: Shirley Claydon.