My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve been a fan of Leonard Cohen’s songs for nearly 45 years. “Hallelujah” covers all the themes of Leonard’s songwriting: sex, death, and religion.
The Holy or the Broken covers the trajectory of Hallelujah from its appearance on a Cohen album that Columbia Records rejected to John Cale’s rendition to Jeff Buckley’s rendition – and beyond: particularly the song’s embrace by Simon Cowell on “American Idol.” It discusses Bono’s absolutely weird rendition of Hallelujah that appeared on the Tower of Song tribute album. The book helpfully contains QR codes that one can scan to get different covers of Hallelujah.
I am best acquainted with k.d. lang’s cover of Hallelujah on her Hymns of the 49th Parallel album. The Holy or the Broken makes me want to check out Cohen’s, Cale’s, and Buckley’s renditions – and also Neil Diamond’s rendition(!), which The Holy or the Broken describes as an effective reading.