Presented with Comment - Best Cover Song Ever?
It is time for our Sunday piece, Presented with Comment, where each week Michael and Nicholas La Torre take a turn engaging in a debate over alt topics of interest and gauging the audience's views on the issues at hand. To do this, the authors will present examples to support their opinions and not only get the audience's view on the two sides presented, but seek feedback from the audience on alternatives as well.
This week, Nicholas is responding to Michael's submission of Nothing Compared 2 U by Chris Cornell. I personally love the Sinead O'Connor cover, but hadn't heard the original version. For my submission, I want to discuss a cover song that I believe is universally loved. Jeff Buckley's cover of Hallelujah, originally of Leonard Cohen, is not only one of the best ever covers, it's also one of the most beautiful tracks of all time.
Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
For starters, Buckley has amazing guitar playing abilities so the melody he plays at the beginning is lullaby-esque and you almost forget anything is coming next. One area that Buckley is lauded constantly is for his incredible vocal register. His vocals could span four octaves and you get a glimpse of that in his various renditions of the tune. With his cover of the legendary track, Buckley made a huge impact on the music charts, even reaching number 1 in various charts. In fact, it's ranked number 259 on the Rolling Stone Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The lyrics of the song were beautiful to start with, but Buckley's interpretation with some musical differences really elevated the song into households across the world.
Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
Don't get me wrong, Leonard Cohen is one of the all time greats, but he should thank Jeff Buckley for introducing his music to an entirely new generation. Many a Google searches after Buckley Hallelujah hysteria led to info and other music by Cohen, creating a bit of a bounce back for the artist. Not that he ever really went anywhere.
But what is most surprising to folks who were introduced to the song by the Jeff Buckley version is that there was another version between the Cohen and Buckley releases, which actually propelled the song in popularity before Jeff Buckley got a hold of it. If you listen, it actually sounds like an interesting segue between the two versions of the song. Have a listen:
Hallelujah - John Cale
After hearing this version, you understand the Buckley version a bit more, but it doesn't take away from how great all version of the song are. You now hear millions of covers on youtube and tv shows constantly and that all started because someone decided to cover an already great song. It has since transformed in so many ways, you can appreciate almost any way it is presented. What is almost always included is passion that is built right in through the words and everyone's desire to pay tribute to them. Tell me this isn't the greatest cover of all time...