Ok, so allow me to make myself perfectly clear:
I take my music SERIOUSLY.
A simple beat doesn’t justify adding a song to my collection, oh no. There’s so much more to it than that. You see, when I look for new music, I’m looking for something you scarcely see in today’s top 40: quality.
The lyrics (99% of the time) have to be meaningful to some extent, and it must provoke some kind of emotion within me. Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, for example, is a fairly simple composition in terms of technical difficulty; the intervals are close together, the chord progression is common and predictable, and the notes fit comfortably within everyone’s vocal range. However, the heartfelt lyrics about King David’s mistake and the equally heavenly and agonizing nature of love and lust takes this song from a catchy tune and, almost magically, turns it into a beautifully crafted masterpiece that tears your soul clean in half, with one part transcending above all earthly limits into heaven and the other, anchored in hell. It is only when you’ve spent some quality time with the lyrics that you will realize and appreciate the unparalleled beauty of “Hallelujah”. Here’s a few of my favorite snippets:
“Love is not a victory march, It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah”
This line presents a sentiment that I believe we all can identify with. We’ve all experienced pain in a relationship, whether you’ve fallen in love with your best friend who’s in love with someone else or you’ve just discovered that your partner had betrayed or disappointed you (For whatever reason, you decide). We all know that feeling where you’re being put through so much emotional turmoil for the sake of this one person who you’re wholeheartedly and unconditionally in love with, that you’d willingly suffer copious amounts of pain because you can’t even bear the sheer thought of living life without them. Love isn’t always torrential and romantic, mind you. Love can and will at times be excruciating. Embrace it.
“Remember when I moved in you, and the holy dove was moving too; and every breath we drew was hallelujah”
Now, this particular phrase can be interpreted in several different ways, but I think that the one thing that remains constant in translation is this: When you’re finally with the one you truly love, the one that you’ve waited for and longed for, there’s this passionate moment between you and your partner where the attraction becomes so overwhelming and so consuming that you begin to feel something much bigger than yourself swell within you. I would go as far as to say that one is inspired at this moment. “Inspired?” you scoff, “But how?” I’m glad you asked. And really, the answer is quite simple. See, to be “inspired” means to be “breathed into by God“…. And as such, wouldn’t you agree that this moment of trembling rapture is the personification of inspiration? Completely in sync with each other, expressing your love with divine breath filling your lungs. So deeply connected on a physical and spiritual level that, for this moment, you are one….. and if that’s not inspiration, then I don’t know what is.
“And even though it all went wrong, stand before the Lord of song with nothing on your tongue but hallelujah…”
And this is where I was ever so slightly thrown off, but once I wrapped my head around it I fell even deeper in love. I absolutely adored the use of the word “Hallelujah” in this context. Whereas in previous verses the song’s title was associated with love of the flesh on both ends of the pleasure spectrum, the word’s usage in this phrase hints at a slightly different meaning. This time, in my opinion, it carries the connotation of desperation and of surrender; like the cries of a broken man on his knees confessing his sins and pleading, begging, for forgiveness (sound familiar?). But what does it mean to “stand before the Lord of song with nothing on your tongue but hallelujah”? Does it mean that you need not attempt to conceal your sins in front of the Father? Possibly. Perhaps it means that you should be downright terrified of your Judgement, or that you should beg incessantly for mercy. Ehh, it may, but probably not. Personally I think that, even though you gave in to temptation and done many a dastardly deed, you can rejoice in the fact that you are forgiven. God has had mercy on your soul, and you are forgiven. You’d approach God with nothing on your tongue but “Hallelujah”, simply because no other word could adequately express the immense joy and relief coursing through your body after realizing that you are forgiven, and that you are no longer bound by chains, but free.
Behold, the power of lyrics.