Amanda Palmer: "Hallelujah"

A clip from Amanda Palmer's live performance of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which she dedicates to a friend who is going through cancer treatment—a friend who first turned her on to Cohen's work many years ago.


  1. Beautiful and heartfelt, it inspired me to finally find the lyrics. Along with Tower of Song and so many others, the soulful power of his imagery makes me hope that ten thousand years after the fall there will exist, in remote hidden cloisters, a secret sect of gnostic Cohenite monks who murmur his words as midnight vespers offered to the Lord of Song.

    1.  I saw here earlier this year and she wore that corset, but I was all the way in the back, so I did not realize until I saw pictures later on that it had Klaus Nomi on it. That’s an awesome corset!

    1. Because it’s a concert.  People come to get entertained.  Stick with recordings if you just want to listen to the song.

      I gotta say, she sings with it passion, except the end, I didn’t like that way of ending it.  And I still prefer Cohen’s voice, maybe I’m so used to it.

      Cohen’s almost 80 and he’s still considered the man that defines cool.

      1. Yeah, but the noise you should make is proportional to the noise being made on stage, you could probably whoop through a metal gig and no one would even realise. I tried to listen to that song and I’m a fan of her work, but after the first or second whoop I had to turn it off, and shout at the screen. My reaction to that at a concert would be the same, but instead of shouting I’d be biting my lip.

        I’d understand if they were heckling, but whoops of approval? When an artist is clearly trying to produce something so specific and delicate, the correct way to show your respect (to the performer and the audience) is to be silent.

        1.  And whoop AFTERWARD.

          Whooping during has nothing to do with approval and everything to do with ego.

  2. Jeff Buckley’s version of this song cannot be topped by anyone ever again.  It’s even way better than Cohen’s.  

    1. Cohen himself has said that K D Lang does the definitive version of Hallelujah. And having seen both of them live, I’ve got to agree.

      1.  I know it’s pretty pedestrian, but I’m partial to the John Cale version… I can’t say I’ve heard the KD Lang version, but if LC likes it, it must be special.

  3. I just wish this had been done properly, with a tap from the mixing board, rather than having the boom of room resonance (and quite so much of the crowd noise). As it is, I honestly can’t hear her well enough to have any opinion on the performance.

    And no, I don’t think I can reprocess it enough to lift her out of the mud. Someone more skilled might be able to, but I’d be surprised.

  4. The KD Lang version with KD Lang singing to Leonard Cohen at an event honoring him (2006):

    My favorite live version of her singing the same song:

    I’m not a fan of Amanda Palmer. Good luck to her though.

    1. Every performer has at least one piece which they aren’t that delighted with (or are simply tired of) but which the audience keeps requesting. Possible responses are ignoring the requests, accepting the requests, going back and reworking it into something you’re happier with, or grumbling. Grumbling is probably the least useful option.

      Could be worse. Could have been a throwaway written just to fill out one side of a cassette but which became the single most popular song on that album. (ObFilk:_Banned_From_Argo_)

      Personally, I think the attraction of a lot of Cohen’s most popular work is that the near-stream-of-consciousness lyrics let you read just about anything you want into them, so the song appeals whenever you’re in anything like the right mood. Hallelujah, Susanne, … what it means is what it means, and what it is is what it is. And is is what is is. And what isn’t, isn’t, what?

      1.  There are clubs with a “No ‘Hallelujah'” rule for singers. I think it’s a great song, but that doesn’t change the fact that it has metastasized into a vehicle for allowing singers to demonstrate their Sensitivity by doing the vocalist equivalent of William Shatner’s acting.

  5. That’s lovely. I think I still prefer K.D. Lang’s version. 

    Interesting wardrobe malfunction at the beginning there. 

    1.  Didn’t notice it until you pointed it out… but that certainly explains the cut.

      Assuming she actually cares about that slippage (she may not), I would suggest a suitable adhesive to ensure that outfit stays where it belongs. Or an outfit with better (or better-adjusted) rigging. Or both.

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