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Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research

 
Anonymous Coward
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11/25/2010 06:24 AM
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Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
[link to www.whowrotehallelujah.com]

Who really wrote the song “Hallelujah”?



“I stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my breath but Hallelujah”

Hallelujah, allegedly composed by Leonard Cohen is fast becoming the folk song of a generation. Few songs have been covered by more artists or featured in more movies. Thousands of newlyweds have walked down the aisle to its stirring tune and thousands more have made love to it.

It is this music critic’s opinion that the true composer of the piece is none other than…... Bob Dylan, “the Lord of song”. Actually, to be more accurate this isn’t quite my contention. Both men created the song as a collaborative piece…however ultimately it’s more Dylan than Cohen. It should, however, be made clear that the basic idea for the song was hatched by Cohen.

Interestingly, my name happens to be Cohen (and my own genealogical research does suggest we probably are distantly related) and my wife’s maiden name was Zimmerman: however not in any way suggesting that this makes my opinion more qualified than anyone elses. I am a fan of both musicians; however I must say I prefer Cohen, personally……despite this theory.

So why do I think Dylan wrote most of the song?

Firstly let’s examine some of the evidence:

There is no doubt that Bob Dylan’s connection to this song goes back longer than any artist, other than Leonard Cohen. Various versions of a meeting during the nineteen eighties between Dylan and Cohen where they discussed this song circulate on the web. Some versions have this meeting taking place in 1988, others prior to Cohen releasing the song in 1984. Sometimes the meeting is in Montreal, other times it is over coffee in Paris:

Peter Stone Brown writes:

Then there's the story Cohen tells about talking writing with Dylan and Dylan asks Cohen how long it took him to write "Hallelujah" (I'm remembering here, but I think it was that song) and Cohen said a year, then asked Dylan how long it took to write "I & I" and he said 15 minutes.

Leonard Cohen quoted in Telegraph 41, p. 30 . . .

"He said, 'I like this song you wrote called Hallelujah.' In fact, he started doing it in concert. He said, 'How long did that take you to write?' And I said, 'Oh, the best part of two years.' He said, 'Two years?' Kind of shocked. And then we started talking about a song of his called ‘I And I’ from Infidels. I said, 'How long did you take to write that.' He said, 'Oh, 15 minutes.' I almost fell off my chair. Bob just laughed."

From songfacts.com:

Leonard Cohen sang this to Bob Dylan after his last concert in Paris. The morning after, they sat down at a cafe and traded lyrics. Bob especially liked the last verse.

Dylan himself has performed this live, and there are bootleg versions in circulation of his version of this song. (Thanks, Daniel - Nova Scotia, Canada)

One thing is for certain: Both men go back a long way together.

Bob Dylan is regarded by millions as the greatest musician alive. His early songs such as “Mr Tambourine Man” and “Blowing in the Wind” along with countless others are and will remain classics of the highest order: the work of a musical and poetic genius. Few of us, however, could hum or even name any recent music by Dylan. Fame took a massive mental toll on Dylan and many of his hard-core fans claim he chooses to no longer write great music, having no further desire for recognition as a “genius” (he was never comfortable with this in the first place) and simply no longer wanting to be acknowledged as the composer of another incredible song.

So, from the first verse:

“Now, I've heard there was a secret chord

That David played and it pleased the Lord”

These lines were probably penned by Cohen. They refer to Bob Dylan himself. Cohen is basically asking Dylan why he no longer writes great music. It should be noted that Bob Dylan’s Hebrew/Yiddish name is “Shabsay Zissel”. Zissel is the definitive Yiddish version of the name David. Zissel comes from the German word for ‘sweet’ and David means 'beloved', however both names more accurately correspond to the English ‘dear’. Shabsay is the Kabbalistic equivalent of the name David. All of which would have been known to Cohen.

The next line probably partly written by Dylan, still has Cohen asking Dylan:

“You don’t really care for music do ya”

This of course mockingly refers to Dylan’s jaded attitude and the many self-depreciating comments about his musical ability.

Dylan’s now “replies”:

“It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah”

Here we are given the first hint within the song itself that Dylan composed the music for the chorus to the song.

At this stage it is essential that we listen to Dylan’s early ‘cover’ of the song (performed well before anyone else discovered this masterpiece)
It doesn’t sound like a cover, Dylan seems to own the song.

The “well really, what's it to ya” bit is too pure Dylan for comfort.

Contrast this to Cohen’s less flowing rendition of the line at around the same time;
We see also Dylan easily playing around with the words-as he does so often.

“She tied you to a kitchen chair

She broke your throne and she cut your hair “

…again, pure Dylan.

Now to verse three;

“You say I took the name in vain

I don't even know the name

But if I did, well really, what's it to you?

There's a blaze of light in every word

It doesn't matter which you heard

The holy or the broken Hallelujah”

The verse almost certainly refers to Dylan’s conversion to Christianity at his time. In this case the “holy hallelujah” refers to Judaism while the “broken hallelujah” refers to Christianity, alluding to Christianity being a derivative form of Judaism.

Most telling, however, is the last verse:

“I did my best, it wasn't much

I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch

I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you

And even though it all went wrong

I'll stand before the Lord of Song

With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”

This is an "in joke" shared by the two musical legends. Cohen talks of his inability thus so far to make the song what he wants it to be. The “Lord of Song” he stands before is none other than Dylan, with nothing but the concept for a song with the word hallelujah as its chorus and possibly other verses he was not yet satisfied with. Dylan then adds his magic and an enduring masterpiece is created.

This theory is in no way meant to diminish the brilliance of Cohen and in fact should only add to the mystique and story of this incredible song, having been composed by two of the greatest musicians alive.
Anonymous Coward
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11/25/2010 06:44 AM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
And then the guy who recorded the best version died soon after recording it.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/25/2010 06:50 AM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
And then the guy who recorded the best version died soon after recording it.

 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1156723


Yes i agree-this is the best version
Anonymous Coward
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11/25/2010 06:58 AM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Very informative. Thanks.

A Cohen married to a Zimmerman, Wow!

I'm not one to analyse or choose between these all time great songwriters/singers and there are some things in your post that I disagree with.
Anonymous Coward
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11/25/2010 07:04 AM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
I don't get it...

They're both still living... can't someone just ask them who wrote it? Are you saying Dylan doesn't want to take credit?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/25/2010 10:02 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
I don't get it...

They're both still living... can't someone just ask them who wrote it? Are you saying Dylan doesn't want to take credit?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1161493


I s'pose that is the suggesion
Anonymous Coward
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11/25/2010 10:07 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Brilliant song. KD absolutely nailed it at the Juno awards in 2006. I mean OWNS it. And she didn't write it. I believe it is a Cohen song through and through (he's fascinated with Christianity) but it's so good that it can become a performer's "own."
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/26/2010 04:13 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Brilliant song. KD absolutely nailed it at the Juno awards in 2006. I mean OWNS it. And she didn't write it. I believe it is a Cohen song through and through (he's fascinated with Christianity) but it's so good that it can become a performer's "own."
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1174718


KD Lang is one ugly woman though
Anonymous Coward
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11/26/2010 04:20 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Brilliant song. KD absolutely nailed it at the Juno awards in 2006. I mean OWNS it. And she didn't write it. I believe it is a Cohen song through and through (he's fascinated with Christianity) but it's so good that it can become a performer's "own."


KD Lang is one ugly woman though
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1173784



She can be pretty if she tries. But her voice is beautiful and amazing. Enjoy!

Anonymous Coward
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11/26/2010 04:22 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
KD Lang is one ugly woman though
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1173784


It's a woman?
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 1169508
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11/26/2010 06:13 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
c'mon she's wearing a skirt

they grow like that in alberta
Anonymous Coward
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11/26/2010 06:39 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Brilliant song. KD absolutely nailed it at the Juno awards in 2006. I mean OWNS it. And she didn't write it. I believe it is a Cohen song through and through (he's fascinated with Christianity) but it's so good that it can become a performer's "own."


KD Lang is one ugly woman though



She can be pretty if she tries. But her voice is beautiful and amazing. Enjoy!


 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1066468


I enjoyed her 2010 Winter Olympic performance of Hallelujah the most. Incredible visuals along with this song at the Olympic Cerimony.
flossy

User ID: 1175584
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11/26/2010 06:42 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Personally I dont give a rats who wrote Hallelujah, I love it , and I love it when someone sings it well.

I just went to the Leonard Cohen concert in Brisbane a few weeks ago and at the age of 75 I reckon he is better than he has ever been.

This man is amazing

I also think its unfair to criticize someone for their looks.
this is not what the world should be about and unfortunately is, lets all just pop out and get some surgery to make ourselves look like a movie star (who's had surgery to make her/himself look like a movie star)
rascal51

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11/26/2010 07:06 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Very interesting analysis OP. It is hard to disagree with your conclusion. The song has been woven into the soundtrack of our times.
"Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only then will you know that money cannot be eaten"

Cree prophecy
Anonymous Coward
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11/26/2010 07:10 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Yes, I wrote it. Thank you.
Mister ObviousModerator
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11/26/2010 07:14 PM

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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Well most of the songs that Bob Dylan got famous from were 'borrowed' from musicians much before his time...


In fact, Led Zeppelin did the same thing... they were never honest about it though. At least Bob Dylan was.


I think Hallelujah was written by Cohen, to be honest. But who knows, either one of them could have stolen it from a 1920s musician who couldn't argue about it since they're probably dead.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/27/2010 04:16 PM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
Well most of the songs that Bob Dylan got famous from were 'borrowed' from musicians much before his time...


In fact, Led Zeppelin did the same thing... they were never honest about it though. At least Bob Dylan was.


I think Hallelujah was written by Cohen, to be honest. But who knows, either one of them could have stolen it from a 1920s musician who couldn't argue about it since they're probably dead.
 Quoting: Mister Obvious


uncredited collaboration is huge in music
baffledking
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03/22/2013 01:19 AM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
I like your theory! Full disclaimer, I'm no distant relative of either of them, but to me, this theory just doesn't "feel" right. The style of writing seems to fit Leonard Cohen's more than Bob Dylan's IMHO. For instance, Cohen is more prone to obvious and slightly pompous biblical references that juxtapose everyday life again biblical mythology. The best lines of Cohen songs are often things you would never hear someone say.

Dylan, on the other hand, manages to hide a depth of meaning behind phrasings that often seem commonplace.

Hallelujah bears more resemblance to a song like Suzanne then any Dylan song I know of. In Suzanne, you have the story of two lovers that's split down the middle by a seemingly unrelated rewriting of Jesus as a sailor.

Both of these songs juxtapose the mundane with the divine in a way I wouldn't expect of Dylan.

You might reply that Dylan wrote Suzanne too. You'd definitely have me there!
Anonymous Coward
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03/22/2013 02:19 AM
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Re: Bob Dylan really wrote the song "Hallelujah" according to new research
You might reply that Dylan wrote Suzanne too. You'd definitely have me there!
 Quoting: baffledking 36641297

Dylan wrote Suzanne too!!!!!1

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