HALI was a big fan of the late musician Jeff Buckley. Like most artists you “find” it is always a love/hate thing when they become popular or one of their records takes on a life of its own. Such is the case with Mr. Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, the arrangement of which has in turn been covered over and over for the past 25 years.

The song’s accession into a modern standard is documented in the book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah” by Alan Light. The story of the song and how it became an anthem for a generation is as interesting as the song is haunting and a pop culture chronicle of our recent history.

About The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah” by Alan Light: “A fascinating account of the making, remaking, and unlikely popularizing of one of the most played and recorded rock songs in history—Leonard Cohen’s beautiful and heartrending ‘Hallelujah.’ It’s become a staple of movie and television shows as diverse as Shrek, The OC, and The West Wing. It was the song MTV and VH1 chose for their official post-9/11 tribute video, using Jeff Buckley’s acclaimed rendition, and was the centerpiece of the telethon that followed the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Today, it is one of the most recorded rock songs in history, covered by hundreds of artists, including Bono, Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Susan Boyle, and Celine Dion. Yet when iconoclastic rocker Leonard Cohen first wrote and recorded the song ‘Hallelujah,’ it attracted little attention or airplay, not even making it onto his own ‘Best’ of” album. How did one unknown song become an international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, one which each successive generation feels they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own?”

The most interesting thing about “Hallelujah” is that I think most people have no idea what the song means. The legendary Leonard Cohen gave us a song that is so scary good that it means whatever you want it to. And by the way, Mr. Buckley’s version is still the best. Sorry Susan Boyle.

The Holy or the Broken by Alan Light is available from Barnes & Noble (yes, Barnes & Noble) and other fine book retailers.