Saturday, February 13, 2010


Watching the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, I was somewhat surprised to see Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah being performed.

He's a Canadian, and he's a great poet, lyricist, and singer. I've liked him and his work for a long time, and I've liked the song since the first time I heard it...which was only a year or so ago; I was surprised at the time that I hadn't come across it earlier, and disappointed that I'd somehow missed it until then. There are several versions that one can watch/listen to, although the one I first saw was on YouTube.

I would have liked for Mr. Cohen himself to have performed the song at the ceremony, but k.d. lang's rendition was one of the better covers I've seen, brilliantly performed, and she's a Canadian singer/songwriter, too, so that's fine, I suppose.

If you didn't catch it, it's well worth searching for when it makes its way to reruns, video, YouTube or wherever. Meanwhile, there's a version here that she did at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame induction of Leonard Cohen in 2006. Somewhat different, but also good.

I was, however, wondering about the choice of song. I was listening to a simultaneous (well, almost) interpretation in Japanese, which I always find distracting: the English and the Japanese each vie for my attention, and I never feel as if I'm getting as much information as I would if I were listening only to one language or the other. I believe that I heard somebody describe the song as a "song of peace", which is nice Olympian sentiment but isn't the way that I'd describe the lyrics.

And I don't really see how, for example, "love is not a victory march" or "I did my best, it wasn't much" fit into the whole Olympic Games picture.

Nevertheless, it is an excellent song, and the performance was a suitably impressive part of a very impressive opening ceremony.

So...ah...hallelujah, I guess.

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