Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” Lyrics Meaning

“Hallelujah” is a song that was originally released in 1984 by another artist named Leonard Cohen. And we already analyzed the meaning of the original “Hallelujah”, with Jeff Buckley’s version being almost identical lyrically. However, there are a couple of notable differences. 

First is that he omits Cohen’s fifth verse. That is the specific part of the song which points to the idea that the word “hallelujah” is used in different applications throughout the song, outside of its general usage as a religious term. And this sort of leads us to Buckley’s own interpreting of the tune, in which he is specifically paying homage to “the hallelujah of the pinnacle of bedroom pleasure”.  In other words, the original version was primarily based on a romantic relationship.  But it also had somewhat of a religio-philosophical undertone. However, by omitting the fifth verse and being rendered more-sensually in general, Buckley’s rendition is focused even more on the romantic side of the lyrics. 

And in terms of ‘the peak of bedroom pleasure’, no part of the song necessarily points specifically to the concept of bedroom fun outside of the second verse. 

So at the end of the day, despite Buckley relaying and perhaps even understanding the song differently from Cohen for the most part, it reads similar to the original. And as such, “Hallelujah” is primarily based on a romance the singer is in, whose heyday appears to be a thing of the past. And he apparently namedrops a couple of prominent Biblical characters at the beginning of the track. He does so to point to the idea that like them, he too had basically sacrificed his better judgment due to being smitten by a beautiful lady.

Lyrics of "Hallelujah"

Facts about “Hallelujah”

  • This song was originally released by Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) in 1984. Since then it has earned the distinction of being one of the most-covered songs in history.
  • In fact Jeff Buckley (1966-1997) was inspired to drop his own rendition not due to the listening to the original but rather a cover of “Hallelujah” Welsh singer John Cale dropped in 1991.
  • However, it is Jeff Buckley’s rendition that really made this song popular. It came out on 23 August 1994. It was part of the only album he released during his lifetime. The album was entitled “Grace”. And the label behind its release is Columbia Records.
  • As with Leonard Cohen’s rendition of “Hallelujah”, Jeff Buckley’s version also took some years to blow up. And unfortunately unlike Cohen, Buckley was unable to fully enjoy the fruit of his labors, having passed away in 1997.
  • In fact Buckley’s “Hallelujah” wasn’t even released as a single until 2007, and the first time it actually charted was in 2006. This was about a decade after he died.
  • But in that regard, it’s had a hell of run, breaking the top 5 on music charts in Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Furthermore , it reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. 
  • In 2014, Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” was added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
  • Moreover in 2011, Rolling Stone placed it as number 264 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. And that’s just one of the many reputable rankings this track has been placed on, in addition to contributing to  the album “Grace” becoming a classic in its own right.
  • Buckley used to sing “Hallelujah” as the closing song during his live performances.

Jeff Buckley’s most Successful Song

Based on the above, it is safe to say “Hallelujah” is the most-enduring song of Buckley’s relatively-brief musical career.

Who wrote “Hallelujah”?

Leonard Cohen penned this masterpiece all by himself. He was also the first artist to ever release it. You can hear his original version below:

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