Friday, June 06, 2008


So we have the iPod playing the other night and "Hallelujah" comes on. This is not an unusual occurance, as we have four versions of the song on my iPod. This was the Rufus Wainwright version, but I also have Leonard Cohen's, Jeff Buckley's and k.d. lang's live version.

I don't know if this is my favourite song, or even Cathy's favourite. But surely god it is one of the very few songs that we agree is amazing (let's put it this way, the anniversary CD is proving challenging this year. I'm finally running out of songs we both like). But we started talking. A lot of people have covered this song, but we wondered who else we would like to hear cover it because we think they would do a great version of it.

So this isn't so much a "which version is better" question, but instead it's a "who would you want to hear cover this song." As it turns out, quite a few have covered it over the years. But here's our list of people we want to hear sing this song:

1. U2 (although it seems Bono covered it. I must find that now)
2. Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
3. Tori Amos (that's all mine. Cathy hates Tori)
4. Neko Case (again mine, for the same reasons)
5. Corrinne Bailey Rae
6. Tom Waits
7. Ron Sexsmith
8. Ron Hynes
9. Johnny Cash (yes, he's dead. It would still would have been a great version)
10. Tony Bennett
11. The White Stripes
12. Hawksley Workman

And here's the list of people who should be executed on sight if they even think about covering the song.
1. Celine Dion
2. Mariah Carey
3. Rod Stewart
4. Bryan Adams
5. Britney Spears

And having seen the list of people who have covered the song, I now need to hunt down John Cale's and Allison Crowe's versions. And what are your suggestions?

Last Five
1. 11 o'clock, tick tock - U2
2. Miss teen wordpower - The New Pornographers*
3. Anywhere I lay my head - Scarlett Johansson
4. No reason to cry your eyes out - Hawksley Workman
5. Have you no pride - The Donnas


Jennith Peart said...

Oooh. I'd love to hear a Tori Amos cover of Hallelujah too. It would be cool, nice and haunting maybe like her cover of Teen Spirit

Geoff Meeker said...

I have the Bono cover of Hallelujah. It's from the Tower of Song cover compilation from 1995. It's a very uneven album, with a bit too much C&W for my liking (Aaron Neville's voice is wasted on country). Bono's cover is a hip-hop techno fusion, in which he raps the verse then sings the chorus in a goofy falsetto. Also interesting is Peter Gabriel's cover of Suzanne. Oh yeah, and Tori Amos covers Famous Blue Raincoat (interesting but spacy as usual - you could drive a truck between the notes).

KOTN said...

I'd add Oh Suzanna to that list, because anything that features Suzie's voice to me is pure gold.

towniebastard said...

Thanks for the warning, Geoff. That sounds positively awful. If it was '95 then Bono was in the middle of his techno phase, which is one of the few times I didn't like U2's music. I'll give that a pass.

And yes Kent, Oh Suzanna would likely do a pretty nice version of the song as well. I wouldn't mind hearing that.

Kiggavik said...

I just read a blog recently talking about Hallelujah, but I can't for the life of me remember who's. Perhaps Deus Ex Malcontent. It was just after the perpetually stoned, dreaded contestant on Idol butchered it (to surprising rave reviews from the Judges). It had a couple of really interesting links including the Wikipedia one.

I'm not sure who I'd like to hear cover it, as I don't think some of my favourite artists would do that good a job, just not suited to them. Funny how some songs just beg to be covered and some should have covers of them made illegal (Note to Madonna - American Pie is one of those songs that should NEVER be covered, and just in case you're considering it so it Unchained Melody)

I think Shannon McNally would do a decent job of it. Anyone but Jason Castro again.

towniebastard said...

Sadly, someone from Canadian Idol is likely to try it this season. One more reason why that show must die.

I don't know why, but when I was reading your response, Clare, I was thinking Gordon Lightfoot would probably do a good version of the song.

It think it's a song where singers whose voices have character can pull it off. There are lots of pretty, but indistinctive voices out there. But those people whose voices can be communicate something extra could really pull of "Hallelujah". Others would just make it sound flat or uninspiring.

Adrian said...

You don't have to find Allison Crowe at home in Corner Brook - there's audio and video online:

(this weekend, she's on Canada's other west coast - her birthplace of Nanaimo, B.C.)

Hallelujah - Tidings album

Hallelujah - Fan Club DVD

There's dozens of versions of Hallelujah to be found @
My Old Kentucky Blog

Sláinte, Ad (looking for a news article on Allison, and finding your blog!)

Scarlet said...

I'm sorry but nobody should ever do that song except Leonard Cohen. If he sings it on Sunday night I will cry like a baby.

Kiggavik said...

That is strange, because this afternoon I was thinking about this post and I also thought of Gordon Lightfoot doing a cover of it. Great minds....

John Mutford said...

Hi there,
I had to weigh in on this one. I collect versions of this song. Among the rarities I have are Gord Downie's cover and Sad Kermit. My favourites fluxuate between Buckley's and Crowe's. Imogen Heap and Aroof Aftab do decent versions as well. Watching k.d. do it live was great, but without seeing her fill up, something seems lost. Bono gets credit for having one of the more unique versions, but it's taken me a long while to warm up to it even remotely. The others I have are John Cale, Willie Nelson, and Regina Spektor. I've seen a few more out there but they're low-quality concert bootlegs so I didn't bother. I love your wishlist. The only additions I can think of are Nina Simone and R.E.M. As for my "Please God Don't Do It" list, I'd add Josh Groban, P. Diddy and while I love her to pieces, Bjork.