It's one of the best-loved songs in the history of recorded music, and the subject of a new book
It's been covered by all these people
In fact there are over 300 known versions
Bono has called it "the most perfect song in the world". And yet, "Hallelujah" didn't become a hit until decades after it was written...
1. It was originally composed by Leonard Cohen, and released on his 1984 album "Various Positions"
2. But Cohen's record company hated the album, describing it as a "disaster"
3. Another label put out the album, but "Hallelujah" wasn't even released as a single. People just kind of ignored it
And that's how things stayed for several years
4. The thing is, Cohen's is not the famous version. No, the arrangement everyone's familiar with is the work of John Cale, who covered the song in 1991
5. Cohen's original is very different, and features a whole bunch of verses that no-one sings anymore
6. In fact Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for "Hallelujah"
7. When Cohen heard that Cale was interested in covering the song, he faxed him FIFTEEN PAGES of potential lyrics
8. Jeff Buckley then covered Cale's version on his 1994 "Grace" album. But that wasn't a huge hit either. At least, not initially
9. In fact, 'Hallelujah' didn't really hit the mass consciousness until 2001, when Rufus Wainwright's version appeared on the "Shrek" soundtrack
10. The film's musical directors assumed the studio execs would object, but to their surprise, they loved the song
11. Rufus Wainwright had known Jeff Buckley while he was alive, but only came to love "Hallelujah" in the wake of his death
12. It was "American Idol", though, that propelled "Hallelujah" to the top of the charts at last
In March 2008 "Hallelujah" topped Billboard's Hot Digital Songs in the U.S. after a performance of the song by Jason Castro in the seventh season of American Idol.