Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Hallelujah" needs Scorpio like Pasta Sauce needs Garlic

Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" is enjoying something of a re-birth in the UK. Alexandra Burke, winner of TV talent show "The X-Factor" sang it in the final since when it has whizzed up the charts there.
"Alexandra Burke has the #1 song in the UK during Christmas week with her version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Incredibly, a 1994 version of "Hallelujah" by the late Jeff Buckley is ranked #2, marking the first time in more than 50 years that the same song has occupied the top two spots on UK charts." (Here)

I've once or twice approached the natal chart of Leonard Cohen but have been wary of featuring it in a blog post. I enjoy his songs, but the man himself strikes me as a wee bit odd. I was pleased, therefore, when yesterday an astro-blogging colleague posted a piece about his natal chart - at Art and Astrology.

When I first looked at Cohen's chart I was surprised to note that he has no Scorpio planets. Death features often in his songs, which are almost always gloomy, self obsessed and melancholic. Here's an interesting point - two of the best interpretations of "Hallelujah", in my opinion, are by vocalists who do have a good helping of Scorpio in their charts.

kd lang's version is my absolute favourite, her chart appears in my post about her last year . It's interesting that kd has Mercury and Venus in Libra at 18 and 22 degrees, while Cohen's Mercury is at 17 degrees of Libra. Libra is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts including music, so there is linkage here. Perhaps that's why kd lang seems to understand what's really needed in that song - some good old Scorpio passion, to take it from quiet reflection to an anthem-like climax.

Jeff Buckley's version is good. I hadn't realised he was no longer with us. He accidentally drowned in 1997. He had lots of natal Scorpio (Sun, Mercury, Venus and Neptune all conjoined), but no Libra - something was still missing in his rendition, but it was a good attempt to put life into the lyrics. What's missing could be a strong singing voice, I guess, and this is where kd lang triumphs.

I have to say I'm fairly unimpressed by the "X Factor" winner, Alexandra Burke's version. That's just my personal taste though, and I'm obviously out of step with folks in the UK! She was born 25 August 1988 in Islington, London, UK. Sun and Mercury in Virgo, Moon in either Aquarius or Capricorn. No Libra unless it's rising, and only Pluto (generational planet) in Scorpio.

Cohen, lang, Burke and Buckley all have Virgo emphasised in their charts. Interesting. Cohen and lang are both great song writers, I think Buckley wrote too. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, and prominent in the charts of many writers. Perhaps Alexandra Burke will also shine in this area as her career progresses.

Leonard Cohen's own version of this song has to be definitive, but it's not truly musical. The lyrics and music have quality enough to allow many different interpretations to suit all tastes, and that's his genius. Cohen is bound to be interested in how other artists interpret his work.

YouTube has versions of "Hallelujah" by all those mentioned here, several others too.

kd lang's version


janina said...

well said. i'm a fan of the song very much and loved k.d.'s version best but i appreciate each version actually. something about the x-factor version to me lacks passion but she has a beautiful voice.

i think with a gemini twist it just perhaps might give it a different yet possibly better flavor?

happy holidays and thanks for sharing that.

Wisewebwoman said...

One of my favourite songs of all time, T. and I can't remember the name of the singer who gives it a wonderful interpretation that I had on my computer for a while, now long gone after a crash:(

Rossa said...

Well Alexandra Burke made it to No1 and Jeff Buckley's version got the No2 slot. First time the same song has been in the top 2 slots in the UK charts for 50 years or so.

So the X Factor winner does it again, though IMHO it is more to do with people trying to associate with what they perceive as a winner as in a little bit of stardust may rub off on them. The winner very rarely goes on to a successful career, Leona Lewis being the most recent and Will Young from Pop Idol a few years ago, still going strong. The rest have tanked. In fact, this will make you laugh Twilight, Will Young has just been invited onto Question Time in February. Mind you he did study politics at University, so it should be interesting, but the usual commentators are up in arms about “celebrities” appearing on so called serious programmes.

As a side note, Alexandra’s mother, Melissa Bell, was lead singer with Soul II Soul who were big in the 80s but still going strong, though Melissa is no longer with them as she has severe diabetes and is on dialysis 3 times a week. (lost her mother and 2 sisters to the disease as well) So her daughter has grown up around music and some of the best people in the industry. Not really a true “rags to riches” story but the back story with her mother wins the sympathy vote. (sorry my cynical head is on tonight).

Soul II Soul’s biggest hit called Back to Life from 89 with Melissa up front is here;-


You can see how daughter takes after Mum!

Happy Holidays to you and your family and I look forward to catching up with your posts next year.

Twilight said...

Hi Janina - Yes, a Gemini twist would be interesting! The song lends itself to all kinds of approach - mark of a good one!

Happy holidays to you too - peace and joy!

Twilight said...

Hi WWW ~~~ John Cale and Rufus Wainwright seem to be two of the other best known versions...perhaps one of those?

Happy Christmas, WWW! Peace and joy to you and yours.

Twilight said...

Hi Rossa

Hmmm - interesting info there, thank you - I'll have a listen to the link. alexandra has the looks to help her get past the Christmas hit parade, which is a bit false, after all. Hope she does well, it'll be interesting to watch her progress.

I was in the UK when Will Young won - I thought he'd stay on the scene one way or another - a very personable lad, I thought, articulate and charming.

All good wishes to you and yours for a peaceful, happy Christmas and a good New year.

I'll probably trundle on blogging throughout, all being well - if an ice storm doesn't knock us off line. It'll keep me off the streets and away from the chocolate and scotch ;-)

Rossa said...

You mean to say you haven't got a stash hidden away somewhere for the raid at midnight!

We're having a quiet one this year. Just me and my Mum. Plenty of R&R, so will look in from time to time for any posts you fancy putting up.

Couldn't resist passing this one on.....should raise a smile.


Fionna (aka Rossa) xx

Twilight said...

Rossa - Oh that is precious! Thanks -- LOL! Love it!

Enjoy your R & R with Mum.

The Next President of The United States said...

Something I've noticed over the years: When male singers cover a Leonard Cohen song, they always end up trying to sound like Leonard Cohen - inflections, tone, etc.
That's even true of Darrell Scott's version of "Joan of Arc," which is included on the "Modern Hymns" album you received for Christmas.
Guess Cohen can take that as an ultimate compliment.

Twilight said...

Hi TNPOTUS - now that's something I hadn't noticed - interesting!
We only listened to a couple of Darrell Scott's when we got home, but I have the cd in my computer as I type - and will investigate the phenomenon you mention :-)
As you said - he's very good!

Anonymous said...

Stopped reading after you denounced Jeff Buckley's singing voice. Are you kidding me? Do some research before you post things.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ You stopped reading?
Pity. Closed minds not admitting of other opinions are part of what's wrong in the USA these days.

I did say Buckley's version is good, but few would argue that his voice is a strong true singing voice - similar to k d lang's. He's an artist, more of a stylist or interpreter, in my opinion.
But you've stopped reading again, haven't you?