…writes about Leonard Cohen, and you should read it. It made me want to turn on some Cohen right now. I think I will….
While he himself is perfectly willing to shuffle the order of the verses, Cohen – in every version I’ve heard (and thanks to Youtube, this is many) – ends with the declaration: “And even though it all went wrong, / I’ll stand before the Lord of Song / with nothing on my lips but Hallelujah!” It all goes wrong, but he’s still proclaiming Hallelujah!, despite it. Defeated, nihilist moan it is not. Rather, like the proclamations of love in the Song of Songs, it is the declaration of a spurned lover, still in search of the beloved.
It isn’t just about G-d, and by no means are all his writings. (Ignoring the other sides and aspects of his lyrics is also to cheapen them.) But to secularize his work can be to lose the depth and beauty of the words themselves.