“That song ‘Hallelujah’ has resonance for me.” Bob Dylan Praises, Sings Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

Bob Dylan Talks About Hallelujah


That song ‘Hallelujah’ has resonance for me. There again, it’s a beautifully constructed melody that steps up, evolves, and slips back, all in quick time. But this song has a connective chorus, which when it comes in has a power all of its own. The ‘secret chord’ and the point-blank I-know-you-better-than-you-know-yourself aspect of the song has plenty of resonance for me.1


Bob Dylan


Leonard Cohen Sings “Hallelujah” To Bob Dylan


[Hallelujah is] a rather joyous song. I like very much the last verse. I remember singin’ it to Bob Dylan after his last concert in Paris. The morning after, I was having coffee with him and we traded lyrics. Dylan especially liked this last verse ‘And even though it all went wrong, I stand before the Lord of song With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah.’2


Leonard Cohen


Of course, no post about Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and “Hallelujah” would be complete without the anecdote, a classic in Cohen’s repertoire, about the contrast in the time required by Dylan and Cohen to compose a song. The story appears in several Cohen interviews. The following iteration is from Leonard Cohen, Los Angeles 1992, a section of “Songwriters On Songwriting” by Paul Zollo:


That [‘Hallelujah’] was a song that took me [Leonard Cohen] a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years. Then I praise a song of his, ‘I and I,’ and asked him how long it had taken and he said, ‘Fifteen minutes.’ [Laughter]


Leonard Cohen


Bob Dylan Sings “Hallelujah” Montreal & L.A. 1988

Dylan was one of the first artists to cover “Hallelujah,” performing it twice in his 1988 concert tour, in Montreal and Los Angeles.

Bob Dylan – Hallelujah
Montreal: July 8, 1988

Bob Dylan – Hallelujah
Hollywood: Aug 4, 1988

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Mar 19, 2018.


  1. From Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker by David Remnick. New Yorker: October 17, 2016. []
  2. From 1985 interview published in Paroles et Musiques. []

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