How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ – The New York Times

“Leonard Cohen’s ballad “Hallelujah” has become so inescapable that the songwriter once asked for a break from his own track. “I think it’s a good song, but too many people sing it,” he told the Guardian in 2009, agreeing with a critic who asked for “a moratorium on ‘Hallelujah’ in movies and television shows.

”It appears that the producers of Sunday night’s Emmy Awards were unaware of the unofficial ban. When the In Memoriam segment began, it was accompanied by Tori Kelly’s gentle acoustic guitar strumming as she started its first verse: “Well, I heard there was a secret chord.” ”

Source: How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ – The New York Times

I love this song, and was inspired to write the following comment for the NYT.

The folk anthem of my teens was possibly “Kumbaya.”  “Hallelujah” is such a lovely improvement. If it has become a candidate for the current national folk anthem, a folklorist and folk singer like myself might argue, it can’t be over-sung. I haven’t memorized the words yet, but it is such a gorgeous piece of music and poetry, it is on my list, senior citizen that I am, of new songs to possibly learn and perform.

For centuries, even millennia, people learned songs through the oral tradition, which has been short circuited by the advent of electronic media and inexpensive print communications, in just the last century. Before radio and phonographs, everyone sang, or danced, or played an instrument, or did all three, because you couldn’t get these arts out of a box done by others, unless you went to the theater.

At some point, I will review all the listings in this article, but my guess it that I will find it hasn’t been done enough, because so many of us don’t know it well enough to perform it ourselves yet. What makes an anthem or community song truly great, is when the audience also knows it well, and sings along, in four or six part harmonies. TV and movie directors will have to indicate to audiences, when it is polite for everyone to sing along with the performer on the screen.

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