Thomas G. Casey explores our cultural infatuation with the Leonard Cohen song and its many iterations:
Right now there are about 200 cover versions of the song available in various languages. ... How did a song with so many biblical references (none of which refer to the New Testament) become ubiquitous? How did a lyrical, slow-moving tune become popular in an era when aggressive percussion and insistent drum-beats power pop songs? Why has the song been used to create atmosphere and mood in the soundtracks of many movies and TV shows? Why can’t people get enough of it? ...
One reason that “Hallelujah” appeals is that it gives voiceand songto the spiritual hunger of millions who find it difficult or impossible to identify with orthodox expressions of their longings.
This song expresses their human fragility and their desire to be released from the shallowness of our age, which offers substandard spiritual fare. They search; they desire to reconnect with the transcendent, even though their search is often handicapped by an astonishing spiritual inarticulateness. The danger is that a lack of spiritual anchors will condemn them to aimless drifting or submersion in the inescapable sameness of a culture for which all forms of spirituality are of equal indifference, a culture not rooted in the definite contours offered by religious faith.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.