Best Song Ever Written by a Canadian

L CohenHallelujah, by Leonard Cohen.

I recently heard this song in the film Saint Ralph (sung by Gordon Downie of the Tragically Hip). A few days ago I saw a live performance of it sung by a women who I believe might be an opera singer (she could really belt it out). And in both instances, the audience seemed to slip into a state of awe.

So I went home and tried to play the song on my cheap, always-out-tune classical guitar. Once I got the tune right, I wrote out all the lyrics and gave it a go. I discovered that even when played badly, it’s an impressive tune. That’s what I call a good song. Try it yourself and see what happens…

UPDATE (Sept. 19/06): Darren Barefoot recently wrote about this song and pointed me to this site where you can listen to 33 different versions of the song.

Now I’ve {G} heard there was a {Em} secret chord
That {G} David played, and it {Em} pleased the Lord
But {C} you don’t really {D} care for music, {G} do ya? {D}
It {G} goes like this: the {C} fourth, the {D} fifth
The {Em} minor fall, the {C} major {D} lift
The {D} baffled king composing Halle{Em}lujah

Halle{C}lujah, Halle{Em}lujah, Halle{C}lujah, Halle{G}lu{D}u{G}jah

Your {G} faith was strong but you {Em} needed proof
You {G} saw her bathing {Em} on the roof
Her {C} beauty and the {D} moonlight over{G}threw ya {D}
She {G} tied you to a {C} kitchen {D} chair
She {Em} broke your throne, and she {C} cut your {D} hair
And {D} from your lips she drew the Halle{Em}lujah

Halle{C}lujah, Halle{Em}lujah, Halle{C}lujah, Halle{G}lu{D}u{G}jah

You {G} say I took the {Em} name in vain
{G} I don’t even {Em} know the name
But {C} if I did, well {D} really, what’s it {G} to ya? {D}
There’s a {G} blaze of light in {C} every {D} word
It {Em} doesn’t matter {C} which you {D} heard
The {D} holy or the broken Halle{Em}lujah

Halle{C}lujah, Halle{Em}lujah, Halle{C}lujah, Halle{G}lu{D}u{G}jah

I {G} did my best, it {Em} wasn’t much
I {G} couldn’t feel, so I {Em} tried to touch
I’ve {C} told the truth, I {D} didn’t come to {G} fool ya {D}
{G} And even though it {C} all went {D} wrong
I’ll {Em} stand before the {C} Lord of {D} Song
With {D} nothing on my tongue but Halle{Em}lujah

Halle{C}lujah, Halle{Em}lujah, Halle{C}lujah, Halle{G}lu{D}u{G}jah…

Note: The D at the end of each verse seems to hang, beginning with: “The {D} baffled king composing Halle{Em}lujah.” From what I can tell, there’s no chord between the D and the Em. Definitely what you’d call a dramatic pause. It does the job. And sorry I couldn’t post a recording of the song as a guide, but if you already know the song, you shouldn’t have any trouble following my transcription. Enjoy.