I am not embarrassed to admit, although I probably should be, that the first time I heard Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah was while watching the movie Shrek. That film was released in April 2001, before my children were even born. Yet I remember it was one of my boys’ (now 12 and 14) all-time favorites growing up.
I must not have been the only one who heard those lyrics for the first time care of DreamWorks entertainment because over the next decade, you couldn’t make it through a single season of any of the reality talent shows without hearing young vocal hopefuls belting it out on stage after stage.
Not a single version held a candle to the rendition I heard on Shrek. I don’t know if it was because the male singer had a haunting yet beautiful melody that I didn’t expect to hear in an animated film or simply because his was the first performance of those soulful, yearning lyrics that ever graced my ears.
After learning that Leonard Cohen was the song’s writer, I studied his life and legacy. I was transfixed by the different lyrical interpretations for Halleujah. I added it to my list of Songs that Move Me and I Have No Idea Why so Stop Wondering and Just Enjoy Them Already.
When I learned he passed away on November 7, a familiar thought resurfaced.
Every person should have an understanding of what their life means to others before they leave this earthly world for their next adventure.
So, Mr. Cohen, thank you for giving not only me, but also my son, this classic melody that transcends generations. He learned the words for his third grade talent show and due to his hours upon hours of practicing, so did his little sister. I believe they were 9- and 4-years old, respectively, when I asked if I could record one verse.
A few weeks later, I held back tears as I watched my son stand in front of all his grade school classmates and sing this classic without fear or hesitation.
If you’re anything like me, you sometimes wonder when going through the daily motions of life if what you do really makes a difference in the grand scheme of things. How does one know if you are making the most of the years you are given when you are not in control of the quantity of those years, only the quality?
I plan, God willing, to live a long life – struggling to maintain humility and gratitude while living with the knowledge I make mistakes every single day. I also try to make people (myself included) smile every day. To not take life too seriously because we are all in this ride together and one never knows when you’ll be asked to step off the train to allow room for new passengers.
When Leonard Cohen originally penned the words to Hallelujah, he’d have no way of knowing that he would eventually give a mom he’d never meet a memory I will never forget.
Enjoy your week ahead with the other passengers on the train whom you inspire with or without your knowledge.
I’ll leave you with a couple more performances of Hallelujah for your listening pleasure.
Written by Heidi Woodard