Our tribute to Leonard Cohen on Friday was so well received that we got requests for more videos of his songs. We will be posting some of his other works in the future, but today we're extending the tribute by posting one of the latest versions of his signature song Hallelujah, in Yiddish, performed by Daniel Kahn.
Hallelujah has been performed by almost 200 artists in various languages. The song is the subject of the book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of 'Hallelujah' (2012) by Alan Light.
In a New York Times review Janet Maslin praised the book and the song, noting that "Cohen spent years struggling with his song Hallelujah, which eventually became one of the most "oft-performed songs in American musical history."
This week Jordan Kutzik's article in The Forward tells about how he got Daniel Kahn to record his Yiddish version. Kutzik wrote:
A world-class singer of more traditional Yiddish fare and a brilliant songwriter in English in his own right Kahn’s unique genius lies in his self-described “tradaptations,” his translations and adaptations of songs across languages. He, along with his friend and mentor the late Theo Bikel, is one of the few masters of creating singable English versions of Yiddish songs.
Due to the confines of rhyme and meter song translations always vary a bit in literal meaning from their source material. As such the English subtitles are a literal translation of Kahn’s version of the song rather than Leonard Cohen’s original text. As you will see the two vary in some ways but match entirely in spirit.Enjoy!