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The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" [Hardcover]

Alan Light
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: £15.06
Price: £14.41 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" + God Is Alive Magic Is Afoot
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1ST edition (4 Dec 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451657846
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451657845
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I approached this book with some caution. How could the author hold my attention when the subject was just a single song? Of course it helps that the song, with its haunting tune and its ambiguous 'grown-up' lyrics, is an evident masterpiece. But Alan Light keeps its story moving, debates the possible interpretations of the song's many verses and slips in fascinating biographical details about Cohen, Buckley and the host of other luminaries with connections to the song. It's a must-read for fans of Buckley and, especially, Cohen. If his reputation as a great poet and lyricist needed any enhancing – which it doesn't – this book does just that. An engrossing read from start to finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Bridgey
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Holy of the Broken - Alan Light ***

Ok, so I am a massive Leonard Cohen fan and have been for a long time. As anyone who is familiar with his music/poetry knows his song lyrics can be very ambiguous and complex. With this in mind when I came across a book that promised to delve into the meanings of possibly his most famous song, Hallelujah, I jumped at the chance and snatched it up.

Alan Light starts off the book very promisingly, deconstructing the song line by line and offering various opinions on what the lyrics could have meant. As part of his research he has contacted an impressive cross section of society. From music legends to journalists to religious leaders, all manner of interpretations are offered and discussed. Unfortunately the great man himself, although giving his blessing for the book, refused to be interviewed.

All this sounds like all a Cohen fan could ever want, so why have I only given the book 3 stars? Firstly, out of the 230 pages (excluding acknowledgements etc etc etc) that actually deal with the song and its various versions only around 50 of these pages actually deal with the song lyrics themselves. The last 80+ pages just gave the impression of reading a phone book, whereby anyone and everyone who has ever so much as hummed the tune gets a mention. Not only do we learn their names, dates recorded and chart position/youtube views but we are constantly told what lyrics of the song they chose to include in their own composition. While this was interesting for the odd few major recordings (Buckley/Cale etc) it began to become very wary and repetitive.

Secondly, even though the cover does claim to deal with both Cohen's version and Buckley's, I couldn't help but feeling that the original was overlooked somewhat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what a work 25 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
great read, a look into the journey of one great song from an Album track to world Domination. how the cber of a cover gave a song his second and much bigger life is a terrific study, that sets a new Standard.
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