3 April 2008

From Your Lips She Drew the w00t

I'm still having DVD issues with my laptop and was thus forced to resort to videos I have stored on the hard drive of my computer when I was looking for some mindless distraction ce soir. Sadly, both hard drives on my computer are rather full so I rarely keep films after I've seen them once - mainly because there are so many new films I usually want to see that unless I really love a film, the chances are that I'm probably not going to watch it again, which means that when it's purge time (last week), the excess fat is trimmed quite severely.

Anyway, the fallout of this is that I had a choice between the season four (and series) finale of The O.C. (which I converted to a video format that makes it viewable on my iPod and so have seen many times already; nice as it is to see Seth and Summer getting married in the future, and Ryan happy without Marissa, it gets a little old) or the season three finale of The O.C. in which everyone graduates and is all set for their awesome new lives - except Marissa who dies. She ends up in an awful car crash after her crazy, stalky, dangerous, toxic, criminal but hot ex ends up chasing her car off the road, and although Ryan carries her out of the wreckage in time to stop her getting blown up, she dies a spluttering, panting, bloody death in his arms and - controversially but probably appropriately - dares not to say, "I love you."

As she's dying, Imogen Heap's instrument-free version of Hallelujah sounds out Ryan's little flashbacks of all the times he's picked her up and saved her previously (and did she learn? Was she grateful? Not even!). I was very excited when I heard that Imogen Heap was going to be covering Hallelujah in the finale given that I discovered IH through the show and really got into Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah thanks to the show and I do quite like the cover, even though I don't like it as much as other IH songs or as much as other versions of Hallelujah. To me, it's quite haunting, though that's probably just because I associate it with Marissa's Tradgick Deth.

Coincidentally, directly after watching M's demise, I came across a weekly feature on the Paper Cuts blog on NYT, in which writers and other literary folk choose their own playlist of songs, and this week, someone called A.M. Homes is featured whom I don't know but who selected Hallelujah (five versions thereof) as one of her choons. On the song she sez:

On my I-pod I have five versions I listen to them in no particular order, one after the other - k.d. lang, Jeff Buckley, Bono, Brandi Carlisle and Leonard Cohen live. Each version turns out the song in a different way, Bono’s version kicks off with a low electronic beat that bangs through your body competing with your heart in a way that is primitive, tribal, like an induction, an indoctrination. Jeff Buckley rhapsodizes with a plucked electronic string, stinging like the burning of an injection, of something being shot through you. Buckley’s voice is both delicate and male and sings as if reaching upward toward the heaven. His “Hallelujah” is out there before a single word is sung. “Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord, but you don’t really care for music do ya” (as an aside - damning the person for their lack of love). Bono offers it, almost as an aside, like he’s telling you something off the record, a whispered rushed confession with wobbly electronic bubbling in the background that cracks open into a glorious, ecstatic, high pitched hallelujah. k.d. lang plunges right in with a haunting rolling piano intro, her voice is like liquid velvet pouring it out, rising to the “Hallelujah” managing to be simultaneously mournful and sexy: “Well your faith was strong but you needed proof you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya.” She breathes it out, like it’s life itself: “Well it goes like this the 4th, the 5th, the minor fall the major lift, the baffled king composing Hallelujah.”

A bit Pseuds' Corner-ish but as I can't write about music, I can't really talk. "Oh, what a world," sang Rufus Wainwright, but in this case, what a word would perhaps be more appropriate, as faithful hallelujah gets whipped out time and time again. I'm not a massive fan of the Leonard Cohen original, I only recently heard k.d. lang's version and much as I like Shrek, Rufus Wainwright's doesn't really do it for me. I'm not really sure what it is about Jeff Buckley's cover that really does it for me. According to Rolling Stone, he called it an homage to "the hallelujah of the orgasm." I suppose Delilah's quite a femme fatale, as Biblical characters go, what with making you fantasise about her lips after she's destroyed you and Bathsheba had rather cuisses légères and all - if Elizabeth Wurtzel is to be believed, anyway.

It's the Hallelujah Verse that begins, "Baby, I've been here before..." that tends to reverberate in my mind, often without me even intending to, although perhaps this is just because I have listened to it so many times that it has just got stuck. Definitely the verses rather than the Hallelujah Chorus, anyway. Anything even vaguely deja-vu-esque sets me rolling, as does going to the London pad, which is near Marble Arch (maybe it's the fact it evokes the marble arches of London, New York and Paris...). Perhaps it's the emo-ness of, "but love is not a victory march / it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah" that triggers my lyrics-o-meter in a big way.

Alternatively, I could just like it because I can actually hold the tune reasonably well. Indeed, Maman even caught me singing it while we were in France and remarked that she was surprised to hear I'd learnt some pitch or something; sadly, it only applies to one song, though I'm sure that with months of absent-minded and stolen practice, I could probably add another to my repertoire. I'm far too embarrassed to get singing lessons. Anyway, if I wanted to have music lessons, I'd learn to play the guitar - something that is on my long-term to-do list - just because I love the sound of a twangy guitar, like Jeff's tortured pluckings in the song in question. Yes, it would definitely be cool to be able to play Hallelujah on a guitar - that and Wonderwall; even though the latter doesn't even make my top 50 most played in iTunes any more, it's still a cool song to play on the guitar.

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