I first heard "Hallelujah" by way of Jeff Buckley's still-definitive rendition. The fact that this version made a prominent appearance in a particularly memorable episode of The West Wing when that show was still going great guns (and later became an anthem of sorts in the wake of 9/11) does not diminish its emotional impact in any way. In fact, it is the divine commingling of Buckley's angelic voice and Leonard Cohen's religious-tinged imagery that makes this performance all-but-impervious to the usual pitfalls of overexposure.
Apparently, though, it was John Cale's take on the song (with slightly rejiggered lyrics) that inspired Buckley to record HIS version. So Cale certainly deserves his due in contributing to the life-cycle of this song.
And while it is Cale who is heard singing in the DreamWorks movie Shrek, it's DreamWorks artist Rufus Wainwright who performs the song on the soundtrack. Hmmm... wonder how that happened...?
And, of course, what goes around comes around... so it seems entirely appropriate to let Mr. Cohen weigh in on his own subject.
[MP3] [left-click] "Hallelujah"/Jeff Buckley [from the LP Grace, 1994]
[MP3] [left-click] "Hallelujah"/John Cale [from the Leonard Cohen tribute I'm Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1991]
[MP3] [left-click] "Hallelujah"/Rufus Wainwright [from the soundtrack to Shrek, 2001]
[MP3] [left-click] "Hallelujah" [live]/Leonard Cohen [from the collection More Best of Leonard Cohen, 1997]
Boy Omega is a Swedish artist who had the great good sense to cover Stephin Merritt on what has to rank as one of my favorite Magnetic Fields tracks. More on Mr. Omega in a day or two....
[MP3] [left-click] "Papa Was a Rodeo"/Boy Omega [from the "independent project/compilation" Our Love is Meaningless]
[MP3] [left-click] "Papa Was a Rodeo"/The Magnetic Fields [from the LP 69 Love Songs, 1999]