Hallelujah, it’s finished!

Leonard Cohen“I remember being on the floor of the Royalton Hotel, on the carpet in my underwear, banging my head on the floor and saying, “I can’t finish this song.”

Leonard Cohen

‘Hallelujah’ is one of Leonard Cohen’s most popular songs. And with good reason: it’s a beautiful tune with exceptional lyrics and an arresting chorus.

Now, it most certainly needs to be said that it took Jeff Buckley’s soaring honey vocals to reveal to the world its full potential. But, it was Cohen that did all the hard work.

Which brings me to the point of this post:

Songwriting, good songwriting, requires A LOT of hard work.

It took Cohen five years to finish ‘Hallelujah’, over which time he filled two notebooks and wrote 80 versus before finally settling on seven.

But get this: that amount of effort isn’t unusual for Cohen.

“They all take quite a long time,” Cohen said in an interview about the song. “And its no guarantee of their excellence. I have a lot of second rate songs that have taken even longer.”

So, as a songwriter, I have dedicated myself to spend inordinate amounts of time writing songs that may, in the end, turn out to be crap. And to make matters worse, even if they’re really good, there is no guarantee that they will be recognized as such!

So, I guess it’s a good thing that I really like songwriting, hey?

Now for some final words from the great man to carry me onwards:

“The only advice I have for young songwriters is that if you stick with a song long enough, it will yield. But long enough is not any fixed duration, its not a week or two, its not a month or two, its not necessarily even a year or two. If a song is to yield you might have to stay with it for years and years.”

And this is what happens when it yields:

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photo by: Hollywata