Book Review: The Holy or the Broken – Alan Light

The Holy or the Broken coverTitle: The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”
Author: Alan Light
ISBN: 9781451657852
Pages: 288
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5


The song “Hallelujah” has become iconic. It’s used everywhere, from reality shows to benefit concerts, and it strikes a chord with the American public. But the song’s history is more tumultuous than one would think; Leonard Cohen’s label refused to release the album the song was on. And the version we all know and love? That’s Jeff Buckley’s cover, not Cohen’s original lyrics. Alan Light delves into the complicated history of “Hallelujah,” trying to discover what made this song such a pop culture phenomenon.

Snapshot Review:

If you’re a fan of the song “Hallelujah” (and let’s face it, pretty much everyone is), then you will certainly enjoy Alan Light’s The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah.” Light not only examines the history behind the song’s rise to fame, but he deconstructs it from beginning to end. He discuss the lyrics (and how they’ve changed, depending on which version you listen to), the lives of those involved in the song’s history, different covers and their meanings, and more. This is really the definitive volume of the song; what’s surprising about the book is how interesting it is. Light never loses the reader for a second; there aren’t many songs that can have an entire book written about them, but “Hallelujah” certainly is one.

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  1. I added this to my library list when you were talking about it on Twitter. I’m so glad you mentioned it. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

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