A Secret Chord

It’s been long time since I wrote a blog. And there’s so much going on around the world and in my life that I don’t get time to write. I’ve been trying to focus my writing on current affairs but to my horror no affair seems to be current for more than a week. I’m like, “Hold on! Think about this for a moment.” But nobody’s listening. Everybody has moved on to the next big controversy. Or the next big tragedy. Blame it on technology. Blame it on progress. But the end result is we have become a civilization that is on the run. From what? To where? We don’t know. But everybody runs.

But that’s a rant for another day. Today I want to focus on something else. I want to focus on something that everyone likes. Do you know what the most generic answer to the question “What are your hobbies?” is? Listening to Music. Today, I want to do 2 things with this blog.

  1. Introduce a new Series of blogs.
  2. Highlight one of my favorite songs.

Let’s get on with no. 1. Music has been my anchor through good and bad times. It’s been my teacher and comforter. Perhaps, I’ve learned more lessons from music and songs than from anything else. But how? How can music teach? Isn’t it there just for entertainment? Not for me. How dare anyone limit the scope of music to “just for entertainment”? I have learned singing, English, interpreting poetry, philosophy, theology through music. I developed a taste for sublimity from nothing but music. There are great treasures hidden in the songs that we hear. I just want to highlight these treasures.

And when I say that the music has a potential to teach, that potential comes largely from the lyrics. However, with great music accompanying great lyrics, the lyrics come alive and become unforgettable. Sometimes, the songs become the part of our own identity. And in this way, some songs become timeless artifacts of the human condition. They become eternal, relevant through all times. Very much in contrast to our current tendencies of running after the next best (or the worst) thing. I think the way to cure our world from chronic amnesia is poetry. And the world needs poets and romantics more than it needs economists, technologists & politicians.

So, in an attempt to nurture poet inside you, I want to do a series of blog posts that will highlight an artists or a song that has stayed with me for years and will stay with me for years to come. These songs have struck a secret chord with me and I hope they do it with you as well. I will be tagging all my articles in this series with the tag “a secret chord“.

Let me introduce the song that I want to highlight today. It is also a song from which I’m stealing the title for this series of blog posts. It is, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohan. The best musical rendition is from “Jeff Buckley” but a lot of other artists have also covered it. Here’s the lyrics:

[Verse 1]
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 you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing “Hallelujah”

[Chorus]
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 2]
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

[Chorus]
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 3]
Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

[Chorus]
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 4]
There was a time you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

[Chorus]
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 5]
You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

[Chorus]
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 6]
Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

[Chorus]
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 7]
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

[Chorus]
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

So, why do I love this song? Because it defies categorization. There are parts of the song that I don’t fully understand, but I can’t deny a certain mystical allure of the song. It haunts me from time to time. It is not perfect. It is broken. But still, it’s beautiful. It’s something to wrestle with.

As this is just the first post, I won’t go in deeper into the lyrics. I’ll leave that to you. For now, go on and listen to the song from Youtube.

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