We hate this: Violin star corrupts Hallelujah

We hate this: Violin star corrupts Hallelujah


norman lebrecht

December 09, 2015

The justly popular and energetic Lindsey Stirling has taken Leonard Cohen’s profane account of King David’s sexual obsessions and turned it into a Yuletide ‘testimony of Jesus Christ’.

Lindsey affirms on the video: ‘ Maybe you think that no one sees the beauty in you, but there is one person that I have learned that always sees the beauty in us, and that’s our Saviour Jesus Christ, and this is the time of year that we have the opportunity to celebrate his birth. He was the greatest gift that we’ve ever been given, and his gospel allows us the knowledge to know that we can be with our loved ones forever.’

Lindsey, that’s not what the song’s about. This is a total distortion, but one million fans watched the video in the first 24 hours.



  • JBBaldwin says:

    Speaking of obsessions, I cannot for the life of me understand Mr. Lebrecht’s obsession with Cohen, or, while I’m at it, with Patti Smith. There seems to be very little in the way of music combined with some astoundingly bad poetry as a vehicle to expound a liberated/leftist/fully-sexually-revolutionised world-view. What is the attraction?

  • Alvaro says:

    You hate something? Now that’s news 😉

  • Alvaro says:

    P.D. THIS is classical music for my generation. Who’s that Beethoven again?

  • M_von_Kolinahr says:

    Hmm, yes, maybe, depending on one’s tastes. Yet I actually appreciate it very much that Mr Lebrecht chooses to be quite so inclusive at times, on this classical site, and in fact Leonard Cohen is really, really hip these days, just about more so than he ever was in his earlier heyday. And as for Patti Smith, in particular her 1975 debut album “Horses” is definitely one of the most seminal rock issues of its day. Such creations may not (and need not) necessarily appeal to everyone here at all, it’s true (in this case, also quite literally a case of “horses for courses”!), yet despite my loyalty to classical music, I also feel that to miss the importance of the most significant of such works and artists is actually to miss out on something really, truly vital in this modern age. It may admittedly all come from a comparatively arcane source of inspiration, and it may not always necessarily be all that pretty or something that everyone really wants to tune into, but then again… for better or worse, it does also reflect the modern world. As the man once said: “Kinder, schafft Neues und abermals Neues!” – and for my part, I think this is actually really part of what he meant. OK, guess I’d really better get back again to my Bach cantatas before I get any more “corrupted” here…

    • JBBaldwin says:

      “…it’s true (in this case, also quite literally a case of “horses for courses”!”

      Point taken. (Thank you for the reasoned and even-handed response, by the way.)

  • CDH says:

    I don’t see her corrupting Cohen’s song, which has become rather anthemic for a generation. She has her own message, but it looks as if it could be played after any song for which she had feeling — be it Hallelujah, Imagine, or anything else. She was talking about the beauty in herself, which she was demonstrating through her performance — a rather attractive arrangement, nicely played, I thought, never having heard of her — and I suppose she chose a failsafe tune with vaguely religious overtones as suitable.

  • Halldor says:

    But there aren’t any words in her performance, so there’s no way she can have distorted what the song’s about. In any case, the definition of a standard is a song that can be performed 1001 different ways without losing its identity or power. Soupy electric violin versions aren’t to my taste, granted, but this is no more a ‘corruption’ of the original than when Marc Almond sang Jacques Brel, Sinatra sang Tchaikovsky or for that matter Captain Sensible sang Rodgers & Hammerstein.

    “Definitive” ossified interpretations are the death of music: this is at least alive.

  • Eric says:

    I don’t know what you all have your panties in a wad about with this piece of music! I think it’s a fantastic, heartfelt performance of a very nice tune!

    IF you don’t like the message or the performance, DON”T WATCH OR LISTEN!!!! Plain & simple!

    Ms.Smith has every right to express her feelings & beliefs. Especially in a self produced video!

    Just because it’s not a three hundred year old cantata doesn’t mean it’s not a listenable piece of music.

    Damn whiners! I’ll bet you couldn’t play HALF as well as Ms. Smith!!

  • ThatBadDog says:

    I don’t think anyone listens to the lyrics. I do it several times a year as a requested number at wedding ceremonies and it’s not exactly a wedding song…

  • Todd says:

    As a Leonard Cohen fan, I’m fine with with his gorgeous melody being used for whatever purpose the artist sees fit. Where I cringe… and I mean face scrunching, body contorting cringe… are the heretics out there who actually have the audacity to change Cohen’s lyrics to fit their own narrative.

    Of course, that being said, lets not forget that other secular melodies have been co-opted in the holiday season… Greensleeves for instance? And of course, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus is actually better suited for Easter in the original Oratorio’s narrative.

  • Duncan Jones says:

    There ought to be a ban on further versions of the song. The lyrics are remarkable, full of ambiguity and raising serious questions; I don’t think you could say the same about Lindsey Stirling.

  • Guy Dammann says:

    Luckily, it’s not possible to copyright the meaning of things. Lindsey Stirling has every right to do what she wants with the song and given that she’s a Mormon what she does is hardly surprising (i.e. turns it into a song celebrating the birth of Lindsey Stirling as latter-day saint). Also luckily, no-one told Handel or Bach or Vivaldi that it’s not on to turn “profane” melodies into “sacred” ones.

  • Hannah says:

    Lindsey Stirling didn’t distort this song… she with permission changed the song a little to fit her personality and what she believes. I hardly call this distorting! Lindsey is an amazing talent not to mention an all-around kind and amazing person