by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Michael Barthel- "Hallelujah". Although the catalyst may have been his EMP paper on the movement of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" through pop culture, Mike Barthel's full-length reimagining is a joy in its own right. There is none of the sadness of Cohen's, Buckley's or Wainwright's versions, and whereas the intimacy of those renditions rested on their acheing slowness, Barthel places the song's eroticism in a landscape of fun, whimsy, and easygoing pleasure. The call and response in the track's opening verse ("And it pleased the Lord" "He's a bit picky.") may at first seem irreverent, almost undercutting, but it's in some ways one of the sexiest sections of any "Hallelujah" ever: a man and woman united not in po-faced transcendence, but in play. (Swagger-smiling: "There was a time when you let me know / what was really going on below...") Through falsetto, synth washes, fake drums, we never lose track of that weird, great melody at the song's core, and in places it feels liberated for the very first time; I love the eagerness in Barthel as the song accelerates and he sings lines that have (bafflingly) never been allowed to sound excited before: "I remember when I moved in you / and the holy dove was moving too / and every breath we drew was Hallelujah." Like true love's not just souls caught unmoving in trembling moonlight - it's a dude in a smile and a girl in a sundress, a park full of dandelion & hibiscus.

[read Mike B's "Hallelujah" paper / read Clap Clap / read his excellent piece on Amerie and Rihanna]

Säkert! - "Sanningsdan". Säkert!'s a band with an exclamation mark and "Sanningsdan"'s the kind of song that makes you stamp your foot in exclamation marks, each toe-tap leaving an aspirate gasp in the air. "Safe!" the band-name means, like safety is something awesome and amazing, which I guess it is, or like you're playing hide-and-seek and you totally just won. It's a new project by Annika Norlin, aka Hello Saferide, aka a voice who is dear to Said the Gramophone, but here singing in Swedish. And at 1:19 she squawks like a buzzard and at 1:43 the drums start playing fast enough to turn the worlds' oceans to ice, and the chorus is horns and ahhs and drums and harmonies and the certainty of new splendours always just around the bend. !!! ! !

[$7 digital download / swedish blog / Hello Saferide guestpost on Said the Gramophone]

Posted by Sean at June 7, 2007 12:09 PM

"Aspirate gasp" is fantastic! So wonderfully onomatopoeic.

Posted by Amy at June 7, 2007 7:35 PM

I'm afraid I can't hear anything but mediocrity in that Hallelujah cover.

Posted by David at June 7, 2007 11:16 PM

But surely that's part of the point, too, isn't it, David? That "Hallelujah"—or indeed, any pop song—isn't a sacred thing that must be approached (and performed) with an appropriate gravity, but a plaything, a toy to fuck around with and maybe even break?

That's the point that I took from Michael's paper when I first read it; that when a song has the weird aura of reverence around it that "Hallelujah" does—a sense that the song is somehow too important to be, y'know, fun—in that atmosphere, it takes more balls to do a tossed-off shitty version of it than to do yet another lovingly crafted, painfully earnest take on same.

Not that Michael's version is either tossed-off or shitty—but it is pretty ballsy.

Posted by Jack Fear at June 8, 2007 8:22 AM

My appreciation of both the song and the paper, for what it's worth : I agree that Buckley and Cale simplified the song, quite radically. And though I understand the logic behind the cover proposed by Michael, I find it to be another simplification (and not a really good one). An "exercice de style" as Queneau would have put it.

None of this performers (none of all performers that I heard covering this song) really give credit to the complexity and the ambivalence of Cohen's version, which makes it perhaps a bit sacred but also really more touching.

Posted by garrincha at June 8, 2007 12:22 PM

Actually, here "Säkert!" means something more like "Sure!" as in "I just won a million dollars!" - "Yeeeaaah, suuure!". Get it? ;)

Posted by Olle at June 10, 2007 6:12 AM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
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le pick up
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chez boris
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vices & versa
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drawn + quarterly
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casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
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