Category Archives: music

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) – Deconstructed:

The disclaimer is that this is my (humble) interpretation. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a definite source explaining what Leonard Cohen was trying to say with this song. Apparently, it’s free for all to interpret. And this is not the best-written thing because I was just trying to grab what’s left of my eureka moment and the train commute already took half the magic.

Also, very important: everyone knows that this is not a religious song. Cohen was using biblical elements as metaphor. So this is not a religious discussion, thank you.

I really love the tone of this song. It like came out of a man drinking himself to oblivion—a very intellectual, very heartbroken man who can wield metaphor in such a state.

This first stanza stumped me like an inside joke. I think this is his veiled introduction explaining the song’s context. “Secret chord” is love. We all know God is all about love. Here, he is speaking to his partner in first person. She is the pragmatist and he, the romantic, in this love affair. “You don’t really care for music, do ya?” “It (love) goes like this: the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall (in love) and the major lift (the honeymoon period).” Very nice use of pun – the minor fall compared to the major lift. The king falling in (and out of) love, playing the secret chord and not knowing that he’s “composing” this via his romantic (mis)adventures—literally, also, “praising the Lord” in the act of loving another.

I definitely think “proof” refers to his love but I can’t concretely understand the meaning behind this sentence. The next two lines describe the seduction. “She tied you to a kitchen chair – describes her taming of him; “She broke your throne” – renders him powerless; “and she cut your hair” – using Samson and Delilah to illustrate her breaking his strength. “And from your lips she drew the hallelujah” – but despite this, she still took his breath away and hallelujah in the name of her perfection. It’s his defeat in his love for her.

If the “marble arch” is the same place as the “here” described in the first 3 lines then it should be symbolic of how she has conquered and claimed this territory, his territory (he, alone, was there first). This, obviously, is not a relationship of equals. With him being the romantic, she holds the power over him and therefore “your (her) flag on the marble arch”. And “love (for him) is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah” speaks of the sweetness (hallelujah – still praise) of his love in the bitterness (cold and broken) of his defeat.

This part is boring, just, first 3 lines – they used to have emotional intimacy; next 3 lines – they used to have physical intimacy (but it’s an interesting way to put it).

I feel some regret at the cynicism of this line “but all I’ve ever learned from love, was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you” – ending it (or withdrawing) when you sense the other party withdrawing. (So you don’t end up being the fool holding on to nothing.) The result is not an enlightened person (“not somebody who has seen the light”), but one who is still flawed, maybe even more flawed because of resentment, calling out in pain.

I think “name” refers to love. She might be trying to say he never actually loved her anyway, that he “don’t even know the name”. But it doesn’t matter what it was, because whatever it was he felt for her, it was honest in passion (“blaze of light in every word”).

In the last stanza, perhaps with the reflection in the previous one, he tries to account for his flawed, mortal passion – “did my best, but it wasn’t much”, “couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch”. (“Feel” being a higher quality than “touch”, which he doesn’t want to presume he’s capable of.) Ultimately, he approaches with complete honesty and with the bitterness ebbing, seems to achieve a sense of closure, signifying his submission/acceptance in the face of futility and giving love its due admiration in spite of everything – “And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah”.

Very fancy breakup song.

Books read:
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt, Stephen Dubner
Bounce by Matthew Syed

Quirkology by Richard Wiseman


divine conversation.

i love how one piece of art draws on another piece of art in its creation. like how coldplay’s chris martin was inspired by mexican artist frida kahlo’s painting viva la vida to create his own viva la vida, the song.

the painting viva la vida shows a bunch of watermelons. i really don’t understand it. chris martin may think it’s dark and all and it gave him so much inspiration to write such a masterpiece, that timeless song i still can’t believe coldplay came up with, but all i see is a bunch of watermelons. i think i appreciate the song much better.

but the point is. i’m just right now so in awe of how true communication transcends all our humanly limitations, notions of time and space, physicality and logic. how do you look at a painting from 1954 (or 1952, some contest that she painted that much earlier but inscribed the words viva la vida a few days before her death, presumably through some kind of prescience. and this would be because the technique of her still life portrait hints of more energetic times in her life; she was weak for some time before her death. i don’t know how people find pleasure dedicating chunks of their lives studying someone else’s life. see, that’s the beauty of how we’re made.) – how do you look at a painting from the 1950s, by some very anguished woman (for most part of her life. aren’t they all? tortured artists.), from another part of the world, so completely different from you, and then feel such a kind of emotional and creative response?

i don’t understand. but i have had those. and it’s actually more beautiful than freaky. the way it wells up in you. overflowing. like a g6. ok see where did that come from.

it really makes sense though. when you think of how God sees our events. we may be trudging up this linear glass capillary (like how water being sucked up a straw must follow a path from bottom to top, one point to the next), but he is outside of the capillary looking down at everything happening at one go. linearity means nothing to him. he sees the past, present, future in an instant.

i would like to think maybe some part of us remembers this transcendence. the part of us unsullied by consciousness, therefore unrestrained by earthly notions, physical impossibilities. when we reach deep down into that part in moments of clarity, we understand the things it tells us. time and space is nothing to us, we understand without knowing because we already remember. we understand what this other person is saying with his art, even though it may be that he doesn’t consciously know what he’s saying (i mean it’s just watermelons right and maybe she just thought of the phrase viva la vida and inscribed it on the first of her paintings lying around. but the point is it all adds up in some mystical tapestry of meaning.) and we have a reply to him.

and we burst out and manifest it creatively.

that’s how you see a bunch of watermelons and formulate an audio response like that. it’s really a divine conversation.


* it is freaky, how reading this post after publishing it, i realize i drew a top hat for the guy like what The Observer wears in Fringe. and Fringe used this exact analogy for that kind of being.

I love John Mayer’s metaphors.

Half of my heart is a shotgun wedding to a bride with a paper ring
And half of my heart is the part of a man who’s never truly loved anything

Even that half of his heart isn’t qualified to love her. She must mean a lot.

later, regret.

Baby don’t pretend, that you don’t know it’s true
Cos you can see it when I look at you

One of the things I secretly love about love songs is imagining it happening to me. Guess that’s why when I broke up the other time, I was strangely heartened by the fact that I can dream up my perfect love story, again. What an odd kind of thrill that went through me when that thought first hit me; it’s buried in this blog somewhere. 

Chronic malcontent is a tiresome disease. You find yourself in a perpetual state of want. When you’re at Point A, you covet Point B, knowing full well that getting to Point B will only make you itch for Point A again.

It’s easy to suspend myself in this brink of adulthood. This fork, on the road. Because my choices seem to lie right ahead of me. My vantage point offers me the best view ever–a kind of pending anticipation from a safe distance, still ensconced in the bubble of my comfort zone. I cheat myself into thinking I have the best of both worlds. If today I like Path A, it’s Path A I’m going to get. And I naively envision the glorious things that lie ahead in my Path A life. Tomorrow, I may wake up deciding it’s Path B I’m pursuing, and its treasures lie within my mental grasp. 

But second by second, this vantage point is slipping from me. Even Time cannot stand still for my wishful thinking. Sooner or later, I’m going to have to pick an option that I will regret for the rest of my life. 

For now, I have my two paths and my purposeful ignorance to feed an ill-advised habit of idealism, my romantic song lyrics and an imaginary world to escape into. That is the bliss I know.

did you know

<Everything> and <Hanging by a Moment> by Lifehouse are about God? Is it possible for me to love Jason Wade more?!

Look at the lyrics. No wonder their songs always seemed to hint at something deeper than romantic love. 

Find me here, speak to me
I want to feel you, I need to hear you
You are the light, that’s leading me
To the place where I find peace, again

You calm the storms, and you give me rest
You hold me in your arms, you won’t let me fall
You steal my heart, and you take my breath away
Would you take me in? Take me deeper now

My favourite lines (even before I knew): “And how can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you?

<Hanging by a Moment> is even better. It’s about spiritual searching in his pursuit to be closer to God.

Desperate for changing, starving for truth
I’m closer to where I started, chasing after you
I’m falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I’ve held on to
I’m standing here until you make me move
I’m hanging by a moment here with you
Forgetting all I’m lacking, completely incomplete
I’ll take your invitation, you take all of me

Mostly, he tries to leave his songs open for interpretation, so it doesn’t seem very obvious if you’re not looking out for it. He has a lot of struggles too. And maybe he’s still on the path of reconciliation with the church.

I’m falling apart, barely breathing
With a broken heart, that’s still beating
In the pain, there is healing
In your name, I find meaning
So I’m holding on, holding on to you

The broken lights on the freeway, left me here alone
I may have lost my way now, haven’t forgotten my way home

It’s okay to lose our way, if we still know our way home (:

the time traveler’s wife.

Jason rocks! I love him love him love him! (: (: (: awesome harmonizing too. 

Soundtrack for the movie.

cheesy love songs.

I have a confession. I actually really like <beautiful girl> by Jose Mari Chan. And I especially like the line: till all of your loveliness, in my arms come true.

BUT I also love Evanescence and Lifehouse and Muse and Jason Mraz and Nickelback and…

That’s just a guilty pleasure.

And I know I’ve definitely grown out of childish notions of love because while cheesy love songs make my heart melt, the song that really moves me is:

i’m not the easiest person to love
i’m often the one who lets things go unresolved
yet you choose to be on the side of me, on the side of me

i’m not too proud of some things i’ve done in my life
the skeletons in my closet are too big for me to hide
yet you choose to be on the side of me, on the side of me
blessed charity you’re on the side of me, on the side of me

cos everyone needs a friend to hold
when it’s cold outside and there’s no place to go
yeah everyone needs a friend to hold
all alone i cried there was no place to go
i remember when nobody cared
but you

i’m not the easiest person to love
but you, you’ve opened your heart to show me what i’m worth
cos you choose to be on the side of me, on the side of me
what a mystery, you’re on the side of me, on the side of me

<on the side of me> by Corrinne May. Sometimes, all you need to be strong is that.