Country music singer and songwriter Eric Church gave fans a rare treat when he performed at the Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado. He gave a dazzling cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".
Church prefaced the performance by warning the audience he had not properly prepared for what was about to happen: "I'm gonna try something here. This could go bad," Church told the crowd, admitting that he hadn't practiced the iconic song, and that it was "something I put on my crew about an hour ago." He pulled it off quite successfully, however, drawing loud cheers of approval from the audience as he sang the track, just him and his guitar onstage; readers can press play on the video above to watch.
For Church, "Hallelujah" has a special connection to Red Rocks: "Last time I was here - this is a true story - I played here, and we were leaving, and I was playing some music in my headphones," Church recalled, "and I was leaving here, and we pulled out, and the light was still on the rocks, like it is right now, and this song was playing in my headphones."
"Hallelujah" is a song written by Canadian recording artist Leonard Cohen, originally released on his album Various Positions (1984). Achieving little initial success, the song found greater popular acclaim through a cover by John Cale, which inspired a cover by Jeff Buckley. Buckley's version is the most enduringly popular and critically acclaimed cover of the song to date. It is the subject of the book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" (2012) by Alan Light. In a New York Times review of the book, Janet Maslin praises the book and the song, noting that "Cohen spent years struggling with his song 'Hallelujah.' He wrote perhaps as many as 80 verses before paring the song down."