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The power of a song

June 24, 2009



Since I’m at Glastonbury for the next week, here’s an extra long post to tide you over… 


At the end of every year, I try to answer some questions. 

1) What was my best bit of the previous year?

2) What do I hope to remember always about the year that has just passed?

3) What do I hope to do in the year to come that I will be able to remember for ever? 

This is a relatively new ‘tradition’ for me. My step-dad John asked me one year and it’s stuck, as a good way of staking stock. The answers can be as complex or as simple as you like, as inter-related or not as need be. Frequently, there is a small list, but at the turn of 2008 into 2009, I asked myself these questions, and some of my answers sat together rather neatly.

My best bit of 2008 was standing in the middle of a field in Glastonbury, with thousands of other people, watching Leonard Cohen perform Hallelujah.

I’ve always loved that song. A friend of mine from university introduced me to it, by playing the most beautiful version I’ve ever heard, just him and his guitar, in a room of spell-bound friends. I fell in love with the song then, but  was always distracted by the melody and the song itself so never really felt like I’d caught the full meaning behind the words. 

It’s only fitting that it was Leonard Cohen himself who brought that full meaning home. After the shock and grief of the previous few months, to stand in that field, and hear the full anguish in those words and the fierce, quiet strength behind them, was deeply moving. I was humbled, strengthened, comforted and uplifted. I hope dearly that I will take that memory to the grave. 

This coming year, volunteering in Botswana, will be filled with moments spoken of in the song. I’m sure there will be times when I want to give everything up and come home, there will be times when my heart breaks, there will be times when I’ll be humbled and times when I’ll be so deeply frustrated I won’t know what to do with myself. But I suspect there will also be times of unparalleled joy, of simplistic contentment and of peace that will confound me. I hope that in all these times I will remember and feel able to utter “Hallelujah.”  

Here’s a bit of footage posted by a lovely festival-goer on YouTube – thank you.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa Forrest permalink
    February 14, 2010 10:05 pm

    Can’t believe that I’ve only just got round to reading your blog, and can’t believe this is one of your favourite songs. Was played at Mums funeral, and at the funeral of my manager(and friend) who died 4 months later. I still can’t listen to it without crying, so I won’t play the above link just yet….

    • oneredsock permalink
      February 14, 2010 10:34 pm

      Yay! Great to see you here 🙂 Better late than never, hey?
      Yes, this is definitely a favourite, so I had to avoid all the horrible over-playing and over-covering it received last year (I’m assuming that little fad is over?). I can totally understand why you’re not playing it yet, but maybe one day.
      Those few moments were so helpful to me, and I have been remembering it here, though not as often as I probably should.
      Hope you stop by again soon 🙂 And it was great Skyping 🙂 x


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