Eric Church recently sat down for an interview that was featured in the documentary about the life and career of Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, that was released in July.
Back in 2016, Eric floored the crowd at Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheater with a stunning rendition of Leonard’s most famous song, “Hallelujah,” which he opened up about for the feature film.
Eric noted that he actually had no prior plans to cover the song until a few hours before showtime, when it randomly came on shuffle on his iPod.
He added that he had an open slot still in his setlist that he hadn’t decided what he would use it for yet, and he didn’t even tell his band about the cover prior to the show:
“I was at Red Rocks and earlier in the day, I was listening to a mix and by chance, Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’ came on my iPod.
I had never played the song, but I had a little slot that was kind of a question mark slot on the setlist. I didn’t say anything to the band beforehand, they didn’t know I was gonna do it.”
It’s one of the most epic and magical covers I’ve ever seen or heard, and Eric says it’s a moment he’ll never forget from his entire life and career once it’s all said and done:
“What I didn’t anticipate, ‘cuz I’m still pretty new to the song, I didn’t anticipate the way the crowd would react. I mean, there are 10,000 people between two rocks, in what looks like a cathedral.
And for me, that was just one of those nights that, when it’s all said and done and all over, I’m not gonna remember a lot of things, probably, but I’m gonna remember singing ‘Hallelujah,’ night one, at Red Rocks.
No doubt. And I’ll remember the people, and I’ll remember the way they responded to the song. It was just like being in church.”
Written by Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, the song was originally released on his 1984 Various Positions album. Cohen initially wrote 80 verses for the song in a New York hotel room, as numerous renditions have been performed and recorded over the years.
Jeff Buckley has a very popular version of the song that was featured on his only complete 1994 album, Grace, and was released as a single posthumously in 2007 (10 years after his death), which is the aforementioned version that initially inspired Eric to do a cover at both nights of his Red Rocks shows, which took place on August 9th and 10th of 2016.
Of course, it might be one of the most covered songs of all time, and has been done a million different time by a million different people a million different ways, but Eric’s is easily one of my all-time favorite’s.
He also featured the cover on his subsequent live EP from the show, Mr. Misunderstood On The Rocks: Live And Mostly Unplugged, which was released in November of 2016.
Eric shared a portion of the film over on Instagram, saying that the moment was absolutely “perfect,” as he doubled down on the sentiment that it’s something he’ll never forget as long as he lives:
“So much happens so fast in this life that I live. It’s easy to forget things living in fast forward.
Singing Hallelujah at Red Rocks and hearing the entire crowd sing it back to me is something that I’ll never forget. It was timeless. It was magical. It was perfect.
See HALLELUJAH: LEONARD COHEN, A JOURNEY, A SONG in theaters nationwide. #HallelujahFilm Get tickets at tickets.hallelujahfilm.com/”
And if you’re not familiar with Eric’s version, which he’s since covered pretty regularly on several different tours, do yourself a massive favor and check out the night one performance from Red Rocks he’s talking about.
He’s not kidding when he says it was magical, and the energy from that night is still palpable on recorded versions, whether you’re watching YouTube video or listening to the live EP.
It’s truly a religious experience, much like the song, courtesy of Mr. Church, there’s no doubt about that…
I guess it’s true that life really does imitate art: