Juniorette Sings Cohen

Juniorette is a precocious seven years old. Here’s her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 song “Hallelujah”, with the Swedish lyrics by Py Bäckman. The performance is influenced to a certain degree by another young Swedish singer’s version, Molly Sandén’s on her 2009 album Samma himmel.

While Cohen’s beautiful lyrics deal mainly with broken love affairs through biblical allusions (compare the Pixies’ “Dead” and “Gouge Away“!), Bäckman’s lyrics are a bit too churchy for my taste. “[The song] has something that takes hold of you / And leads you from night to day / And suddenly you want to sing ‘Hallelujah'”.

Did you know, Dear Reader, that “Hallelujah” is a formulaic Hebrew expression meaning “praise / sing praises to JHWH”?

Juniorette is not churchy. On Saturday I drove her and a friend home from a birthday party for a classmate whose dad is a Swedish Church minister and a really nice guy. (Junior has a steady babysitting gig there.) Juniorette’s friend commented that though Nora’s dad isn’t the parish shepherd proper, he’s usually the one officiating at church. “Does your family believe in God!?”, asked my daughter incredulously. “Yeah, but we don’t go to church often”, said her friend. “I’ve been, like, maybe five times?”.

I’ve written before about the casual godlessness common among modern Scandinavians.


  1. #1 Birger Johansson
    March 14, 2011

    “Praise Yah”. As I understandd it Yah is the actual name of the grumpy old guy. Just as Moloch is the name of a rival. Myself, I would praise the Eschaton (compulsory singularity reference).
    Another cute child song performance:”Every Sperm Is Sacred”!
    -Re. songs connected to religion: In “Family Guy” Peter goes off to find a record of “Surfing Bird” and finds Jesus working in a second-hand record store. So, if you want to find Jesus, go for “Surfing Bird” by The Trashman !
    Music connected to creationism: The theme of “I Dream of Jeanie”: (genie goes BOIIING! and creates animals). Yes, Swedish readers will not get that reference [smug bloke shuts down computer and goes home].

  2. #2 Victor
    March 14, 2011

    I had heard that, too, that Hallelujah is praise Yah (YHWH). But, my understanding is that YHWH was so sacred, it wasn’t ever said aloud. So, did they say “Hallelujah”. Perhaps shortening the proper name served that purpose. Mmmm. Religious work around can be quite curious.

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    March 15, 2011

    Children’s choir: “Every Sperm is Sacred” {Monty Python)

    Another kid singing (Eric Cartman): “Poker Face” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRH6FhkbQmY&feature=related

    There is also the cuute episode “Woodland Critter Christmas” alas there was no singing.

    Unfortunately, other juxtapositions of children and religion are not so good. No, I was thinking of the mean stepfather/priest in “Fanny and Alexander”.

  4. #4 kevin
    April 1, 2011

    Lovely performance, I never would have considered English a beautiful language but compared to Swedish it sounds positively mellifluous.

    I find myself in complete agreement with your skeptical atheism in all realms but this one — until modern secularism comes up with a vocabulary capable of expressing transcendent emotion artists will have no recourse but the divine. Skepticism that compels me to listen to Handel with wooden ears is too harsh a master. Within art ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’

  5. #5 Martin R
    April 1, 2011

    Well, there’s always sex. What is soul but gospel directed to gonads instead of gods?

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