Halleluyah – a blaze of light


By Chemrock

As I write this article, my mind is still fresh with a news article on the killing of 7 innocent people in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City by masked gunmen on motorbikes. They were searching for a certain person whom the folks say was involved in drugs. On failing to find their target, the gunmen randomly sprayed bullets into a couple of flimsy homes. A horrendous display of cowardly machismo behind masks and guns. The aftermath – 7 dead, 3 of whom were teenaged brothers and a 27 year old pregnant woman. How could one not feel the pain of the families of those slain, or to scream at the horror of a drug war that is leading the country to purgatory? How could this be waived off as collateral damage or a simple “I’m sorry for the unintentional killings” apology? How could 16 million clap and cheer these evil deeds and not see blood on their hands?

Whenever I listen to the song Halleluyah, my sensory receptors and neurons cause the limbic system in me to feel pain, so strong the emotion it conveys. Then the mantric chorus somehow makes the emotion subside and fills the heart with love. It accentuates with the background realization of the then and now in the country.

“Halleluyah” (Leonard Cohen)

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do ya? 
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Halleluyah

Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelyah

Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to ya?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Halleluyah

Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool ya
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Halleluyah

Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah
Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah, Halleluyah

Halleluyah was composed by the late Leonard Cohen and recorded in 1984. Initially, it was not a commercial success, but years later it eventually became a classic. I prefer Bon Jovi’s version. Personally, for me, it is one of the most powerful songs right next to Amazing Grace. He wrote 80 stanzas in all and ended up selecting 4 for the song. Many artistes who released their own versions, from Bon Jovi to Elvis to Michael Jackson, and even Cohen himself in his life performances, simply pick any choose any of the stanzas. The effect remains unchanged. The full 80 stanzas would have made an epic poem.

The song has an overall gloom and doom effect, of a tortured soul twisting and turning, from a minor low thrusting into a major high. It is not a psalm or hymn, although, much like George Harrison’s My sweet Lord, the repetitive incantation of the chorus gives it a very mantric feel. Yet to Cohen, it was about positivity. The word Halleluyah in our common usage is “Praise the Lord”. In Hebrew it means “in joyous praise (in a song) of Yah — shortened name of God (YHWH). Cohen ends every stanza with Halleluyah, a core message of love and hope.

In stanza 1, the first 2 lines refer to a young David playing the harp to save King Saul (the first Jewish King) whose heart had been taken over by the devil. David’s music drove the devil away from Saul. Oh would we not wish to have these secret chords that we could play to our present king and bring sanity to a reign that’s filled with terror, and on a path that shows the hands of the Devil.

Cohen went on to explain the chords of Halleluyah, which, as my musical friends explained to me, is actually a very simple arrangement. Beautiful things always have its simplicity. The baffled king is David although I don’t understand why he is confused.

Stanza 2 refers to King David and Samson, but here Cohen got it wrong with the “kitchen chair”. There is no such reference in the Bible. Cohen was trying to be cheeky with some kinky sex thrown in. The frailties of men lead to sin and their downfall when even the most strong and powerful must seek redemption from God’s wrath. We are told of King David’s adultery with Bathsheba, how he tip-toed on the roof to peep at her bathing. David murdered her husband and made her his wife. The Book of Judges tells of Samson marrying a forbidden woman Delilah who cuts his long hair, the source of his immense strength. Alas, those that commit even the most heinous sins do not see their ways. Do the police have guilt or conscience when they shoot their assigned targets who were begging for their lives? Do those in higher office send men out to kill (not arrest) pray at night for forgiveness before they sleep? Do those that cheer on the killings give thanks for safer streets but pray to God that their loved ones never fall prey to accidental shootings? Cohen tells us God punishes. Who are you to dare defy God’s commandments when even Kings He punishes? God is the real Punisher.

In Stanza 3, Cohen speaks to the great divide. Those who accept the extra-judicial killings of drug pushers and users as a convenient way to solve a complicated problem have forgotten the laws that Moses taught, and yet will go to church and partake of normal holy Eucharists. Do they not understand they have used the Lord’s name in vain? Here Cohen gives us a beautiful quote – “There’s a blaze of light in every word”. To the great divide, read the good Book. Many will see the Holy Words. 16 million will continue to see Broken Words as they gather like herds to listen only to what they want to hear and pray to the new Baals like Mocha Uson, Thevolatilian, $ass Sasot, Thinkingpinoy, and many more. Who else but Lucifer from whom flows unto Mocha the prophecy of the Anti-Christ cometh in the form of the CBCP? The debauched, whose profession is to flaunt and sell suggestive sex, now collects her 30 silver coins selling false news and false prophecies. Proficient in Broken Words and obviously no time for the Holy Book, the debauched does not realize the Beast or Anti-Christ in the Revelation will be a civilian ruler, not a man of the church. Cohen says it matters not what you believe. Because the ultimate judgment is yours to bear.

Stanza 4 is alive to me. It seems Cohen is speaking to TSH folks, and many others of similar convictions elsewhere. We are not here to fool anyone. There are no falsenews. Yes there may be some expression of opinions that others may disagree with. A preponderance of data, factual events and its logical parsing. are our weapons. In short, Truth is the weapon to shine the light into the cold dark winter that is already here. Things have gone terribly wrong and likely to get worse. Stay the course, for every end there is a Halleluyah.

There are some who say the Age of Humanitarianism is over. History is repeating itself before our very eyes. Country after country are experiencing fascist tendencies and seeming to retreat into the dark ages. Are we really on the path to the chaos that presage the end days? Yet believers know that it is in our darkest hours that Faith is ever more important and powerful. I feel the haunting melancholy in Cohen’s song in the delivery, and yet we sing in joyous praise. And that is the power of the song. Fear not, the end is well. How, we do not yet know.

Wishing my fair friends here a Happy New Year. Keep the blaze of light aglow. Halleluyah.

50 Responses to “Halleluyah – a blaze of light”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    Translated to English
    What’s the news on the radio and TV
    Just the same, floundering around in the dark
    Sometimes I think of just leaving here
    Forget everything, fly, go far away

    Stones from heaven
    Those who get hit shouldn’t get angry
    We all know who are the sly ones

    For every curse with tears I collect a peso
    For every poor person who cries— I offer blood

    You have hope, my brother, my friend
    Just as long as I’m alive there still is hope


    Who’s fed up? Who’s angry?
    Shout it out tonight!


    Blinded by the light
    I could barely see the faces in front of me
    Asking me where do we begin
    Well for starters from within
    I’m ashamed of what I’ve become in the mirror
    The face of my one true enemy
    Hallelujah it’s a new day
    Let take control if I have to take this message door to door
    Save myself save every soul
    With permission I make this my personal mission
    Save me from the fire… from the fire

    Tonight I am your soldier
    While you sleep I am awake watching over you — because I love you
    See, my love is for you alone…

    • chemrock says:

      I looked up this Bamboo song, didnt quite cut it for me.
      So far I like only 2 pinoy songs — Aguilar’s Anak and Mis na Mis by Father and Son.
      As for Anak, Singaporeans love this song. Any Filipino musician wishing to take up a jig there should include this in their repertoire. If there are old timers in the audience, expect a request for Anak, without fail.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Anak is a classic.
        Miss na miss reminded me of my nephew, that was his favorite, but when I remind him, he denies it.

      • i7sharp says:

        Thanks for you piece, chemrock.

        Regarding Anak,
        one can listen to this,
        while reading this:
        My wife and I address our kids “Anak.”

        Did you choose the image accompanying the article?
        It seems to be an old King James.
        “Lucifer” is not found in most (if not all) new or modern versions, afaik.


        • Three links puts a comment into moderation.

        • chemrock says:

          Thanks for the Anak link.
          One of the first thing I did when I visited Manila long ago was to pop into Freddie’s resto-bar in Mabini or thereabouts, but he was’nt there.

          Bible image do look old. Yes I picked that, rather appropriate I think. We preach no falsehoods here i7Sharp, so if the Old Testament and Lucifer is a chronological aberration, let’s assume it’s not King James after all. But i’ll give it to you, you’re observant haha.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    The prophets were the King makers before. If they are having a problem with the incimbent, they annoint a successor like in the case of Saul and David. Solomon annointed David, because Saul was becoming problematic.

    Batsheba and Delilah, the weakness of David and Samson respectively.
    Both lead to their downfall.

    • chemrock says:

      It is not a case of purely weaknesses that lead to downfall. We all have our trespasses. If we confess and repent and change, we have salvation. David and Samson are different. They were consecrated to perform some divine objectives and they did things that were specifically forbidden for them. They draw to themselves God’s punishment.

      The lesson in here is there are man-made laws and God’s laws. The king may over-ride and hold his own laws in contempt, but there is no escaping God’s laws.

      • karlgarcia says:


      • Bill In Oz says:

        Yes Edgar !!!
        And I still love hearing Leonard Cohen’s “Like Bird On Wire”…It too speaks of the predicament of being human.

        Like a bird on the wire,
        Like a drunk in a midnight choir
        I have tried in my way to be free.
        Like a worm on a hook,
        Like a knight from some old fashioned book
        I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
        If I, if I have been unkind,
        I hope that you can just let it go by.
        If I, if I have been untrue
        I hope you know it was never to you.

        Like a baby, stillborn,
        Like a beast with his horn
        I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
        But I swear by this song
        And by all that I have done wrong
        I will make it all up to thee.
        I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
        He said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
        And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
        She cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”

        Oh like a bird on the wire,
        Like a drunk in a midnight choir have tried in my way to be free.

        Words that are so, so appropriate now in the Philippines

  3. Grace Lim Reyes says:

    Here is a very good version of Hallelujah by Choir!Choir!Choir! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGRfJ6-qkr4

    • chemrock says:

      Regarding the choir version, Cohen actually did’nt wanted a full fledged choir so that the song won’t turn out too churchly like. So he used a layered choir approach — get a few people to sing the chorus once, then and another layer of different people, and so on. He used ordinary folks — non-musical types like sisters, friends, the pizza delivery guy.

      This song is so really so great there are so many versions. Each performer brings something new.

      Even the 10 year old autistic girl from the Killard Special School — her version will touch your heart.

      I also recommend Jeffrey Adam Gutt (USA X Factor 2013). Watch his own release – original (not the one he sang in the audition)

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. There is irony in the seven deaths occurring at Bagong Silang, Caloocan. Bagong Silang means New Birth (or New Born), and Kalookan means “in the corner” from the Tagalog word “lo-ok” or “sulok.”

    2. Seemingly, these are random, accidental deaths at New Birth in the Corner. But does this mean these deaths are meaningless? Perhaps not. Perhaps they will give birth to a new consciousness, coming from the forgotten corners. Perhaps, finally, an awareness will seep into the general collective consciousness of the evil of the anti-drug war.

    3. Halleluyah can be holy or broken. Broken Halleluyahs are sung by the misguided to false idols, the Lords of Discord, who rain death and pain on the suffering masses.

    4. Cohen says it doesn’t matter what we hear, whether it is the holy or broken praise. Here he is taking the long view that, in the trajectory of eternity, everything will turn out alright. Hallelujah.

    5. But in the last stanza, he affirms the need to do one’s best, to speak or sing and hear the holy Hallelujah. Because, at the end, we will “stand before the Lord of Song” and be judged.


    6. There is that other song of Cohen that haunts me – “Suzanne.” From these two songs, I conclude Cohen’s genius consists in weaving biblical idioms into the strands of modern life. Here, too, he offers love and hope:

    ”There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
    They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever…”


    • chemrock says:

      Offering love and hope, ah that is so perfunctory. But as some commenter wrote somewhere, where are the scholars, the poets, the painters, the writers, the musicians in Philippines at a time such as these?

  5. Bill In Oz says:

    I like Leoard Cohen’s music and have done ever since I heard his Suzane back in the 1970’s. But I much prefer K D Laing’s version in her CD “Hymns of the 4th Parallel” There are so many more clear musical parts in it.

    Here is a link. You need to go to the fourth track.

    Leonard Cohen was the prophet of my time ( and I guess yours too Joe) The poet who sang of his visions to all who could hear -Visions of the present, the past & the future. A gift of the divine.

    In the Philippines now there seems to be no poet who can sing out their visions of what is and what is coming. But maybe in the coming year or so it will happen.

    • Bob Dylan was my prophet, writing drug-induced literature in song, according to the Nobel judges. Well, they refrained from mentioning his various incentives, which included women, I understand. I understand that from my ex-GF in NY who was Dylan’s good friend. I did not know of Leonard Cohen until now, which explains why I am still trying to figure things out, have a heart of stone, and am growing a fine amoral bent to keep pace with the times. I’m even learning to lie, and teaching my son the skill. He’s quite good at it. Well, it is more story-telling than lying, but Don Quixote dealt with the general hate that greeted fiction in the 1500s, because the puritans of the time thought it was lying.

      Have a good year, Bill. Have a Fosters on Edgar.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Thanks Joe..Bhoebe & I danced the New Year at a tango milonga..And champagne was the drink that night. Too cool for beer, even a Fosters !

        I cannot disparage Dylan. He too inspired so many and was gifted with his poet’s prophet voice. Though I suspect not to the extent of earning a Nobel ! By the way I think Bob Dylan was inspired by Dylan Thomas the wonderful Welsh poet of the 1920 & 30’s who was also a prophet & truly was worth a Nobel

        Prophets are blessed and so can speak truth without fear or favor from earthly or even religious authorities. Lying does not come easily to them. But for the rest of us, lying, ever so politely, is easier & less stressful…

      • i7sharp says:

        Joe, I would like to jump here from where I notified you I would … segue.

        You mentioned of “knowledge” and I would like to go deeper …by way of Leonard Cohen:
        http://j.mp/i7-lc01 The man
        http://j.mp/i7-lc02 His Hallelujah
        In a 1993 interview entitled “I am the little Jew who wrote the Bible,” he says, “at our best, we inhabit a biblical landscape, and this is where we should situate ourselves without apology….That biblical landscape is our urgent invitation…Otherwise, it’s really not worth saving or manifesting or redeeming or anything, unless we really take up that invitation to walk into that biblical landscape.”

        Cohen showed an interest in Jesus as a universal figure, saying, “I’m very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says ‘Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek’ has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity and insight and madness…A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion. I’m not trying to alter the Jewish view of Jesus Christ. But to me, in spite of what I know about the history of legal Christianity, the figure of the man has touched me.”[150][page needed]


        • i7sharp says:

          For “deeper knowledge,” let me add chemrock’s
          “I wish every barangay is filled with Holy Halleluyah in 2017”
          to Cohen’s
          “the figure of the man [Jesus] has touched me.”

          I do not know what chemrock means by “filled with Holy Halleluyah” but the phrase brought to my mind, “filled with the Holy Ghost,” which, by the way, occurs eight times in the King James.

          [Please allow me to, henceforth, refer to the King James as “AKJB” (Authorized King James Bible).]

          I imagine “a barangay that is filled with the Holy Ghost” would have about seven (7) “saved” persons living in it. I picked 7 because it is my favorite number … but who knows it might make sense. Could it be that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because there were less than 7 people there who were filled with the Holy Ghost?

          Cohen’s “touched me” brought to my mind Rizal’s “Touch Me Not.” I realize I may be sounding weird already but I am not … ummm, the word “abashed” came to my mind just now. It is probably the very first time for me to use the word anywhere.

          I think I will stop here, for now … and close with this:
          “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge …”


  6. cha says:

    It’s such a beautiful song. And yes, so apt for the current mood much of the world finds itself in, that of brokenness and a quiet despair.

    I didn’t know Bon Jovi did a cover of this song. I was surprised at the tenderness in his voice as he was singing. I was expecting the usual raspy singing voice of a rock star which, come to think of it, might not have worked at all. Or at least not have conveyed the same sense of vulnerability of an imperfect being that is captured in this version and many other successful solo covers of the song.

    I find that group renditions like the Pentatonix cover and the choir!choir!choir version with Rufus Wainwright above transform the song and make it sound a lot more hopeful, if not actually joyful. The blending of many beautiful voices together somehow serves as a testament to the beauty of humanity itself.

    But here is my favourite version, by Regina Spektor :

  7. andrewlim8 says:

    Superb piece, chemrock. Your take on stanzas 2 & 3 of Cohen’s version is so moving, I urge every reader to play a version of the song while reading your essay.

    Here’s the verse that suits DU30:

    Maybe there’s a God above,
    As for me, all I’ve ever seemed to learn from love
    Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew ya.
    Yeah but it’s not a complaint that you hear tonight,
    It’s not the laughter of someone who claims to have seen the light
    No it’s a cold and it’s a very lonely Hallelujah.

    Fits Robredo’s tweet that “you (Duterte) were not truly loved and that it made you cruel.”

    People like Duterte, Uson, the VACC have been so consumed with vengeance that even when they utter Hallelujah it comes from a very lonely and cold place. As you said, God is the Punisher, not DU30!

    They have become monsters thinking they are doing something right.

    • You aren’t the only one, Andrew. This conversation rolled across my tweet dialogue.

      Mila D. Aguilar ‏@mila_d_aguilar 1 hour ago Beautiful literature is coming out of this ugly era. Here’s one. I don’t know who wrote it. @societyofhonor

      JoeAm @societyofhonor @mila_d_aguilar Chemrock is a regular author at the blog, of Singaporean heritage living in the Philippines. He’s done superb writing.

      Mila D. Aguilar ‏@mila_d_aguilar 11 minutes ago @societyofhonor Love his take on the song! Especially its relevance to the current situation! [still gushing]

    • chemrock says:

      Thanks Andrew
      You chose an appropriate stanza that is self-explanatory.
      My only add-on is that perhaps ‘vengeance’ is not so apt, it is ‘hate’. There is too much venom in the air. I wish every barangay is filled with Holy Halleluyah in 2017.

      • andrewlim8 says:

        I use “vengeance” because:

        a. Uson’s father was a provincial judge who was shot, still unsolved;
        b. The VACC’s chairman, Dante Jimenez had his brother shot by drug personalities;
        c. Duterte has hinted that his son was into drugs, which is corroborated by Matobato.

        These experiences make them think they are doing God’s work, not realizing they have turned into monsters themselves in the process.

  8. “The fourth, the fifth
    The minor fall, the major lift
    The baffled king composing Halleluyah”

    Kill, kill, kill, kill! = the chorus to the symphony written by the baffled king and performed by his equally baffled but willing minions.
    Cultural consenquentialism = “the end justify the means”; the moral worth of an action depends on its outcome.
    Means = guns, fake news, lies, deception, what-have-you…
    End = EJK, corruption, poverty, psychological terrorism (fear), collateral damage, PTSD, peace and order(?), safety(?)…
    Broken Hallelujah = All of the above

    • chemrock says:

      The eternal conflict of the Holy vs the Broken.

      Does anybody actually choose the means to a Broken end? I mean one seeks a desired outcome first and then decide on the journey to get there isnt it? The Broken end comes about because the wrong journey was taken.

      • sonny says:

        chempo, I like the lamentation that Freddie Aguilar sang in ANAK: melody, the images and the lyrics that Freddie composed could not have been any better: from the purity of life at birth and early development through adulthood’s foibles, errors and recovery. Yet I must point to the fall of King David, prophet Nathan’s accusation, judgment and then King David’s lament and his Psalm of sorrow and forgiveness that has come to us in Psalm 51, the Miserere Mei Deus as the paradigm of human brokenness to God’s redemption. This medieval composition and performance of the Miserere (Psalm 51) speaks for itself.

        We must pray that PDu30 and everyone he has involved in this fall from grace will still respond to the movements of grace for their redemption.

        • Bill In Oz says:

          Ahhh Sonny ! Such an extraordinary piece of music; haunting & beautiful ! A Capella singing at it’s best. I have it here on CD and love it. But I have never had the opportunity to read on screen the translated lyrics of this Psalm in English line by line as it was sung. Thank you !

          For some years I sang in an A Capella choir here in Oz. It was always a great joy to sing.But we never tackled the Miserere Mei !

          The Miserere Mei is a song of lamentation by a repentant King David. At that time in Israel people believed that Kings were holy and the anointed of God : granted authority to reign & rule by God.

          But almost all nations have moved on from that belief. ( I suspect on the Calief of Islamic State & the Vatican are the only exceptions ) Certainly Duterte does not accept it. He rules and reigns courtesy of being the Filipino people’s elected ( not annointed ) leader.

          And in that insight lies hope: for when the people’s blessing disappears his reign will start to fall apart.

          Whereas in former times the Lord’s ‘anointed’ could claim the divine right to do anything and often did. The Philippines was cursed by this in the Spanish colonial centuries. But it is not cursed by such an ideology now. I am sure that all members of the Society are grateful for that.

          As for Duterte’s relationship, if any, with the Divine. That is a private matter for him. I doubt he will ever do any lamenting.

          • sonny says:

            I am wonderfully stunned by your description of appreciation for the Miserere. Your comment is a composition by itself, Bill. 🙂 You have mirrored what I felt as I listened to this choir’s rendition. This is my first time to hear Allegri’s 1630 Renaissance polyphony. Allegri’s mix of Chant & polyphony is remarkable. I have only sang (in choir) the Dies Irae as laid in the Latin Gregorian Chant in the pre-Vatican II Mass of the Dead and the Asperges Me lines (for sprinkling holy water in Pontifical Mass)

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dlr90NLDp-0 (a capella chant of Dies Irae)

            I lay PDu30 and his men in the Lord’s hands.

            The best of the 2017 New Year be with you and Lady Bill! 🙂

            • Bill In Oz says:

              Hi Sonny..Yes It is worth listening to again and again..for the sheer beauty of the voices.

              An A Capella choir piece I have sung in the past & love, is ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ by William Byrd. Byrd was an English Catholic but served as a “Gentleman at the Chapel Royal” for Queen Elizabeth the first. He composed this in Latin for the Anglican Church while serving in the Queen’s court. Unlike the Allegria it is utterly simple ( no polyphony ) but still haunting & beautiful.

              The best of the 2017 New Year be with you Sonny and your family

            • chemrock says:

              Sonny, Bill
              It’s good to see we have 2 guys here appreciating some things from the spiritual to the realm of art.

              Art is very important to nurture the souls of the community. That’s why in Spore our govt invested heavily to bring art and culture to the island. We have the ‘Durian’, more or less inspired by the Sydney Opera House. The arts should never be govt directed, but this is Spore. Unfortunately, Singaporeans are mostly data people, one hardly sees any real musical talent coming out of there. The only one I know is Rex Goh an original member of Air Supply. Philippines are full of talent in this field. Unfortunately this artsy potty world is high society stuff. Pity its not easily accessible to the masses other than on TV.

              • sonny says:

                No matter the times, the places, the circumstances, chempo, we carry the music to tame the savage beast we also carry with us. Your timely blog reminds us of this. Thanks.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Hi Chemrock
                I guess from some perspectives Sonny & I with our posts about A Capella music, have taken your blog in a direction different to that which you probably intended.

                But I think that such music, like that of Leonard Cohen helps many people to cope emotionally & spiritually with the pain and stress of great loss. In the midst of everything going bad, we can still connect and find peace…

                Also folks who know the 12 Step programs ( AA & Al Anon, NA etc) will remember the Serenity Prayer which is said by members of these groups

                “Lord grant me the ability
                To accept the things I cannot change.
                Courage to change the things I can.
                And the wisdom to know the difference”

                In the midst of the ongoing tragedies unfolding for so many in the Philippines, maybe some will find comfort from the music & the Serenity prayer

              • josephivo says:


                Promoting the serenity prayer is part of the problem. Too many believe they can’t change anything, so let’s concentrate on the meal tonight. And another group see as the only thing they can do is pray, but there is no political evidence at all that prayers did help in any political decision.

                Joeam’s questions in the next article are the right ones.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Hi Josephivo
                Yes some folks do mishear the serenity prayer to read
                “Lord Save me
                And help me accept everything that happens
                because you never give me wisdom
                And I have no courage at all !”


                There is little that you or I can do with such people. They will believe what they do believe.
                But that does not mean that you have to accept their ‘mishearing’ for yourself.

      • Absolutely, chemrock. No one wants a Broken End.

        The Holy and the Broken End/Means could be explained by the Algebraic Rules of Adding
        Integers: 1) The sum of adding two positive integers is always positive 2) The result of adding two negative integers is always negative 3) When a positive number is added to a negative number of the same value, the sum will always be zero 4) The sum of a negative integer and a positive one will take the sign of the number with bigger absolute value.

        PH government strategists wanted peace and order, as well as public safety as the Holy End to the Drug War. Commendable intention and a noble positive end, but they chose negative means to bring it about. Hence, the sum is the Broken End, with the mirage of the original intent.

        PH needs mathematicians in government service. 🙂

        The question is, how could they recover from the Broken End and redeem themselves?

  9. Unlike Bill , I came across the music of Leonard Cohen not in the 70s but in the early 2000s , in some strip club near the base. But like chempo’s article, Cohen’s song danced sensually to by a naked woman , was spiritual for me.

    Mr. Cohen’s music is for manny strip club DJs and strippers sort of their anthem. Granted the bulk of strippers here dance to hip-hop (black and Hispanic girls) and alt rock (Whites and asian girls), but in slow nights (even afternoons), when there’s less patrons,

    you’ll hear Cohen’s music.

    I’ve always thought that if they played Cohens music during the prime hours,

    you’ll cause some sort of spiritual awakening– a revolution in thought if you will.

    I think what started this whole strip club-Cohen music connection was the movie Exotica, to the song, “Everybody Knows” (Google the video, that’s a classic scene)… that was in the 90s, then in 2000s there was the “Dancing at the Blue Iguana” movie, also featuring Cohen’s songs (Exotica was a far better movie)… I could be wrong, and Cohen’s music may have always been alive in these sectors.

    Now to connect all this to the Philippines ,

    I’m not sure how many here are familiar with the sex industry over there, but if you ‘ve visited buy me drinkie clubs there, wherein if you take out a girl, you pay the house, hence it’s not a strip club, but a place of prostitution,

    if you notice the music they play, it’s like 80% Bon Jovi, then some Journey, and other classic rock , also Filipino songs , I distinctly remember the tune to “Bulaklak” (lyrics: Ang bango-bango, ang bango-bango
    Ang bango-bango ng bulaklak
    ‘Pag inaamoy, ‘pag inaamoy
    ‘Pag inaamoy anong sarap
    … and yeah, the lyrics has been explained to me, LOL! i love it! Lol no spiritual enlightenment there, LOL!)

    So here’s my point, the shabu industry there is closely related to the sex industry. The street walkers, cell-phone/facebook/social media contact, casa prostitutes , unless they play music to patrons won’t be affected in our little experiment,

    but if we can get Leonard Cohen’s songs played at say the bars in Angeles, EDSA entertainment complex, etc. etc. I think there’s a possibility that we can affect some sort of spiritual awakening among the young working women in the Philippines ,

    wherein amidst this bloodbath, Cohen’s songs will be an anthem for them , as they learn to gyrate to Cohen’s song, very different from gyrating (actually it’s the cha-cha, LOL!) to say Journey or Bon Jovi, their Cohen renditions will cause them to realize the irony, the sadness, but then the hope in Cohen’s song (I guess the realization that the ground, no matter how bleak, is closer to the clouds, and thus the sky , than they realize , nay than we realize, at least this is my take away of Cohen’s songs)


    chemp , if you can get to the EDSA Entertainment Complex, just a hop and a skip from Makati (take karl or Wil with you 😉 ), you guys get their DJs to play Leonard Cohen, and then see if it spreads to other clubs , and then if , whether or not, there is some change in the sex industry, and thus affecting also the shabu industry here.

    your mission if you choose to accept, is to get Leonard Cohen popular in the Philippines , and get rid of Bon Jovi, Journey, etc. Keep us posted , chemp.

    (from “Exotica”)

    • chemrock says:

      Always nice to hear your views from unusual angles.

      You are right, sensuality prevails in almost all Cohen’s songs. Halleluyah is no exception. Some other stanzas are more explicit. The art part is that they don’t come across as vulgar. They tilltilate if you let yourself go, and yet you can interpret in a non sensual way.

      Sorry I can’t accomplish your mission. I have stepped into naughty bars maybe only 3 times in my life. Never enjoyed the vibes. First time in Spore with a bunch celebrating a friend’s birthday. The women asked what I was doing there, I should be in school they said. I was 23 but had babyish looks. The second in London on my own, I wandered into bar down in old Soho. A half clad lady joined me and scared the shit off me. She was Jamaican black and one and half tines my size. I didn’t finish my drink. Third time here in Jupiter Makati just to accompany a China man, went for some free drinks.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Lance is not just a G.I. he is a B.I and GI is not for good influence.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Yes LC Leonard Cohen always saw the sacred and the profane as intimately connected…
        But I have never been a strip club patron whether in Australia or in the Philippines..

        And I doubt if my Bhoebe lovely lady would wish to come or me to go, should I now take up promoting Cohen in such places as a calling.

  10. Manu Reyes says:

    I like Jeff Buckley’s rendition.

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