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Playing the Guitar The Shrek Song (Hallelujah), Background and Basic Chords


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One of the greatest songs I've ever heard is Hallelujah, commonly known as the Shrek Song. This song has an interesting story. Written by Leonard Cohen and recorded on his 1984 album, Various Positions, the composing proved to be a challenge. “I filled two notebooks and I remember being in the Royalton Hotel (in New York), on the carpet in my underwear, banging my head on the floor and saying, I can't finish this song" he's quoted as saying. Filled with biblical references Cohen has said that he wrote up to 80 verses of Hallelujah.

References include “she broke your throne and cut your hair" which sounds like the famous Samson losing his strength when his locks were cut off. “I heard there was a secret chord which David played and it pleased the Lord" calls to mind David's harp playing for King Saul. “You saw her bathing on the roof" could be referencing David's adulterous affair with Bathsheba after seeing her bathe. Cover versions of Hallelujah abound. From Jeff Buckley to Allison Crowe, k. d. Lang to Bon Jovi there's enough versions to satisfy anyone's taste. One of the best known is Jeff Buckley's on his 1994 album, Grace. A bare bones version of vocals and guitar Buckley seizes the song and wrings emotion from it.

Tragically Jeff Buckley died in a swimming accident at the age of 30. A great loss to the music world of his talent and 3.5 to 4 octave vocal range. My favorite version is k. d. Lang's live performance at the 2005 Juno awards (Canada's version of America's Grammys). She prowls the stage and delivers a powerful performance of this powerful song. Gives me chills every time. This wonderful song has also been used in the television shows Lost, The Shield, Cold Case, The O. C. and Rescue Me amongst many others. And of course John Cale sang it in the movie Shrek and Rufus Wainwright sang it on the Shrek soundtrack.

I suggest you grab your guitar and learn this song. If you don't have a guitar buy or borrow one. There are many tabs, lyrics and chords out there on the internet for you to follow. Here's the basics. Intro: C Am C Am The first verse: C Am. . . C Am. . . F G C G. . . . C F G. . . Am F. . . G Em Am The Chorus: F Am F C G C Repeat for additional verses. Not a real simple song but not too complex either. Great, great practice for all you guitar aficionados out there. Practice playing and singing this song and you will be glad you did. Thanks for reading as always.

If you're interested in some great guitar courses available for download I've done the research and found what I consider to be the top five. Take a look and see what strikes your fancy. They're available at I also urge you to look for the various videos on the web of some of the artists mentioned above performing this great piece of classic music and decide for yourself which is your favorite. That's one of the many beauties of music. Endless variations and interpretations of the same piece.


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