Praised as “brilliantly revelatory…a masterful work of critical journalism” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), The Holy or the Broken is the fascinating account of one of the most-performed rock songs in history—Leonard Cohen’s heartrending “Hallelujah.”
How did one obscure song become an international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, a song each successive generation seems to feel they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own? Celebrated music journalist Alan Light follows the improbable journey of “Hallelujah” straight to the heart of popular culture.
About the Author
Alan Light has been one of America’s leading music journalists for the past twenty years. He was a writer at Rolling Stone, founding music editor and editor-in-chief of Vibe, and editor-in-chief of Spin magazine. He has been a contributor to The New Yorker, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, and Mother Jones. He is the author of The Skills to Pay the Bills, an oral history of the Beastie Boys; The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”; and cowriter of the New York Times bestselling memoir by Gregg Allman, My Cross to Bear.
"Thoughtful and illuminating... [Mr. Light] is a fine companion for this journey through one song’s changing fortunes." — The New York Times
"A combination mystery tale, detective story, pop critique and sacred psalm of its own." — The Daily News
"Brilliantly revelatory... A masterful work of critical journalism." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A deeply researched mixture of critical analysis and cultural archaeology." — Los Angeles Times
"Keeps the pages turning... A well-constructed, consistently enlightening book, which should have Cohen devotees and music fans alike seeking out their favorite version of the song." — The Boston Globe
"Fresh and compelling." — Entertainment Weekly
"Reverentially details every stage in the [song's] evolution—and along the way, he reveals the compelling stories behind some of its most iconic interpretations." — The Atlantic
"Absorbing…Eloquent... Light expertly unpacks the song's long, strange journey to ubiquity." — The Village Voice
"A must for music fans." — Booklist (starred review)