Here’s one that should be familiar to a lot of people, as much for how often it is covered as for the original. Jeff Buckley’s haunting “Hallelujah” is over six minutes long and features only Buckley’s passionate, emotional vocals and a single electric guitar, but it has reverberated across the world since—perhaps made even more haunting since Buckley’s untimely death from a drowning accident in 1997.
While “Hallelujah” is most associated with Buckley, the song didn’t actually originate with him. Leonard Cohen first wrote and released the song in 1984, to relatively little fanfare, but it was Buckley’s sparse yet emotional performance of the tune a decade later that has given it lasting notoriety.
“Hallelujah” first appeared on Grace in 1994, the only studio album Buckley released during his lifetime. (His unfinished followup album Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk was released a year after his death.) “Hallelujah” has since been covered by the likes of Brandi Carlile, Rufus Wainwright, k.d. lang, and Willie Nelson, among many others. It has also been a popular soundtrack choice for numerous film and television shows.