July 8: Bob Dylan Plays “Hallelujah” (L.Cohen) in Montréal, Canada 1988 (audio)

Bob Dylan first performed Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ on July 8, 1988 at the Forum de
Montréal in Canada. Montréal is Cohen’s home town and it is possible that he attended the show.
Dylan’s second and final performance, on his “Interstate 88” tour, was on August 4, 1988, at the
final night of a three show residency at the Greek Theatre, Hollywood.

Dylan and Leonard Cohen first met sometime in the late ’60s and have remained friends ever
since, meeting whenever the opportunity arises. One such occasion was after a concert in Paris,
probably Dylan’s October 7, 1987 show at P.O.P.B. Bercy. The two songwriters spent some
considerable time talking shop, over coffee, in a café somewhere in the 14th Arrondissment of
Paris. Dylan told Cohen that he especially liked the ending to his then new song ‘Hallelujah’.
“And even though it all went wrong / I’ll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on
my tongue but hallelujah!”

~Derek Barker (The Songs He didn’t write)

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Forum de Montréal
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
8 July 1988

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • G. E. Smith (guitar)
  • Kenny Aaronson (bass)
  • Christopher Parker (drums)

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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 you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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 you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

10 thoughts on “July 8: Bob Dylan Plays “Hallelujah” (L.Cohen) in Montréal, Canada 1988 (audio)”

  1. Dylan sings the hell out of Hallelujah here; wish he’d include this version on one of his upcoming bootlegs. Thanks for posting! By the way, when is that official gospel bootleg due?

    1. Rumours are November..

      “Clinton Heylin’s new Dylan book “Trouble In Mind: Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years — What Really Happened.” Published in the UK by those nice people at route publishing, the book will be issued in paperback to coincide with the next official Bootleg Series box set release. Due for publication in the UK during the first week of November…” (www.bobdylanisis.com)

  2. Whay about Leonard Cohen’s remark that awarding Dylan the Nobel Prize was like giving Mount Everest a medal dfor being the highest mountain!

  3. I begin this comment with a thanks for the far ranging scope of “All Dylan.” When Bobby and I were friends back in the early 60’s I spent a lot of time defending his singing abilities to other folkies. I had come to the sacred halls of the Greenwich Village with a clear lyric tenor voice better suited to the Troubadour tradition of the time. My argument for Bobby’s singing was that “Whatever you think about his voice quality, this guy can really sing.” One day I mentioned to Israel Young that I wanted to try singing some of Bobby’s songs and I was met with stern resistance to that idea. I had the same experience with Barbara Dane who at one time pronounced, “What right does an Irish tenor have to sing folk music.” There were some narrow ideological ideas a’foot about what you could or could not sing. I thought Bobby’s path of Woody’s songs, following the examples of Dave Van Ronk and Ramblin’ Jack was a perfect fit and no one questioned their singing. When he started producing his own songs heads were changed by the brilliance of his unusual poetic metaphors, but it still took a while for nay-sayer’s to recognize what a really good singer he was. I’m now 83 and my voice has lost a lot of the luster of youth but now I sing songs of Bobby and Leonard with thanks for the songs of these great writers. The story of how I learned “Tomorrow is a Long Time” at first hand from Bobby in 1962 is chronicled in a video on Youtube. Leonard’s passed on but the beauty of his poetry will live on forever as will Bobby’s, whose singing of “Hallelujah” is a performance of greatness both for his singing and his understanding of Leonard’s poetry. I’ve been privileged to have a brief mention in “Chronicles” and in books by Dave Van Ronk, Suze Rotolo and Anthony Scaduto . I’m grateful to have lived into an era where even an old folky can continue singing and writing without worrying about what the pundits think. Here’s two links to Bobby and Leonard’s incredible music, humbly interpreted by this old troubadour.
    The Tower of Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O15qIy_cn88
    Tomorrow is a Long Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiPBnKph70w

    1. Thank you John, it’s wonderful to hear your tales and anecdotes from a time that must have been truly interesting to be a part of.

      We truly love your feedback.

      Hallgeir and Egil

      1. And thanks to you Halgier and Egil for continuing to chronicle the winds of history swirling around Bobby. I’ve heard endless versions of Hallelujah by noted singers but Bobby’s 1988 performance truly showed the depth of his respect for Leonard’s genius. Hallelujah!!!

    2. I am listening to your singing of Tomorrow is a long time, and love it. Thanks a lot 🙂

  4. I’d like to be a fly on the wall and get to listen to Dylan and Cohen talk shop. Or Dylan talking shop with any other song writer. Amazing stuff.

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