This Leonard Cohen song is almost becoming a cliche in terms of being covered by singers trying to be “serious” or “spiritual.” But it’s still a great song. Jeff Buckley’s 1997 cover is probably the most famous of all the most recent versions, but I prefer John Cale’s take. Cale’s cover was the version that was featured rather prominently in the first “Shrek” film. Hearing Cale’s inimitable Welsh voice sing this while watching a very mainstream family film was an odd, but very cool experience when I saw “Shrek” in 2001.
Talk about intense. From the posthumously released live album “Dream Letter: Live in London 1968,” Tim Buckley could go from a whisper to a scream at the drop of a pin. A great acoustic performance of an already great song that segues into a Supremes song at the end. Most of the people from my generation are more familiar with Tim’s son Jeff, who like his father, died tragically at a young age.
FYI – Buckley was director Hal Ashby’s first choice to play Woody Guthrie in “Bound for Glory,” until Buckley died of a heroin overdose in 1975. David Carradine did a fine job, but I always wonder what Buckley would have done in the role. Ashby paid tribute to Buckley by using Buckley’s “Once I Was” during Bruce Dern’s suicide scene in “Coming Home.”