When was it recorded? Early 1960
When was it first released, and on which album? Nov. 20, 1995 on “Anthology 1”
Who wrote it? Ray Charles
Have I heard this song before? Just the original
What my research dug up:
“Hallelujah I Love Her So” was originally written, recorded, and released as a single by American soul musician Ray Charles. Charles was massively prolific, but in case you missed out, he pioneered the common style of the soul genre by combining R&B, jazz, gospel, and blues themes into his songs. According to Wikipedia, “He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records” and was one of the first African American musicians allowed artistic control of his own material by his record company. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Charles #10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and #2 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time (Wikipedia). [Aside: Reading that Charles died ten years ago made me feel old.]
Charles recorded and released “Hallelujah” sometime in 1956; it found its way onto his self-titled album the following year. I like this live version from 1963 a little bit better.
Charles’ version peaked at #5 on the US Billboard R&B chart. “Hallelujah” also gained Charles a lot of recognition from other artists. In Nov. 1959, American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran recorded a cover of “Hallelujah.” His recording was a hit in the UK in Feb. 1960. According to the Beatles Bible, this is the version of the song a young Paul McCartney purchased and played for the rest of the group (then the Quarrymen).
(Quality photograph right there.)
With Paul, John, and George on guitars and Stu on bass, the Quarrymen recorded their version of “Hallelujah” at Paul’s home in 1960.
Now, original bootlegs of the Beatles’ “Hallelujah” lasted around two and a half minutes and were in the key of A. For some reason, the version that appeared on “Anthology 1” was sped up, lasting less than one minute and a half and in the key of B flat. This is the Anthology version.
Gotta love that early quality. Here’s a bootleg version – sound’s still crunchy, but it’s closer to the original speed and key, plus George gets a guitar solo in.
Like many of their early covers, the Quarrymen/Beatles continued playing “Hallelujah” in their live shows. This version was recorded at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany in 1962. Quoth Wikipedia, “They dropped it soon after, and it was never attempted in the studio.”
Maybe it’s not a fair comparison considering how polished the original is and how rough the Quarrymen’s version is, but I greatly prefer Ray Charles’ version of “Hallelujah” to any of the cover versions. Sound quality aside, there’s something in his performance that makes me believe he really is enamoured with his song’s subject. That early into their careers, the Beatle boys just weren’t mature enough to convince me.