By Edgar Treiguts, CNN
Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.
(CNN) – It's a song that's been recorded by hundreds of artists. It's been a favorite in TV competition shows and been used as a healing anthem in times of tragedy. And just recently, after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, 'Hallelujah' emerged again.
The popularity of 'Hallelujah' was hardly foreshadowed when it was written and first recorded by Leonard Cohen in 1984. The song was on an album Cohen's record company decided not to release.
A decade would pass before it was embraced by another artist, and its true introduction began.
Author Alan Light writes about the song's journey from obscurity to what he calls now a "modern standard".
[1:20] "There are now countless ways that people first encounter this song and so there isn't one fixed version that everything gets compared to because people enter it through all of these many different uses and these many different versions. And it allows it to be a lot more flexible and a lot more malleable then a song where everybody starts from hearing the same version and everything gets compared to that."
Alan Light's new book is The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"