"Hallelujah". It's been covered by virtually every artist in existence.
"And love is not a victory march It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah". "Maybe there's a god above, and all I ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you." "And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah".
The version by John Cale, used in Shrek, is particularly gut-wrenching - and probably more affecting than the Rufus Wainwright version on the soundtrack album. Of course, when you're talking about this song, it's all relative...
Alison Crowe sings a heartbreakingly beautiful version of "Hallelujah" as well.
The apogee would have to the be the version turned out by the contestants and judges on The Voice in tribute to the Sandy Hook victims.
Another Cohen song would be "Stranger Song".
"And then leaning on your window sill he'll say one day you caused his will to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter And then taking from his wallet an old schedule of trains, he'll say I told you when I came I was a stranger I told you when I came I was a stranger."
"Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything that's how the light gets in..."
Bird On The Wire, sad all the way through, but contains what is going to be L. Cohen's epitaph:
Like a bird on the wire Like a drunk in a midnight choir I have tried, in my way To be free
Everybody knows the dice are loaded. Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. Everybody knows the war is over. Everybody knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows the fight was fixed. The poor stay poor; the rich get rich. That's how it goes; everybody knows.
Everybody knows the boat is leaking. Everybody knows the captain lied. Everybody knows this broken feeling like their father or their dog just died.
"I'll try to say, a little more - love went on and on; until it reached an open door - then love itself, love itself was gone."
"And what can I tell you, my brother, my killer, what could I possibly say? I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you, I'm glad you stood in my way..."
Although, these lines from "Famous Blue Raincoat" may be even worse: "Thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes; I thought it was there for good, so I never tried." Then it's bam! Tears welling up every time.