Breaking Hallelujahs

by Gerardo Tony Mena

Tony Mena began learning the piano at the age of 12 with encouragement from his parents. At the age of 14 he gave up the piano and focused on high school athletics. After 9/11 he joined the military and entered the Special Operations community with the Reconnaissance Marines.

In 2004 Mena was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and began relearning to play the piano after buying a small keyboard.

During his tour in Iraq, Mena was asked by his batallion to play music for four separate funeral services. During the downtime between missions, he began learning how to play the acoustic guitar with the help and instruction of several members of his platoon.

Tony Mena received a Navy Achievement Medal with a V for Valor for multiple acts of bravery while under enemy fire in Iraq. Upon completion of his military service, he attended the University of Missouri, where he surrounded himself with music and poetry as a means of dealing with many of the events he experienced in war.

“Breaking Hallelujahs” reinvents Leonard Cohen’s ballad with startling relevance. King David and the biblical context of the original “Hallelujah” is replaced here by a man singing, with honesty and hard-earned transcendence, beyond the present-day battlefied of Iraq. Stick around until the two minute fifty second mark of “Breaking Hallelujahs,”and feel the gift of shared emotion: what most art can only aspire to. I haven’t been moved by a piece of music like this in a long time, and I am grateful for Tony Mena, and his song. www.gerardomena.comZachary Greenberg

I do not fear soft walls.
I do not fear them.
My spear is sharp, my soul is fierce,
I do not fear you.

I do not fear you.

You are breaking hallelujahs,
You are breaking them down.
My thoughts are carved into my skin
As I close my scarlet eyes.

As I close my scarlet eyes.

There are cracks in my face
As I beg for light.
When I cry out for sky,
The treasure is me.

The treasure is me.

I am not broken,
Not anymore.
I am not broken,

So I sing…

Hallelujah, I am found.


Go here to download “Breaking Hallelujahs”

Or listen to Gerardo Tony Mena’s I Felt the Earth Spin Today

Or listen to more music in our current issue