November 30, 2023

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PJ Harvey Covers Leonard Cohen’s “Who by Fire”: Listen

PJ Harvey has shared a cover of Leonard Cohen’s 1974 song “Who by Fire.” Harvey recorded the cut with composer Tim Phillips for the new Apple TV+ series Bad Sisters. Listen to Harvey and Phililps’ version of the track below.

The first two episodes of Bad Sisters are currently streaming on Apple TV+. A new episode will debut each Friday through October 14. Bad Sisters executive producer and star Sharon Horgan personally sought out Harvey to record a rendition of Cohen’s classic with the series in mind.

“It was a very enjoyable day spent recording the version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Who by Fire’ for Bad Sisters,” Harvey said in a press release. “I had spoken to Sharon Horgan in advance of the recording session, so I understood why she felt the song’s lyric was so perfect for the series, but also understood what nuances of Leonard’s performance she most loved, and therefore what to try and recapture but in my own way. Tim Phillips and I worked together on my performance for the song. I found Tim to be an inspiring and exciting work partner which made the whole experience flow.”

Horgan added: “I thought of the words of ‘Who by Fire’ soon after the series was picked up and thought how perfect it would be. Pretty soon after that, I thought of Polly’s voice singing those words and asked Apple if we could make that happen. I had been a fan of Polly for years and was nervous when we zoomed with her. I don’t have a musical vocabulary, but I know what I wanted. But we told her our ideas and about the series—it was quite fledgling at that stage, just photos and words, nothing filmed to show her, but she got it and loved it. We paired her up with Tim Phillips who had scored Shining Vale, so we knew he was genius at what he does. The tone of the whole series is effected by the music and Polly’s voice. I still can’t quite believe we pulled it off.” 

Bad Sisters is a dark comedy and thriller that centers on the Garvey sisters, who must cope with the sudden death of a family member while enduring an investigation by a life insurance company. The show stars Horgan alongside Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene, and Eve Hewson.

Earlier this year, PJ Harvey reissued her 2016 LP The Hope Six Demolition Project. The updated edition arrived with The Hope Six Demolition Project – Demos.

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