Nathaniel Rateliff, Kevin Morby, and Sam Cohen have teamed up for a new cover of Leonard Cohen’s “There Is a War”. The timely track was produced by Sam Cohen (no relation), and will benefit Rateliff’s The Marigold Project.
The song first appeared on 1974’s New Skin for the Old Ceremony, at a time when President Nixon’s message of “Law and Order” was getting drowned out by the Watergate scandal. Well, Trump has been beating that “Law and Order” drum, but he’s one-upped Nixon by providing so many competing scandals that none can dominate the headlines for very long. Meanwhile, the deep-seated conflicts that Cohen wrote about show no signs of abating.
The new cover has the three contemporary songwriters trading bars, so that their different voices give life to the different characters that Cohen sketched out. The junior Cohen pans the voices between the left and right speakers, providing a clear distinction between three vocalists who might otherwise have blended together. Altogether the approach does the rare trick of adding something new to a Cohen cover, emphasizing the various perspectives at work. Together, they sing, “There is a war between the rich and poor/ A war between the man and the woman/ There is a war between the left and right/ A war between the black and white/ A war between the odd and the even.”
In a statement, Rateliff explained how the collaboration came together. He said,
“I really love the work that Sam and Kevin have done together in the past. So I asked them to be a part of the Marigold Singles. We all have a mutual love for Leonard Cohen’s writing and felt that ‘There Is A War’ speaks to the world we currently find ourselves in.”
In February, Rateliff released his new solo album And It’s Still All Right, and this month Morby followed suit with Sundowner. Earlier this year, Sam Cohen produced Alexandra Savior’s album The Archer.