PJ Harvey Covers Leonard Cohen for Bad Sisters Soundtrack

pj harvey the moth descending all about eve
(Photo by Ian Gavan / Getty Images)

PJ Harvey and composer Tim Phillips have teamed for a cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Who by Fire” for the original soundtrack album for the Apple TV+ series Bad Sisters, the first two episodes of which are now streaming.

The soundtrack, due in October, features additional score music from Harvey and Phillips, details of which are still under wraps. Bad Sisters star/executive producer Sharon Horgan reached out to Harvey personally to participate in the project, a “darkly comedic murder mystery” rolling out weekly through Oct. 14.

 

“I thought of the words of ‘Who by Fire’ soon after the series was picked up and thought how perfect it would be,” Horgan says. “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 affected by the music and Polly’s voice. I still can’t quite believe we pulled it off.”

Adds Harvey, “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.”

Harvey hasn’t released a new studio album since 2015’s The Hope Six Demolition Project, but composed the score for the BBC miniseries The Virtues in 2019. She also released a full-length narrative poem, Orlam, in 2021.

As previously reported, a separate Leonard Cohen tribute album, Here It Is, arrives Oct. 14 from Blue Note and features performances by Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, James Taylor, Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan and Mavis Staples.

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