This Version of Leonard Cohen's 'Lover, Lover, Lover' Is Not Something You Hear Often

Listen to Shai Tsabari's version of the song Cohen wrote while visiting Israeli soldiers in the Sinai during the Yom Kippur War.

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Leonard Cohen, portrait, London, June 1974
Leonard Cohen, portrait, London, June 1974Credit: Michael Putland / Getty Images

Indie musician Shai Tsabari released a new rendition this week of Leonard Cohen’s 1974 song “Lover, Lover, Lover.” Shlomi Shaban is responsible for the Hebrew version of the song.

In this rendition of the song that Cohen wrote during the Yom Kippur War, the final lines are, literally: “And may the spirit of this song / waft in pure freedom / May it be a shield for you / against the enemy and the cold.” In rock pianist Shlomi Shaban’s translation into Hebrew, the lines rhyme.

Ana, ana, anaCredit: YouTube

When the war broke out, Cohen came to Israel with the intention of helping in whatever way he could. After he arrived in Tel Aviv singer Oshik Levy encountered Cohen and invited him to come along with him and his Geneva Conference ensemble to appear before Israel Defense Forces troops in the south. At first, Cohen was hesitant – he did not think his doleful ballads would lift the fighters’ spirits and improve morale – but in the end he agreed. After his first performance in the south he scribbled the words to the song “Lover Come Back to Me,” which later became “Lover, Lover, Lover.”

According to Cohen, he wrote the song for the soldiers on both sides – the Israelis and the Egyptians. In a performance in Tel Aviv in 1980 he told the audience that his experiences with the forces in Sinai were “invigorating and depressing.” The song appeared on his 1974 album “New Skin for the Old Ceremony.”