"There Is a War" as written by and Leonard Cohen....
There is a war between the rich and poor,
A war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
And the ones who say there isn't.
Why don't you come on back to the war, that's right, get in it,
Why don't you come on back to the war, it's just beginning.

Well I live here with a woman and a child,
The situation makes me kind of nervous.
Yes, I rise up from her arms, she says "I guess you call this love"
I call it service.

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be a tourist,
Why don't you come on back to the war, before it hurts us,
Why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get nervous.

You cannot stand what I've become,
You much prefer the gentleman I was before.
I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control,
I didn't even know there was a war.

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be embarrassed,
Why don't you come on back to the war, you can still get married.

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.

Why don't you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burden,
Why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get even,
Why don't you come on back to the war, can't you hear me speaking?


Lyrics submitted by Hosimosi

"There Is a War" as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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There Is a War song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentA mix between a protest song, though it came a year late.
    But he also has elements of anger towards people who protest for nothing "tiny burden" (I thought people who protest out of boredom was a recent phenomenon) And a general anger at the human race for being so confrontational, it's essentially a better version of "Why can't we be friends" but using irony.
    Winterson January 08, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think however many kinds of war are mentioned in the song the real one Cohen has in mind is the war "between the man and the woman". This is the most ancient and cruelest of the human fights. Men and woman are biologically different: we have different instincts and different desires and maybe we'll never be able to fully understand each other... still we are so deeply entangled!

    That's why most of the people prefer not to think about it ("the ones who say there isn't") but the conflict is unavoidable. A man and woman will never be completely happy together. They are always enemies and never allies. The only choice we have is to fight the war untill the end or to reach a compromise were both the partners make some sacrifices. Pretty much like a cease-fire or at least a stall. I guess the marriage is the most common and consolidated name for this kind of deal:

    - why don't you come on back to the war, you can still get married -

    The war is not bad all togheter but it can be very dangerous. If both the partners are strong and independent they can try to survive it but and many good relationships have been simply wore off by the continuous fight:

    - why don't you come on back to the war, before it hurts us -

    In the end it all comes down to repress our instincts (and live monogamous relationship) or follow them (and live an open relationship). The decision is up to us...
    The only important thing is to realize that the "romantic love" is just an utopia and the only possible love is this kind of "service" and especially always talk about it with our lover:

    - why don't you come on back to the war, can't you hear me speaking? -

    I think it is really amazing how Cohen was able to condensate all this thorny problems in these few, simple but piercing, lines; leaving all the torment of the final decision to the passion in his voice.
    Neuroscientiston January 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThis song is a satirical exhortation to "come back to the war" between genders, classes, races. People in the war see the world in "black and white." They would have a war between such arbitrary binaries as "the odd and the even." The person who the song is addressing still has not rejoined the war at the end of the song, and the speaker of the song thinks that this may be because the person to who they are speaking cannot "hear [them] speaking." Asking the listener to come back to the war "before it hurts us" is clearly satirical given the nature of wars. Etc.
    nopeandnoon November 27, 2012   Link

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