Happy Veterans/Remembrance Day, everyone. I’d like to share a haunting, beautiful tune today that fits this occasion rather well…
“Harry Patch (In Memory Of)” by Radiohead.
This song was released last August as a charity single (proceeds all go to the Royal British Legion) in tribute to Harry Patch, the last surviving trench fighter in World War I, who passed away last July. It’s a bit unlike Radiohead’s other music, with just Thom Yorke’s voice and a lush string arrangement by Jonny Greenwood. The lyrics are a slightly altered version of Patch’s own words. I’d like to take the time to post them here:
“i am the only one that got through
the others died where ever they fell
it was an ambush
they came up from all sides
give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves
i’ve seen devils coming up from the ground
i’ve seen hell upon this earth
the next will be chemical but they will never learn”
The realities of war are still stark and in our faces almost a century after Harry Patch gave his service in World War I. I applaud Radiohead for taking the time to create this outstanding piece of music to help us all remember the intense suffering, loss, and sacrifice of war…but also, within the music, providing hope someday for peace and unity. It’s a powerful message, and a powerful song.