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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

8 of 1001 Songs: Radiohead's Harry Patch (In Memory of)

So far I've only listened to eight songs on the list, but Radiohead's Harry Patch has to be the most powerful so far. The song is one like I haven't heard before. The spooky vocals in line with the more tribunal instrumentals makes for an interesting mix, and shows that Radiohead has no box for the realm of music they will perform. Thom Yorke goes where the inspiration carries him.

History: This song is actually a tribute to the last living soldier who fought in World War 1. After he passed away Yorke wanted to do a song after being inspired by an interview that occurred earlier with Patch. The song was approved by the family and the song's earnings did go to proceeds went to charitable causes. Critically the song was well reviewed for it's vocals and instrumentals.


Vocals: Thom Yorke is the vocalist of Radiohead and in his style he shapes the tribute. The instrumentals are a bit different than the usual Radiohead style, but Yorke's voice is hard to miss. He makes it eerie, but also very light and ethereal in it's own way. Yorke's voicing follows no pattern or rhythm though it just flows with it's own sound. Depending on how heavily you like Radiohead will probably determine your reaction to the tune.

Instrumentals: Unlike many Radiohead songs where rock instrumentals are involved this one forgoes that instead enlisting Johnny Greenwood to organize the string instrumentals for a more orchestra themed song for this one. It works beautifully to create the tribune sound for the song, and honestly is the best part of the song. The instrumental set not only reflects on the loss of the person they've dedicated this song to, but also the seriousness of what this man lived through as well.

Lyrics: Radiohead has always been open about their anti-war views, so when this song came out a lot were curious about the lyrics and their tribute to a veteran. I think though that the song though reflects more on just how this guy survived something traumatic, and also the leaders' voicing in wars. Yorke goes a little less vague with this song, but it remains vague enough to keep the stance of the band steady, but also respect the man they've chosen to name this song after.

Radiohead is one of the songs that is the highlight of a long line of highlights in their song career. The guys' have a talent for writing and composing music that is truly unique. They also look to it home with this one on a song that more so is seeking to memorialize someone, and this makes the song less divisive for audiences. It also never treads on their own views.

Rating 7 of 10.

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