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Thom took to deadairspace this morning to announce the release of a special one-off charity track. The title gives you the gist — this is a tribute to one Harry Patch, who was the last surviving UK veteran of WWI until his recent passing at 111. He moved Yorke, by his life and his words, so Radiohead being the sensitive sentient band they are have memorialized the moment in song. Thom writes:

Recently the last remaining UK veteran of the 1st world war Harry Patch died at the age of 111.
I had heard a very emotional interview with him a few years ago on the Today program on Radio4.
The way he talked about war had a profound effect on me.
It became the inspiration for a song that we happened to record a few weeks before his death.
It was done live in an abbey. The strings were arranged by Jonny.
I very much hope the song does justice to his memory as the last survivor.

It would be very easy for our generation to forget the true horror of war, without the likes of Harry to remind us.
I hope we do not forget.

As Harry himself said
“Irrespective of the uniforms we wore, we were all victims”.

Download it at download.waste.uk.com for the price of £1. Proceeds benefit the British Legion. (Thanks for the tips, Steve and Duncan.) And for more on Harry, here’s a video featuring the vet at 109.

“Harry Patch (In Memory Of”
“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”

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Comments (115)
  1. Sam  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    Don’t you mean WW1?

  2. D. Haze  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    My confusion was I thought this was a charity track for Harry Partch. Excuse me.

  3. Terry's Chocolate Orange  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    heavy stuff. the strings are beautiful.

  4. i would probably worship the ground they walk on, but this song isn’t very good.

  5. Steve  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    The strings are indeed beautiful if a little conventional
    But Thom’s voice is downright awful, what the fuck! Thom’s voice has been in decline these past few years but man I’ve never heard sound this bad.
    Can’t wait to see the Thom Yorke apologists justified this….
    “The song’s about war n’ shit, his voice should be whiny” blah blah FUCK OFF!!

    • thom yorke apologist  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

      fuck you, steve.

    • Coj  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

      To be honest I’m not that big a fan of Radiohead or Thom Yorke, but I do think there is an excuse for why his voice doesn’t sound as good as it usually does. I would say it’s because there are very few low frequency sounds in the song, which usually give his voice, and the song as a whole, more sonic depth. Here his falsetto is competing primarily with high pitched strings and it doesn’t seem to match up too well. What’s more, I think you can tell it was recorded in a hurry.

    • anon  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

      Here’s some of the attention you wanted.

  6. Phil B  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    i’ve never understood, giving free listens to charity songs, but whatever… the main string lines are very conventional, but there’s much more going on behind it. thom sounds like thom. sure, he sounded better back in the day, but who doesn’t… you ever heard billie holiday and done comparisons between when she was younger and then when she was older? big difference. drugs played a part, i’m guessing. i like this song, by the way.

  7. creepfan  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    The sentiment is great but this song is awful. The lyrics are like 4th grade poetry and the singing doesn’t fit the music. Sounds like Johnny farted some ‘epic’ orchestration and Thom screeched his way through it. The whole thing reeks of suck.

    • I’m pretty sure all the lyrics were taken directly from the interview.

      • anono  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

        You’re right, they were.

      • creepfan  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

        For that, I apologize about the 4th grade poetry comment. Wouldn’t want to tarnish the memory of someone who faced such great obstacles and lived to tell them.

        Nonetheless, those of you who are insisting that it’s damn near blasphemous to mention a song about such an honorable cause/person is terrible well, it’s just music. And yeah, that music can be beautiful and filled with emotion but it can also be very bad regardless of what it’s trying to convey. And even a band like Radiohead can get it wrong sometimes. Suck it up and hope they do better next time.

  8. Radiohead is horrible. I pity you people who listen to overhyped trash the so called “indie” media feeds you.

  9. I’m a huge Radiohead fan. I’d wager maybe the biggest here. That also, however, makes me a harsh critic of the band (as super-fans usually are) but I think I can safely say this is boring and not very good.
    Sorry boys.

  10. Terry's Chocolate Orange  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    you trite nerds are making me ill. i rarely attempt to defend a song from someone’s tastes, but if you know anything about Mr. Patch and the life he led then you might at least appreciate the feeling that this song means to elicit.

  11. Tim Das  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    How very polarizing – a sign of true art and uncompromising artists, no?

  12. jb  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    Very reminiscent of the theme in the movie Shopgirl…
    http://www.amazon.com/Shopgirl-Barrington-Pheloung/dp/B000CC1U00/ref=pd_cp_d_3_img
    Tracks 2 and 9

  13. Keep it up and we’ll have “World War Head” within this comments section.

    This song serves its purpose. It’s a way for Thom to let go his feelings and is a very “fans only” single. Nothing more, nothing less.

  14. meh  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    hmm i duno, i tihnk its kinda cool, very bare and real sounding, i read the comments and expected much worse

  15. Chris W  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    A very cool homage indeed and a pretty beauty filled b-side. For everyone that said Thom’s voice has fell off I don’t think is right. In Rainbows main musical focus was on his voice I thought. IDK, did anyone see them tour last year. Nude was without a doubt the smoothest vocals through the 2 performances I saw live.

  16. anon  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    There’s nothing wrong with Thom’s voice, in general. Have you guys heard any of his Latitude performances? He sounded great.
    Sure, his voice may be a little too high pitched for this song, but it’s still a beautiful song with a generous purpose.

    And haters: the lyrics were taken from Harry Patch’s own words. Thom didn’t make them up.

  17. this is a great song. beautiful. great part writing for Jonny. changes in the textures from major to minor incredible. Radiohead is my second religion…so…. Thom can cough up blood while singing and i’ll love every bit…whats up with people on the internet!??!!? BASH BASH BASH. sad what this generation is becoming.

    • Lane  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

      usually w/ radiohead its praise praise praise… but im glad to see people will still call shit when they hear it. I dont think they would have released this if it wasnt going to benefit an organization, or did they just write this since his passing? Either way its pretty bad.

      • anon  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

        “usually w/ radiohead its praise praise praise”

        Not really. Radiohead posts have their fair share of haters.

  18. I think I’ll clarify…. This has been the only time I have ever thought while listening to Thom that I could absolutely write a better vocal melody. The melody is way too slow and obvious.
    I understand this song has meaning, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not a very good song.

  19. grace  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    lovely song.

  20. Rodd  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    I don’t get the criticism. It is a great song, very fitting.

  21. Jbot  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    Hey dudes, about the vocal/track in general. it’s live. It’s probably one – two takes. There’s probably not much processing to it. There’s minimal mixing. It was recorded before he died and is posted as a response to his death. WEEEEE!!!!

  22. Richard  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    i like this song, and the motives behind it… if you dont like the song dont listen to it

    • creepfan  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

      Thanks, Richard for that beautiful insight. I didn’t know that I didn’t like the song until AFTER I had heard it. My bad. Did you hear it? It sounds exactly the way poop smells so don’t be hatin’…or if you don’t want to hear a persons critique or opinions, don’t come on a music blog that wants you to do just that.

  23. SAMMY  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    Beautiful song. Fuck the haters!

  24. brian  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    i love me some RH, but this song is naff!

  25. Eric Ryan  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    Damn it’s for a good cause and it’s a beautiful song (love the use of strings, Jonny!!!!)

  26. aids  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    huge radiohead fan, i dont like this

  27. SteveC  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    RICHARD you have to listen to it to form an opinion durrrrr

  28. OK song. considering its only Yorke and Greenwood tho, really sounds thin and IMHO shouldn’t even be considered a Radiohead track. Even with the money going to a good cause, I am not going to support. Nice of them to put together but since its such a moving tribute, could have used alot more polish. dissapointed

    • Tom  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

      You can’t give one pound to support a good cause because you aren’t a big fan of the song? That is absurd. Does this mean you never support a cause unless you are rewarded with great tangible benefits?

      • anon  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

        *applauds*

      • randy  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

        Uh, I have donated a whole motorcycle to the Katrina victims relief fund before. I am a fan of Radiohead, but that song really doesn’t even sound like Radiohead and it sounds like a piss take on top of that. I don’t need to be rewarded to be charitable but that filler track isn’t worth the time or money to download. If they want to get people to support a good cause, present a quality track…

    • Yeah – agree. Should have possibly been a Yorke & Greenwood track as [to me], musically it seems to be indulging Jonny Greenwood … [i.e. There Will be Blood soundtrack ... ]

  29. Drew  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    It’s certainly not their best work and they’d probably agree, but I love the strings and I like the simple lyrics – I think they’re more impactful that way. Let’s face it – Radiohead’s average stuff is far better than most band’s best work…

  30. easy  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    I love radiohead, but honestly, is this really going to get repeat listens on anyones ipod? Sheep.

  31. The vocals are weak but its due to it being played live. The song is nothing short of brilliance. A music video usually helps put a song into perspective. I’d love to see this happen with this song. Can’t wait for the new material!! !

    • allshookup  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

      I don’t understand. Are you saying they should autotune and cut and paste his vocal tracks into a comp to make this a better song? Radiohead can’t make a good song without computer manipulation? I thought that was left to cookie cutter pop stars?

      • It’s the whole sound + vision that gives the listener a whole new appreciation by enjoying it visually. For example, I love Karma Police but when I first watched their video for it, it made me appreciate it even more. I know there’s a really good video director out there who can make something incredible out of this Harry Patch song.

  32. easy  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    the lyrics are stirring but the delivery is just…

    it sounds like simple jack recorded a song about war.

  33. Hoedown  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    Horrible vocals. This is just like almost every new Radiohead song nowadays, the music starts out good but then all goes to hell when Thom decides to open his mouth.

    • anon  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

      Are you insane? Thom’s voice, in my opinion, is what makes most of Radiohead’s songs work. The way he sings connects to the listener’s emotions AND he uses it as an instrument. I’m grateful to Thom for “opening his mouth.”

      • hoedown  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

        I use to love Thom’s voice, but it just isn’t working for me anymore, especially in his higher register. Sometimes I wish Jonny would just take over and do all of the instruments and vocals himself, he could probably recreate Thom’s vocals with some aluminum foil and rubber bands or something.

        • anon  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

          Aw, that’s a real shame.

          I don’t know, I think his vocals have gotten better…His voice on In Rainbows is “prettier” than his voice on the others. The vocals on The Eraser were nice too. But whatever floats your boat, I guess.

  34. As usual … RH stir the usual reactions from people who don’t seem to get them … but this isn’t the forum for the whole ‘do you / don;t you’ with Radiohead …. Personnaly, I think the points that have already been said about Thom’s voice against the String arrangement are spot on, it’s got to be a hard thing to sing over … I also think this seems to be a perfect outlet for Jonny’s orchestral work he seems to be enjoying [see soundtrack for There will be Blood] …. anyways … I like it ….

  35. oppotaco  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    anyone who didn’t like it is an asshole. there i said it. assholes.

  36. Christopher  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    the song is very moving, quite beautiful, and much nicer when you can hear it in high quality (as opposed to the crap quality you tube stream)

    “conventional strings”, “thom’s voice sounds awful”: to these people: eat piss

  37. tom w  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    I personally love this track. It reminds me of something you would here crackling on an old phonograph. It feels like a relic of another age (which I think, considering the subject matter, was the point). In many ways it reminded me of Julian Koster and his whole aesthetic. Somewhat paradoxically, I feel as if this song would work really well for a soundtrack (I get a feeling like I’m floating through space when I listen to it; a Kubrick sort of feel).

    That said, I have been obsessed with the story of Harry Patch recently, so I’m also predisposed towards liking this.

    I would welcome an entire album with this sort of orchestration from Radiohead.

    • al jackson  |   Posted on Sep 6th, 2009 0

      Tom, you are one of the few who “get it.” This song was never intended to be a highly produced piece with all the modern assistance of a real studio. It was supposed to sound like a crackling old phonograph. That’s the beauty of it. It’s coming from truth. Not perfection. Like Stanley Kubrick as opposed to Michael Bay. It’s raw. It’s unprofessional. But it has soul. Most of the others on this blog are more comfortable with Britney Spears.

  38. Pretty odd, but not bad at all. WWI was nuts. I think most people who read this forgot what it was all about.

  39. I like the first couple of Radiohead albums best. I think it’s nice of Thom Yorke to pay his respect to Harry Patch and remind us of WW1. It was a horrible war.

  40. Kenn  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    God I love to see what you punters say when you have a chance to air your views. Just reinforces my view that we’re a global village of idiots.

  41. hilly  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    this song is average but still better than 99% of the crap music of today!

  42. The Great Nobody  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    For all those who are joining in on the hate bandwagon- don’t forget that people dismissed Kid A as a joke when it was first released. Now, it is considered a landmark album. Radiohead have been notorious for being difficult to appreciate. Time and patience are the keys that unlock this genius.

  43. the Radiohead song’s okay. the strings are beautifully lush, but everything else including Thom’s soloed voice didn’t seem to carry any direction. but maybe that’s the point of war–it doesn’t go anywhere.

  44. historyman68  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    Thom’s voice usually has a lot of reverb on it to smooth out the rough edges. These strings seem pretty heavily reverbed too, so the lack of verb on Thom’s voice stands out even more. It caught me off guard too, but I’d say it’s more likely a mixing issue than anything else.

    • anon  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

      That’s true. Maybe they couldn’t mix it well because they didn’t have enough time or other projects…

  45. pat  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    I think this sounds exactly like what Radiohead want it to sound like, but to be fair, the stream isn’t exactly the highest quality. I don’t quite see where the vocal hate is coming from – this is classic Thom Yorke falsetto. Kinda reminds me of “Motion Picture Soundtrack” more heavily-orchestrated and with Yorke’s vocals up an octave.

  46. MillsDavisYo  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    People are crazy! I think Thom’s voice is gorgeous but yet again it’s acquired taste – just like everything with Radiohead.

  47. Snow White  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    so the moral of the story is this: Auto-Tune is like war, a necessary evil. Otherwise, people’s voices sound like crap and everyone keeps fighting. Wait, what?

  48. john   |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    some people make me sick. it;s not about radiohead or strings or produciton or his voice. clearly the truth is wasted on most. i’ve never written anything in these spaces but the hair has risen on my neck. fuck you all ignorant children of the consumer generation. your opinions are worthless. men died so you could give them. millions of them

  49. killbill2  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    why is this track so freakin polarizing? it’s just a charity song. on a side note, thom’s voice sounds very Neil youngish or is it just me?

  50. Ron  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    To all the wankers who slagged the song off – You just dont get it do you? this band has just done something wonderful to the memory of this great man who fought his way through terrors and night mares and you fucking dickheads just wanna slag the song – see behind the song you fucking parasites – if it wasent for men like Harry Patch you wouldnt be here today.
    Fucking idiots.

    • Snow White  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

      I can write a song about Jesus. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Jesus. Doesn’t mean it’s a good song.

    • al jackson  |   Posted on Sep 6th, 2009 0

      Ron, these people aren’t into art or soul. They like Brittany spears, N’SYNC and Wham. It’s sort of like Bob Dylan’s voice. It wouldn’t win any talent contests. But it rose above. Music doesn’t have to technically be perfect. It just has to touch the soul. And this kind of music just doesn’t touch their soul. John Lennon’s Imagine was wrought with imperfections. Crack s in his voice. Off timing. Intentionally bad studio recording. But it’s beautiful. Art should be raw, not perfect. You and I understand this. Most of this page does not.

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