A couple days ago, I was in the car heading somewhere, and listening to KYW News. Radiohead earned 60 seconds: enough time to discuss Harry Patch, the last living UK veteran to have fought during World War I. He died recently at 111 years of age, having lived long enough to see humankind catapult itself into technological heights that we now take for granted. And, as we’ve evolved, humanity still can’t seem to get along without war.
Patch was a pacifist, and had only begun discussing his war experiences about ten or eleven years ago. Thom Yorke was apparently moved by an interview he’d heard, and decided to write a song about Harry. According to Yorke, “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.”
“Harry Patch (In Memory Of)” was written by Yorke and composed by Jonny Greenwood, sort of in the same vein as his There Will Be Blood work, though less sinister.
The song is available for download at the equivalent of £1.00, proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.
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