On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Radiohead – Harry Patch (In Memory Of) (2009)
” Harry Patch (In Memory Of)” is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. The song is a tribute to the British supercentenarian Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier to have fought in the trenches during World War I.
It’s the end of 2009! We’re remaining in the UK today, dear reader, but leaving London and heading for Abingdon in Oxfordshire. It is a fourth appearance on our list from Radiohead which is mighty impressive. We pick up their story in 2009 with seven albums now behind them and fans eagerly awaiting their eighth record. 1001 Songs have chosen to focus not on any albums but on a solitary single by the name of Harry Patch (In Memory Of).
Harry Patch passed away in 2009 at the age of 111 and he was notable not just for his service in the British army but for being the last combat soldier to have served in World War I to die. Harry Patch (In Memory Of) is dedicated to the memory of Patch and is far removed from a typical Radiohead track. Thom Yorke sings of a soldier who is the only one of his unit to survive and with him he carries the horrors of all he has witnessed. He calls on political leaders to settle their differences by fighting one another, rather than relying on those at ground level to do their dirty work. The song ends with the sad realisation that war will go on, it will become more deadly with advancing technology and mankind’s inability to change its ways means peace will always be beyond our reach.
Released as a download with all proceeds going to the Royal British Legion, Harry Patch (In Memory Of) is a gorgeous tribute to a British hero and to all our brave men and women that have served in war. The song comprises Yorke’s heart-rending vocals while Johnny Greenwood swapped his guitar for a string arrangement. The song is heartfelt and moving, demonstrating even further how versatile Radiohead are.
Favourite songs so far: