Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 361
Sat, Jan 11, 2013

“Harrowdown Hill [extended mix]”
Thom Yorke


“♫ We
think the same
things at the
same time/ we
just can’t do
anything about

Of all the angry songs Thom Yorke has written throughout his illustrious and enigmatic Radiohead songwriting career, it was a solo recording from 2006’s The Eraser, “Harrowdown Hill” is the one that he described as, “It’s the most angry song I’ve ever written in my life; I’m not gonna get into the background to it, the way I see it… And it’s not for me or for any of us to dig any of this up. So it’s a bit of an uncomfortable thing.”

The uncomfortable aspect of this mysterious Eraser cut is Thom Yorke’s take on the baffling suicide of UK’s former Weapons Inspector and Government Scientist Dr. David Kelly who had been linked to the missing weapons of mass destruction leading up to the Iraq War after 9/11. “I’ve been feeling really uncomfortable about that song lately, because it was a personal tragedy, and Dr. Kelly has a family who are still grieving. But I also felt that not to write it would perhaps have been worse.” Yorke said, right after the release of The Eraser in 2006, admitting he was reluctant to comment on the song trying to be sensitive to Kelly’s family.

But Yorke did manage to say this about Dr. Kelly’s death to the UK’s Globe and Mail, “The government and the Ministry of Defense were implicated in his death. They were directly responsible for outing him and that put him in a position of unbearable pressure that he couldn’t deal with, and they knew they were doing it and what it would do to him.” By channeling the frustrations of this [alleged] injustice creatively, Thom Yorke recorded one of the most infamously dynamic electronic protest songs ever. Think Dylan’s “Hurricane” with a more sinister backbeat. But unlike Dylan’s classic, Yorke has masked the lyrics purposely wanting you to investigate further the mystery behind Thom’s ambiguous symbols.

If you think about it, “Harrowdown Hill” is a 21st Century tribute Thom created by trying to keep them legacy of Dr. David Kelly alive in song. If it wasn’t for “Harrowdown” how many people outside of the UK would ever know the tragic death of Dr. David Kelly. “Harrowdown Hill” is definitely a thinking person’s protest song, it does has a killer beat that you can dance to it, but it’s the memory of Dr. David Kelly’s death haunts you after the beats have subsided the true mystery begins.

This extended mix of “Harrowdown Hill” slowly unravels like a futuristic mystery slowly introducing colorful beats like characters from Thom’s rhythmic pallet coming alive on Yorke’s electronic sound canvas. I love the pulsating bass sound that was definite precursor to Yorke inviting Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers to join Atoms for Peace to help Thom bring songs like “Harrowdown Hill” to life on stage around the globe.

Discover one beat at a time, why Thom Yorke calls “Harrowdown Hill,” “the angriest song I’ve ever written in my life.” And after its rhythms have subsided, uncover the conspiracy inside Thom Yorke’s “Harrowdown Hill.” The Eraser’s most dynamic track leaves behind the true lingering mystery of Dr. David Kelly’s death. Dr. Kelly’s legacy deserves a protest song this enigmatically eternal as in techno/tribute/tragedy that is “Harrowdown Hill.”