Down By the Water: Ten Songs About Water. Diana Fountain Given the Go Ahead in Hyde Park, London. This Day in History, 29/06/2001.

1.  PJ Harvey ‘Down By the Water’

(from the album To Bring You My Love, 1995).

2.  Ultrasound ‘Aire and Calder’

(from the album Everything Picture, 1999).

3.  TLC ‘Waterfalls’

(from the album CrazySexyCool, 1994).

4.  The Who ‘Water’

(from the album Who’s Next (bonus track), 1971).

5.  Ute Lemper ‘Little Water Song’

(from the album Punishing Kiss, 2000).

6.  Talking Heads ‘Once in a Lifetime’

(from the album Remain in Light, 1980).

7.  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‘Sad Waters’

(from the album Your Funeral … My Trial, 1986).

8.  Blur ‘Oily Water’

(from the album Modern Life is Rubbish, 1993).

9.  The Delgados ‘Everything Goes Around the Water’

(from the album Peloton, 1998).

10. Damien Rice ‘Cold Water’

(from the album O, 2002).

Evil: Ten Songs About Real Murders. In An Attempt to Save Her Young Children From Satan, Andrea Yates Drowns All Five of Them in a Bathtub in Houston, Texas. This Day in History, 20/06/2001.

1.  The Killers ‘Jenny Was A Friend of Mine’

(from the album Hot Fuss, 2004).

2.  Interpol ‘Evil’

(from the album Antics, 2004).

3.  Luke Haines ‘Leeds United’

(from the album Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop, 2006).

4.  Catatonia ‘Road Rage’

(from the album International Velvet, 1998).

5.  The Boomtown Rats ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’

(from the album The Fine Art of Surfacing, 1979).

6.  Morrissey ‘Jack the Ripper’

(from the album Beethoven Was Deaf, 1992).

7.  At the Drive-In ‘Arcarsenal’

(from the album Relationship of Command, 2000).

8.  The Dodgems ‘Lord Lucan is Missing’

(single A-side, 1978).

9.  The Rolling Stones ‘Midnight Rambler’

(from the album Let it Bleed, 1969).

10. The Smiths ‘Suffer Little Children’

(from the album The Smiths, 1984).

Song of the Day: Biography in Music (Day Six). ” … Until You Admit, You’re A Fuck Up Like the Rest of Us”.

Sometimes even the greatest, most talented artists fall by the wayside and are lost in the abyss of obscurity forever more.  And sometimes these artists are thankfully brought back into public consciousness by a song written about them.  One such artist is Bob Lind.  For Pulp’s 2001 album, We Love Life, Jarvis Cocker penned Bob Lind (The Only Way is Down).

The song, as with the rest of album was produced by Scott Walker, in his only production work carried out for a band or artist outside of his own work.  Walker, just like Lind, had also been subjected to years of obscurity following the commercial failure of his now critically acclaimed album Scott 4 (1969).  Walker spoke of his wilderness years in the 2006 documentary, Scott Walker:  30 Century Man:

“The record company called me in [following the commercial failure of Scott 4] and carpeted me and said you’ve got to make a commercial record for us … I was acting in bad faith for many years during that time … I was trying to hang on.  I should have just stopped.  I should have said, ‘OK, forget it’ and walked away.  But I thought if I keep hanging on and making these bloody awful records … this is going to turn round if I just hang in long enough, and it didn’t.  It went from bad to worse …”

Cocker even included a reference to a Walker record in the song Bad Cover Version from the album, slating the second side of 1970’s ‘Til the Band Comes In, which is often and rightfully described as being inferior to the first side:  “The second side of ‘Til the Band Comes In”.

Cocker has since stated that Bad Cover Version was written way before Walker became involved in the project.

So, there is a certain amount of irony about Walker producing a song about another artist who faced years of obscurity.  Bob Lind, born November 25th, 1942 in Baltimore, Maryland, United States is an American folk music singer-songwriter who helped to define the 1960’s folk rock movement in America and England.  Lind is best known for his transatlantic hit, Elusive Butterfly (Don’t Be Concerned, 1966), which reached number 5 in both the UK and US in 1966.  Despite the fact that many musicians have covered Lind’s songs and he still continues to write, record and perform, he still remains relatively unknown.

The Bob Lind story starts in 1965 when he signed a contract with Liberty Records’ subsidiary, World Pacific Records.  It was on this label that he recorded Elusive Butterfly.  The single might have done better on the UK Singles Chart had there not been competition from established Irish recording artist, Val Doonican, who released a cover version of the song at the same time.  In the end, both versions of Elusive Butterfly made number 5 in the UK in 1966.

The B-side of Elusive Butterfly featured Cheryl’s Goin’ Home, a song which was covered by Adam Faith, the Blues Project, Sonny & Cher, John Otway, the Cascades and others.  Other Lind songs were eventually covered by more than 200 artists including Cher, Glen Campbell, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Eric Clapton, Nancy Sinatra, The Four Tops, Richie Havens, Hoyt Axton, The Kingston Trio, Johnny Mathis and Petula Clark.

Despite recognition for his song writing ability and the success of Elusive Butterfly, Lind’s star was to shine very briefly.  Plagued by drug and alcohol problems, Lind gained a reputation in the music industry for being difficult to work with.  In 1969, he severed all ties with his record company.  Three years after leaving World Pacific, Capitol Records released the album Since there Were Circles, an album well-received by critics but not commercially successful.  Lind then dropped out of the record industry altogether for a number of years.  Other recognition came from writer friend Charles Bukowski, who based the character Dinky Summers in his 1978 novel, Women and Other Writings on Lind.

In 1988, Lind moved to Florida where he write five novels, an award winning play and a screenplay, Refuge, which won the Florida Screenwriters’ Competition in 1991.  He also became a staff writer for supermarket tabloids Weekly World News and Sun.  He returned to music in 2004, three years after Pulp’s Bob Lind (The Only Way is Down), when, at the request of his friend, Arlo Guthrie, son of Woody Guthrie, he performed live at the Guthrie Center in Becket, Massachusetts.  Lind began touring again and has toured ever since.

In 2006, Lind established his official website.  In the same year, RPM Records re-issued the album Since There Were Circles and Lind self-released the Live at Luna Star album featuring performances of new material.  In 2007, Elusive Butterfly: The Complete 1966 Nitzsche Sessions was released in the UK by Ace Records whilst in 2009, filmmaker Paul Surratt made the concert / documentary film about Lind entitled Bob Lind:  Perspective.  Most recently, 2012 saw the release of Lind’s first album of new material in 41 years, Finding You Again, produced by guitarist of the band The Spongetones, Jamie Hoover.  The album was once again released in Ace Records.  Additionally, as well as naming the song Bob Lind (The Only Way is Down) after Lind, Cocker and bandmate Steve Mackey included the Lind recording Cool Summer (The Elusive Bob Lind, 1966) on their 2006 compilation album The Trip:  Curated by Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey.

In 2013, Lind was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, along with Judy Collins, the Serendipity Singers and Chris Daniels.

In a 2001 interview with NME to accompany the release of We Love Life, Cocker said of Bob Lind (The Only Way is Down):

“There was this bloke in the late ‘60s called Bob Lind.  One of his most famous songs is Elusive Butterfly, which was one of my favourites when I was younger.  Something about the sound of this song made me think of him.  It’s about someone who is a fuck-up.  And sometimes there’s something good about admitting that.  Most people who are famous and wealthy tend to be more fucked up than everybody else.  Bob Lind, he writes quite, kind of, sweet songs but then they’ve often got quite negative words.  For instance, there’s a song of his called Remember the Rain [Photographs of Feeling, 1966] …

… which is basically saying:  “Remember the rain, when you walk in the sunshine”, it’s saying, “Oh right, you might be having a good time now, but listen, you will be having a shit time soon” – which is a pretty negative thing to write about and yet it’s quite a nice, jangly little tune.  So that song reminded me of him a bit.  So Bob Lind was just a working title, but then as sometimes happens, I couldn’t think of a better one.  So I just left it.  And he did get in touch the other day and said, “I’m gonna sue”.  No, he didn’t – he got in touch, and he seemed to be quite flattered that somebody had remembered him”.

Song of the Day: Biography in Music (Day Two). “The CIA Says You’re A Guilty Man, Will We See the Likes of You Again?”

Let Robeson Sing is a song from Manic Street Preachers’ sixth studio album, 2001’s Know Your Enemy, credited to all three band members, James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire.  Released as the fourth and final single from the album, the song is about black American actor, singer and civil rights activist, Paul Robeson (April 9th 1898 – January 23rd 1976).  Let Robeson Sing centres mostly on Robeson’s advocacy of anti-imperialism, affiliation with communism and his criticism of the United States government which led him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

After graduating from Columbia Law School with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), in which time he also played football in the National Football League (NFL) and sang and acted in off-campus productions, becoming a participant in the Harlem Renaissance with performances in The Emperor Jones and All God’s Chillun Got Wings.  Robeson also initiated his international artistic resume with a theatrical role in Great Britain, settling in London for the next several years with his wife Essie.

Robeson’s next performance was as Othello at the Savoy Theatre before he became an international cinema star through his roles in Sanders of the River (1935) …

… and Showboat (1936).

At this time, he became, more so than ever, attuned towards the sufferings of other cultures and peoples.  Many warned that if he became politically active, it would ruin him economically but Robeson acted against this advice, setting aside his theatrical career in order to advocate the cause of the Republican forces of the Spanish Civil War.  He then became active in the Council on African Affairs (CAA).

Throughout the Second World War, he supported America’s war efforts and won accolades for another portrayal of Othello, this time on Broadway.  However, his history of supporting pro-Soviet policies brought much scrutiny from the FBI.  Following the end of the Second World War, the CAA was placed on the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organisations and Robeson was investigated during the age of McCarthyism.  Due to his decision not to recant his public advocacy of pro-Soviet policies, he was denied a passport by the US State Department, and as a consequence, his income plummeted.  He moved to Harlem and published a periodical critical of United States policies.  Robeson’s right to travel was eventually restored by the 1958 United States Supreme Court decision, Kent v. Dulles.

1958 also saw the publication of Robeson’s manifesto / autobiography, Here I Stand.  Following this, he embarked on a world tour using London as his base.  In Moscow in August 1959, he received a standing ovation at the Lenin Stadium where he sang classic Russian songs along with American standards.  Robeson and Essie then flew to Yalta to rest and spend time with Nikita Khrushchev.

On October 11th 1959, Robeson became the first black singer to perform at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.  On a trip to Moscow, he experienced bouts of dizziness and heart problems which resulted in him being hospitalised for two months.  During this time, Essie was diagnosed with operable cancer.  Once recovered, Robeson returned to the UK to visit the National Eisteddfod, a yearly Welsh language festival.  Meanwhile, the State Department had circulated negative literature about him throughout the media in India.

In October 1960, Robeson embarked upon a two month concert tour of Australia and New Zealand with Essie, primarily to generate money but also at the request of Australian politician Bill Marrow.  Whilst in Sydney, he became the first major artist to perform at the construction site of the future Sydney Opera House.  Following his appearance at the Brisbane Festival Hall, they went to Auckland where Robeson reaffirmed his support of Marxism, denouncing the inequality faced by the Maori and efforts to denigrate their culture, publicly stating, “… the people of the lands of Socialism want peace dearly”.  He also became outraged at the deprivation of the Australian Aborigines.  Robeson, consequently, became outraged and demanded the Australian government provide the Aborigines citizenship and equal rights.  He attacked the view of Aborigines as unsophisticated and uncultured, saying, “There’s no such thing as a backward human being, there is only a society which says they are backward”.

Back in London in 1961, Robeson planned to return to the US to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, stopping off in Africa, China and Cuba along the way.  Essie, fearing that Robeson would be killed if he returned to the US and would be unable to make money due to harassment from the US government, argued that they should stay in London.  Robeson disagreed and made his own travel arrangements, stopping off in Moscow in March 1961.

During an uncharacteristically wild party in his Moscow hotel room, he locked himself in his bedroom and attempted suicide by cutting his wrists.  Three days later, whilst under the care of the Barvikha Sanatorium, he confided in his son that he felt extreme paranoia, adding that he felt the walls of his hotel room were moving and that he had become overcome by a powerful sense of emptiness and depression, leading him to attempt suicide.

His son, Paul Jr., believed that his father’s health problems stemmed from attempts by the CIA and MI5 to “neutralise” his father.  He remembered that his father had had similar fears prior to having an operation on his prostate.  He said that three doctors treating Robeson in London and New York had been CIA contractors,and that his father’s symptoms resulted from being subjected to mind depatterning under the CIA’s secret programme, MKUltra. These illegal experiments were intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations and torture, in order to weaken the individual to force confessions through mind control.

Following his stay at the sanatorium until September 1961, Robeson returned to London, where his depression re-emerged and three days after arriving back, he became suicidal and suffered a panic attack whilst passing the Soviet Embassy.  He was admitted to the Priory Hospital.  There, he was given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and heavy doses of drugs for nearly two years.  No psychotherapy was given alongside these treatments.  Throughout his treatment at The Priory, Robeson was monitored by the British MI5.  Both the MI5 and the FBI were well aware that Robeson was suicidal.  The FBI remarked that his “death would be much publicised” and used for Communist propaganda, therefore he required continued surveillance.  It was also advised that his passport not be renewed, something which would greatly jeopardise his recovery.

In August 1963, disturbed about his treatment, friends had Robeson transferred to the Buch Clinic in East Berlin.  He was given psychotherapy and less medication, with physicians expressing anger at the high level of barbiturates and ECT which had been administered in London.  He improved greatly but doctors were keen to stress that what was left of Robeson’s health should be quietly conserved.

In 1963, Robeson returned to the US and lived in seclusion for the remainder of his days.  For a short time, he assumed a role in the Civil Rights Movement and made a few major public appearances.  However, in 1965, he fell seriously ill on a tour with double pneumonia and a kidney blockage, which nearly killed him.  Robeson died on the 23rd January 1976 following complications from a stroke.

Song of the Day: War in Music (Day Six). “What If I Take My Problem to the United Nations?”

For her eighth studio album, Let England Shake (2011), PJ Harvey looked to war for inspiration and in particular, the war in Afghanistan, which Britain was heavily involved in at the time of the album’s writing and recording.  Harvey also took inspiration from past conflicts, most notably the two World Wars.  Of the album’s subject matter, Harvey told Uncut Magazine in January 2015:  “I’ve always felt that I’m affected by the world, by the way we treat each other, by the way different countries treat each other”.

Let England Shake was not the first time that Harvey had spoken about war in her music.  On her 1996 album with John Parish, who also collaborated on Let England Shake, Dance Hall at Louse Point (credited to John Parish and Polly Jean Harvey), she included the song Civil War Correspondent.

At this point in time, Harvey never explained her lyrics and they were, more so than ever, left open to broad interpretation.  One could assume that the civil war mentioned in the song is the 1992 – 1996 Afghan Civil War, a phase of the war in Afghanistan which had been raging since 27th April 1978.  The war in Afghanistan had started when the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) took power in a military coup, known as the Saur Revolution.  Most of Afghanistan subsequently experienced uprisings against the PDFA government.

In December 1979, the Soviet War in Afghanistan began with the aim of replacing the existing communist government.  The mujahideen, Afghanistan’s resistance forces, fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  Some factions received support from the US, with the Pakistani ISI serving as the US middleman, and Saudi Arabia.  The Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in February 1989.  The Soviet-backed Afghan communist government survived for three more years until the fall of Kabul in 1992.

In 1992, Afghan political parties agreed on the Peshawar Accords, a peace and power-sharing agreement which established the post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan after the resignation of communist President Mohammad Najibullah and appointed an interim government.  Militia leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar opposed the agreement and with Pakistani support started a bombardment campaign against Kabul, signalling the beginning of the 1992 – 1996 Afghan Civil War.  In addition, three militias who had been able to occupy some suburbs of Kabul engaged in a violent war against each other.  Other than Kabul, other cities to witness violent fighting included Mazar-e Sharif and Kandahar.

Despite these assumptions that the civil war of which Harvey speaks in Civil War Correspondent is probably the Afghan Civil War, it is left open to interpretation.  Therefore, the narrator of the song could easily be a correspondent in any war, making the song a stark reminder that all war is the same:  Each war has its casualties and its devastating effects on those involved, whether on the frontline or witnessing the atrocities from a journalist standpoint.  “Word leave my heart dry, Words can’t save life, Love has no place here, No joy, no tears” sings Harvey emotionally on the song.  Perhaps the correspondent is actually Harvey herself as opposed to a media correspondent, a songwriter attempting to put into words what she sees through the media.  “I shout but he don’t hear, Just put down the page, Darling spare me your tears, Dear God please send me the light of day, I can feel his, Heart wired, Heart like, Gunfire …” continues Harvey in the guise of a war correspondent watching a soldier losing hope in the face of the brutality he is facing.  By the end of Civil War Correspondent, the soldier’s mind and spirit has been consumed by the war and he cannot escape the gunfire anymore than he can escape his own heartbeat.

On her 2000 album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, Harvey had been inspired by her love of New York City.  Take for example, Good Fortune, with its references to China Town, “In China Town, hung-over, you showed me just what I could do” and Little Italy,  “When we walked through Little Italy, I saw my reflection come right off your face”.

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea also includes the highly prophetic song One Line, which includes the lyrics, “I’m watching from the wall, As in the streets we fight, This World all gone to war, All I need is you tonight”.

Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea won the Mercury Music Prize, the ceremony for which was held on September 11th, 2001, the infamous day as the terrorist attacks on the USA.  Harvey was in Washington DC and had witnessed the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon from her hotel room window.  When she was announced as the winner, she made her acceptance speech by telephone, saying, “It has been a very surreal day.  All I can say is thank you very much, I am absolutely stunned”.

Following the September 11 attacks, the USA announced its War on Terror, a term coined by President George W. Bush.  The USA, backed by its close allies, including Britain, invaded Afghanistan.  The war followed the Afghan Civil War phase (1996 – 2001) and public aims were to dismantle al-Qaeda and deny it a safe base in operations in Afghanistan by removing the Taliban from power.

Additonally, in 2003, the USA, with assistance from the United Kingdom, invaded Iraq, signalling the start of the Iraq War, which aimed to and succeeded in toppling the government of Saddam Hussein.  The conflict continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the post-invasion Iraq government.  The USA and United Kingdom officially withdrew from the country in the 2011, the year of Let England Shake’s release but the insurgency and various dimensions of the civil armed conflict still continue.

After witnessing the horror of the September 11 attacks which sparked off the Afghanistan War firsthand, it is no wonder that Harvey would at some point in her career feel compelled to compose more songs pertaining to war, this time using the subject of war to create a concept album.  Harvey began writing the lyrics for the album before setting the words to music.  She has cited the poetry of Harold Pinter and T.S. Eliot as influences, as well as the artwork of Salvador Dali and Francisco de Goya and the music of The Doors, The Pogues and The Velvet Underground.  She also researched the history of conflict, including the Gallipoli Campaign, and read modern-day testimonies from civilians and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of the musical content on Let England Shake, Harvey makes full use of the autoharp which she began to play in concert some years prior to working on the album.  She told local newspaper Bridport News in 2001:  “I was really enjoying this different, enormous, wide breath of sound that the autoharp gives.  It’s quite a delicate sound, but it’s also like having an entire orchestra at your fingertips.  I began by writing quite a lot on the autoharp, and then slowly as time went by, (because this album was written over two and a half years) … my writing started moving into experimenting with different guitars, and using different sound applications, ones that I had never really experimented with”.

In order to tell the tales of war which make up Let England Shake, Harvey adopted a very different vocal style to that used on previous works.  Harvey commented in her 2011 interview with Bridport News that “I couldn’t sing [the songs] in a rich mature voice without it sounding completely wrong.  So I had to slowly find the voice, and this voice started to develop, almost taking on the role of a narrator”.

Let England Shake is a wonderfully executed suite of war-inspired songs.  The title of the album and its opening track can be interpreted in two ways with respect to the two different periods of time which inspired the songs.  Firstly the opening line of the title track, “The West’s asleep, let England shake” refers to the past, before World War One, when England appeared to be a perfect epoch for peace and prosperity.  The Western world was asleep, overconfident in its own power, economy and technological development.  The brutality of both World Wars proved the opposite and England was one of the countries which suffered the cruel and tragic consequences.  Secondly, the same line also refers to the present, where we find Harvey pondering as to whether England is now, once again, overconfident and whether the Western world is, once again, on the brink of collapse.  Therefore, based on historical evidence, England will, indeed shake again.  Interestingly, shortly after the release of Let England Shake, a series of riots occurred across England, breaking the deceptive state of calm.

Additionally, Let England Shake features the lines “I fear our blood won’t rise again, Won’t rise again”, an observation about death.  In this line, Harvey is saying that if our blood doesn’t rise again, from the graves that contain our corpses, then there is no hope.  The line also poses an attack against the teachings of Christianity, which has justified the most horrendous actions against humanity throughout history, such as Crusades, Inquisition, paedophile networks and torture practices.  Christianity states that we are going to be saved by Jesus after death and this life is not a real one, for only in resurrection will we be reunited with divinity and eternal life.

Further into the album, we find the song This Glorious Land, the third track and the second single to be taken from the album.  The lyrics of This Glorious Land refer to the military and the ongoing Afghan War, told from the perspective of the locals in a country invaded by England and America (“Oh, America, Oh, England”).  The song tells of how such interventionism often exploits those being invaded, removing their culture and ability to be a contender in the world economy:  “How is our glorious country ploughed, Not by iron plows, Our land is plowed by tanks and feet, Feet, Marching”.   The people of the invaded country are also often forced to exploit their own children in order to survive.  The lyrics in the final refrain allude to the disastrous effects of war:  “What is the glorious fruit of our land?  The fruit is deformed children, What is the glorious fruit of our land?  The fruit is orphaned children”.   Whilst the song was primarily inspired by the conflict in Afghanistan, it could also refer to the bombing of Japan by America and Britain during the Second World War.

The fourth track on the album and its first single, The Words That Maketh Murder, is also about the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan as well as the World Wars, the First World War in particular.  The lyrics also criticise diplomacy, particularly in the final refrain, “What if I take my problems to the United Nations?”  which, with dark humour, finds the subject of the song, who has experienced the unimaginable whilst involved in the conflict such as “soldiers fall[ing] like lumps of meat”, looking to the international peacekeeping body for help.  The refrain is based on a lyric from Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues (1958), where he sings, “I’m gonna take my problems to the United Nations”.

The reference to the United Nations places the song’s setting in the modern day, i.e. the Afghanistan War, as opposed to the First World War, as the United Nations did not exist until 1945.  The League of Nations, the United Nations predecessor, was regarded as powerless and content to allow the strong to bully the weak and, two decades after the First World War, failed to stop the outbreak of the Second World War.  The United Nations has been slightly more successful but has also often ignored, as recently as the Invasion of Iraq by the US and Britain.

In the lead up to the catchy and beautifully conceived refrain, Harvey paints a bleak picture of battlefield carnage.  “I’ve seen and done things I want to forget, I’ve seen soldiers falling like lumps of meat, Blown and shot out beyond belief, Arms and legs were in the trees”.  The lyric “Longing to see a woman’s face” finds the subject of the song missing the comforts of home, perhaps his wife or just female company.  “Instead of words that gather pace” is likely to refer to the Treaties and threats that tipped Europe into the First World War in 1914.  After the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand is Sarajevo, all of the world’s major powers were pulled into the First World War one by one.

The chorus of the song, “The words that maketh murder, These, these, these are the words, The words that maketh murder …” are a further attack on the diplomacy which surrounds war.  By referring to war tribunals as “The words that maketh murder”, Harvey is discussing the way in which killing on the battlefield is seen as legitimate but when investigated by war tribunals, it can be classified as a war crime.  Whilst the work that the soldiers carry out is important, killing, regardless of circumstances, is still murder.

Following the first chorus, we find the line “I’ve seen a corporal whose nerves were shot”, a reference to Post Traumatic Stress (shell-shock), which is a common ailment suffered by soldiers who have fought in wars.  The line “I’ve seen flies swarming everyone” and later lines “Death lingering stunk, Flies swarming everyone, Over the whole summit peak, Flesh quivering in the heat” refer to the way in which war was often conducted in extremely unsanitary conditions and disease was as big a threat to the soldiers’ survival as the opposing side.  The repetition of lyrics about soldiers falling is most likely an expression of shell-shock related flashbacks.

The video for The Words That Maketh Murder’s single release in January 2011 was directed by Seamus Murphy, who also created videos for the other eleven tracks on Let England Shake.  Harvey contacted Murphy after seeing his “A Darkness Visible:  Afghanistan” exhibition in London in 2008.  In her interview with Bridport News, she said that she “wanted to speak to him more about his experiences being there in Afghanistan”.  After an initial meeting, a collaboration grew with Murphy taking charge of promotional photographs for the film in July 2010 and completing the promotional videos in January 2011.  The resulting videos were screened at various UK festivals between the 14th and 17th July 2011 and released on the DVD Let England Shake:  12 Short Films by Seamus Murphy on the 12th December 2011.

The video for The Words That Maketh Murder features Harvey practicing the song on the autoharp.  The opening scene features lights shining through a car windshield, followed by imagery of warfare such as a soldier walking through an open field.  Later in the video, the soldier is shown dead in the middle of the road during the lyric “I’ve seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat”.  Additionally, the video shows soldiers dressed in formal uniform and children playing a war-related video game.  Other scenes show a funfair and slips from a rock concert as well as a ballroom scene filmed in Blackpool, a still from which was used as the single’s artwork.

Let England Shake was named Album of the Year in no less than 16 different publications, including Uncut, Mojo, NME and The Guardian.  In September 2011, ten years after winning the Mercury Music prize for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, she won the Mercury Music Prize for Let England Shake.  This win marked the first time in the award’s history that it had been awarded to the same artist twice.

Our Bovine Public: Ten Songs About Cows. Scientists Warn That the Current Outbreak of CJD (the Human Variant of BSE or ‘Mad Cow Disease’) Could Get Much Worse. This Day in History, 14/05/2001.

1.  The Cribs ‘Our Bovine Public’

(from the album Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, 2007).

2.  John Cale ‘Hanky Panky Nowhow’

(from the album Paris 1919, 1973).

3.  The Wonder Stuff ‘The Size of a Cow’

(from the album Never Loved Elvis, 1991).

4.  The Go-Betweens ‘Cattle and Cane’

(from the album Before Hollywood, 1982).

5.  Rage Against The Machine ‘Bulls on Parade’

(from the album Evil Empire, 1996).

6.  Morrissey ‘The Bullfighter Dies’

(from the album World Peace is None of Your Business, 2014).

7.  The Kinks ‘Milk Cow Blues’

(from the album The Kink Kontroversy, 1965).

8.  Sparklehorse ‘Cow’

(from the album Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, 1996).

9.  Foo Fighters ‘For All the Cows’

(from the album Foo Fighters, 1995).

10. The Smiths ‘Meat is Murder’

(from the album Meat is Murder, 1985).