I et nyligt interview med Spinner forvekslede Matthew Friedberger fra The Fiery Furnaces hovedpersonen i Radioheads sang “Harry Patch (In Memory Of)” med den eksperimenterende amerikanske komponist og instrumentbygger Harry Partch. Sangen var ellers ment som en hyldest til den sidste overlevende britiske soldat fra 1. Verdenskrig.
Friedberger er citeret for at have udtalt følgende:
Oh, please listen to our new song about Harry Patch. Fuck you! You brand yourself by brazenly and arbitrarily associating yourself with things that you know people consider cool. That is bogus. That’s a put-on. That’s a branding technique, and Radiohead have their brand that they’re popular and intelligent, so they have a song about Harry Patch.
How’s the song? Is it 48 notes to the octave? What does it have to do with Harry Patch? Oh, my wife says I am being very rude. She doesn’t like me insulting Radiohead. She’s afraid they will send their lackeys through the computer to sabotage us. But they needn’t worry — we are a band that sabotages ourselves.
Nu er Friedberger så ude med et statement, der skulle vise, at han udmærket er klar over hvem Harry Patch er, og at ’misforståelsen’ var ment som en joke. Overskriften til statementet er “We LOVE Radiohead, of course!”, og det lyder:
Like most creative musicians, Matt Friedberger is not a fan of Radiohead and their various chartbusters.
Of course, Matt and all of The Fiery Furnaces family have the greatest respect for all Tommies (det engelske ord for soldat, red.), living or dead. So much so that lots of The Fiery Furnaces work is, because of the pun, dedicated to imitating the Who’s “Tommy”.
Now, back in the fall of 1996 or whenever that interview was conducted, the interviewer asked what Matt thought of a Radiohead song celebrating a WWI veteran.
Of course, Matt never ‘misread’ any song title, as has been reported. Though he is not very proficient at it, he can actually read. Matt naturally thought it would be interesting to pretend that they wrote a song about the celebrated American composer with a similar sounding name, hence his joking in the interview about Radiohead composing a song with something like 48 notes to an octave. It was easy and amusing to imagine Radiohead’s attempt to colonize that relatively arcane bit of our musical lifeworld. No doubt that would be very successful.
Matt has not heard the Radiohead song about Harry Patch, as opposed to his imaginary one about Harry Partch, but if he did, he is sure he wouldn’t like it. No doubt Radiohead and their fans can ignore his opinion of this matter and the band can continue with their triumphant artistic interventions.
Matt would have much preferred to insult Beck but he is too afraid of Scientologists.