This song, dedicated to the memory of Harry Patch, the last surviving British veteran of the First World War, was inspired by an interview that the old man gave for BBC Radio 4's Today programme. It was aired on december 24th 2005, and Thom was one of the listeners. He was deeply affected by things Harry Patch said, and would ultimately be inspired to write this song. These are the sections of the broadcast where Harry Patch speaks. Of special relevance for this song is the last part of the first clip:
A few direct quotes from the interview appeared in the Scrapbook section of radiohead.com:
The band worked on the song during the weeks before the death of Harry Patch on July 25th 2009.
In the morning of August 5th 2009, the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 aired it live for the first time, which came as a complete surprise. Thom then made a posting on Dead Air Space
On August 23rd 2009, the band (at least Thom and Ed, perhaps also Jonny) tried a guitar arrangement of the song at the soundcheck in Prague. Below are three recordings of the soundcheck:
Despite the soundcheck, the song has not been played live yet.