Is Selling Two Minutes of Silence the Weirdest Thing Thom Yorke has Ever Done?
Remembrance Day is Britain's version of Veteran's Day. It's not on November 11, though, it's observed the second Sunday of November. Well, actually it's observed on 11/11, too, but just a little. Also, it's not to be confused with Memorial Day, or with Britain's version of Memorial Day, which is called Armed Forces Day now but used to be called Veteran's Day and is in June.
Confused yet? Good, because that's only a little taste of the oddness Radiohead singer Thom Yorke has cooked up to coincide with this year's Remembrance Day. He's actually going to release a record that features two minutes of somber music-free silence.
As you can hear in the above video it's not quite "silence" -- it's actually the sound of people (a tennis player, Yorke himself) staring solemnly at a camera and microphone while street noise and wind poignantly flow behind them. As Stereogum notes, it's an idea pioneered by American composer John Cage, who once released a record called 4'33" which features him not playing his piano for just over four and a half minutes. That, I admit, was thought-provoking -- if a pianist doesn't hit a key, is he a pianist? -- but although this is for a very good cause (troops and their families) this seems a little silly.
I mean, why not say something if you're selling a "song" to people for buy? Are we really past the point where Thom Yorke has anything left to say himself? Is this really the very best way he can communicate now? Or is this just a cheap stunt?
Is it possible to respect the cause while thinking this is a little corny and something else should have been done? I hope so, because that's how I feel. Really, is the public so jaded that we need to go from "saccharine sentiments and blandly catchy chorus" to just plain silence? Isn't there something else that could've been done? I feel like Yorke mailed this one in.
You can buy the track here if you want or just send the Royal British Legion some money and save the space on your hard drive.