100 Greatest Songs of the Decade #39 PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Released : 2011

Were it not so enigmatic, so rich in metaphor or such a premonition of the confusion which would engulf the country over the rest of the decade, Let England Shake’s defining moment would’ve been PJ Harvey’s first performance of it on the Andrew Marr show, a normally sedentary look at British politics.

Performing with an autoharp and in orchid like headgear, the song’s inaugural outing took place in front of Marr and a completely bemused then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a somehow fitting requiem for a leader who’d politically been a dead man walking even before ascending to the role.

In a way we should be thankful that this distortion of normality has become the tip of a very wrong iceberg since: it would be utterly wrong to remember this rolling, timeless croon on such a trivial axis. England since has shook, staggering from earthquake to earthquake, punch drunk and unable to determine itself. A more fitting curse of our collective failure has probably never been recorded.

 

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