On Battleship Hill

Album: Let England Shake (2011)

Songfacts®:

  • This is one of three songs on Let England Shake that was prompted by the 1915 battle for Gallipoli, a grotesquely bungled attempt to seize Constantinople, which wiped out much of the Australian and New Zealand Army. Harvey told NME: "Battleship Hill was the place of a particularly bloody battlefield. The 'scent of thyme' was because it grows wild in Gallipoli."
  • Harvey concludes "cruel nature has won again" on this song and the beauty of the music deliberately offsets the bleakness of the scenes on the record. "I was very aware of not wanting to sing the words in a way that was going to add more weight to them," Harvey explained to NME, "because I felt like I would fall into sounding too dogmatic or self-important."
  • Harvey told The Sun about this song: "Throughout the songs on the album, nature plays a great role. I'd chosen to look at a lot of ancient folk songs from all over the world. Songs from hundreds of years ago passed down the line in Cambodia, Ireland, Vietnam, Russia. And a theme which comes through in all these countries' music is your relationship to the land. The lyric: 'I hear the wind say, cruel nature has won again,' captures that feeling. No matter what happens to us, nature will always be there. Which is comforting but also quite brutal."
  • This was used on the UK TV series Skins in the 2012 episode "Mini."

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