Daily Battles

Album: Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

Songfacts®:

  • In 2009, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke formed a band with a bunch of musician friends, including Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, called Atoms For Peace. They toured briefly and released one album, AMOK, before parting ways.

    Yorke and Flea reunited to record this song for the Edward Norton film Motherless Brooklyn. Flea not only laid down the song's waltzing bass line, but also contributed horns. The RHCP bassist is no stranger to the instrument; he was a trumpet prodigy in his younger days with dreams of being in a famous jazz band. Flea has previously played the trumpet on tunes for Mars Volta and Jane's Addiction as well as several of this own group's tracks.
  • Norton stars in Motherless Brooklyn as Lionel Essrog, a Tourette's-stricken detective in 1950s New York City. The actor courted Yorke regarding a contribution for the movie, telling Rolling Stone, "I wanted Thom to write an old-world melancholy ballad, and I wanted his voice to be the properties for Lionel's voice."

    Norton emailed Yorke the request and the Motherless Brooklyn script; a fortnight later he received an email from the Radiohead singer with the song "Daily Battles" attached.
  • The song features in a crucial scene in the movie where Lionel and a character played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw go to a jazz club. Norton enlisted jazz musician Wynton Marsalis to rearrange "Daily Battles" as a ballad reminiscent of 1950s Miles Davis.

    "We wanted the characters to dance to a ballad and we were trying to think what to do; we didn't want to do a famous Miles Davis track or anything like that. So I played Wynton Thom's song and he said 'That's a really pretty tune,'" Norton said. "Wynton, two days later, came back with this arrangement."
  • Thom Yorke played the song live for the first time during his show at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on October 29, 2019.

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