Radiohead has announced that Hail to the Thief, their sixth album, will be released on June 9 in the UK and June 10 in the US. The title overtly alludes to (and overtly subverts) “Hail to the Chief,” a song traditionally played by the United States Marine Band as the Presidential march. The following is excerpted from the U.S. Marine Band web site:
“Created for a stage adaptation of Sir Walter Scottâ€™s romantic poem, The Lady of the Lake, “Hail to the Chief” was written by English composer James Sanderson. The melody may have been borrowed from an old Scottish air, and the song was first performed in the United States in 1812.
“The first time “Hail to the Chief” was used to honor a President of the United States occured on February 22, 1815, in Boston. With new lyrics and a revised title, “Wreaths for the Chieftain,” it was sung at a service to celebrate the birthday of George Washington, who had died 16 years earlier.
“On July 4, 1828, the Marine Band performed the song at the ground-breaking ceremony for the excavation of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal attended by President John Quincy Adams. This was the first time the piece was used in association with a living President.”
You can listen to “Hail to the Chief” here.
AT EASE has one of the more complete explanations of the album’s title. It reads, in part:
“The title of Radiohead’s sixth album ‘Hail To The Thief’ is also an anti-George W. Bush slogan used by protesters at the end of the controversial election campaign that put him into the White House. The phrase ‘Hail To The Thief’ was coined by protesters at the end of the 2000 US Presidential election, when controversy famously surrounded Bush’s rise to office. The battle between Bush and Democrat candidate Al Gore came to a bitter end, with the result in the key state of Florida dogged by recounts, amid allegations of unfairness in the voting process.
“On the day of his inauguration Bush was greeted in Washington by thousands of protesters with banners, some of who shouted, ‘Hail to the thief, our commander in chief’. The phrase has now become well used in anti-Bush circles. A website, www.hail-to-the-thief.org, that casts a cynical eye over US policy is active and goes under the banner ‘Hail to the Thief! Love your country. Never trust its government.’ A number of books and articles have also been written, perhaps most famously ‘Mediaocracy 2000 -Hail to the Thief’ by Danny Schechter, which looks at the role of the media in the election.”
Hail To The Thief is also a repeated line of the song “2+2=5.”