I fell for Radiohead on a rainy, late summer day in 1994. It was the day I bought Pablo Honey, which was probably one of the first dozen CDs I owned. The songs clicked with me immediately and seemed to be full of unrequited love and self deprecation, which is the stuff adolescence is made of.
I’ve been thinking about you, so how can you sleep
These people aren’t your friends, they’re paid to kiss your feet
But they don’t know what I know, and why should you care
When I’m not there
Radiohead has probably denounced Pablo Honey and ‘Creep’ in particular a million times over since then, claiming it was all just a joke, but it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time. It felt like we were meant to be together.
At this point it’s hard for me not to refer to the entirety of the lyrics on that album because there were so many that I latched on to. I think it’s still one of my favorite albums of all time, in part because I don’t really think I had heard anything like it before.
However, I know I would list The Bends as my favorite Radiohead album because it went far beyond the way I saw them after Pablo Honey. After I got a little sick of Pablo Honey‘s depressed guitar wallowing The Bends seemed to soar beyond guitars and lyrics, towards 1996 and the future. It had promise.
OK Computer was spacier, but I still liked it. I think it still had some great lyrics, even if things seemed to be getting a little fuzzy. I’ve got nothing against songs about cars and aliens, but they’re further along the spectrum of what I can relate to.You could sing along to it though.
Though I spent a lot of time with those first two albums, a big part of the way I felt about Radiohead was influenced by connections between me and other people in the years after those albums came out. I lent my copy of The Bends to a girl in my art class that I had a crush on and never saw it again. (My only hope is that she liked it as much as I did.) One of the first close friendships I had after moving to Montreal was solidified in part because of our use of random song lyrics (lots of Radiohead) in conversation. One of the best memories I have of another close friend is taking her to see Christopher O’Riley play his versions of Radiohead songs in a church during a crazy thunderstorm one long, hot summer. This is the way that Radiohead was woven into my life.
I remember meeting lots of people who would talk at length about how much they loved Radiohead after OK Computer and Kid A came out. I’d always tell them they should listen to some Catherine Wheel. My point never got across though, and it was becoming more and more obvious to me that whatever people seemed to like about OK Computer wasn’t what I had liked about Radiohead from the beginning.
I never even bought Kid A. I remember hearing some things from it and just finding it weird, cold and distant. Maybe this was the point? At any rate, it was like trying to cuddle with a robot. There was no emotion there anymore.
Now when people talk about Radiohead, it just kind of makes me sad. As a band, they’re kind of empty to me. I don’t see what makes them so popular at this point. It’s not that I begrudge them fame and critical acclaim, it’s just that I simply don’t get them anymore.
This brings us to the playlist, which contains some of my favorite Radiohead songs, and a few covers. These are some examples of songs that I particularly enjoy. The lyrics are strong and the melodies are simple, or in the case of the ‘Karma Police’ cover, the melodies are complex and the lyrics are missing. It ends with what’s probably my favorite Radiohead song ever, ‘Talk Show Host’.
You want me, well fucking come and find me
I’ll be waiting with a gun and a pack of sandwiches
And nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing